“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
Proverbs 23:22 (NIV)
Getting older sure has a funny way of changing our perception of our parents. When I was in kindergarten, I was firmly convinced that my mom and dad were two of the coolest, smartest and most understanding people in the annals of history. By the time I started high school, though, my appreciation of their intellect and insight had dimmed noticeably. In fact, I was firmly convinced that, if they would only listen to the “wisdom” that I so freely dispensed, their lives would be radically changed for the better and the other moms and dads in the neighborhood would view our family with a combination of awe and wonder.
Needless to say, the (many) years since that time have shown me that my parents were far, far wiser than I ever could have imagined, even in my earliest days as a child. More importantly though, I have come to realize that their underlying brilliance didn’t come merely with the passing of time. As Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 9:10, real wisdom – the kind that appreciates those things that are eternal and seeks to instill that same appreciation in others – is ours only when we set our hearts to respect, revere and follow God. And it is this aspect of my parents’ character, more than any other, which has made, and continues to make, them so very wise.
Over the past decade, as Cheryl and I have worked to raise our own precious daughter, Caroline, we have come to see some of the near-blind admiration she showed us as a preschooler become tempered with the realization that her mommy and daddy are very far from perfect. While it is hard not to mourn this inevitable change of viewpoint, it is in these times that we are most aware that our greatest goal as parents is not to hold on to the all-too-glowing esteem Caroline lavished on us when she was a child, but rather to point her to the One in whom all true wisdom, goodness and grace are found.
Cheryl and I remain certain that, if we do continue to do this, by the time Caroline begins to raise a family, she will seek to encourage her own children to love and follow this same God who gives his wisdom so freely and generously to those who ask for it. Of course, if we’re being totally honest, we also hope that, once in a blue moon, she might also find it in her heart to try and convince her sons and daughters that their beloved grandparents are two of the coolest, smartest and most understanding people in the annals of history.
Thank, you, Bert, for sharing your thoughts on Proverbs 23:22! I’m grateful to share this life with you!