Day 82-30 – Being Hard on the One’s You Love

Thank-you #TeamJustus for all of the encouragement these last few days. Like us, you all have noticed the change happening in our little warrior (Day 81-29). The road ahead still feels daunting at times, but it’s so good to have moments of affirmation. He’s a long way from being able to walk, he can’t really open his mouth much, he’s not able to talk or to take in food orally, and he can’t move his left arm much. But… he’s alive, he’s gotten better literally everyday, he’s improving faster than anyone gave him hope for, he’s off all his pain meds, he’s getting strong enough to nearly hold himself up, he’s had a one day pass home, and… Tuesday he’ll have his skull flap put back in place. Sounds a little like the glass half empty or half full scenario. The truth is, we know because of the illness, the glass is half empty, but because God is able and God is good, we also know the glass is half full!

The picture today is from today’s therapy sessions. I put two pictures in because there are two things I wanted to point out. The first is from one of his therapists that is particularly hard on him. The truth is we love this therapist because of how hard she is on him. Don’t get me wrong, there is no doubt this woman loves Justus. In fact it’s because of her love for him that she works him so hard! It reminds me of 100 years ago when I used to be an athlete. The coaches that I respected and went back to see, the ones who impacted my life the most, were the ones that were the hardest on me. They loved me, but because they loved me they were hard on me.

When Kelli and I are coaching and teaching parents, we often use that example. For some reason, in my opinion, we’ve gotten soft in our parenting. (Fair warning, many of you won’t agree with me which is ok, just hear me out) Out of a genuine love for our kids we’ve somehow been convinced to take it easy on them. Parents are being a sold a bill of goods that says, in essence, if we are too hard on our kids we’ll crush their spirit. The other factor we see a lot is, if I as a parent feel like I have short changed my child (because I’m having to work too much, or am divorced, or I’m military and I’m always deployed), because I love them so much I just can’t be as hard on them. Or we see situations like Justus, where a child because of birth, or an illness, or an injury, has some special needs and because of that parent’s great love, they can find themselves coddling them. I know, I’ve been there.

Please don’t misunderstand me; grace always! Grace first! Love your child. When in doubt, we always choose grace or the path that is most loving. What I’m saying is, like Justus’ therapist, out of that great love, out of that grace, be lovingly hard on your child; not legalistic performance driven motives. Remember, I’m the one trying to be a Journalist for Jesus, so this isn’t about pushing and pushing our kids. This is part of that God given role we get in Proverbs 22:6… to train up our kids in the way they should go… it’s to believe in our kids enough to believe they can be what God has created them to become. There is tension in this to be sure. It’s easy to stray too far one way or the other. It’s part of why Kelli and I are so passionate about helping parents with this amazing privilege we are given to parent. It’s hard to know when they just need us to be affirming and supportive, and when we are sheltering them from natural consequences that can help them grow up. It’s hard to know when we need to give them some slack and offer grace, and when it’s a principle we need to stand firm and expect obedience. It’s about knowing your kids, which takes time. Isn’t parenting fun!!!

In the second picture I just had to share a fun story, again from one of the therapists that are really hard on Justus. I know I’ve shared before about how tired he gets from working so hard. Today, he worked really hard and then fell asleep in the middle of stretching. The picture is his therapist going through his entire routine with him completely zonked out! Her comment was, she’ s never had a patient working so hard one minute and then the next minute be so completely asleep! Of course my wife and her sister (who is married to my cousin J) immediately blamed it on his Samoan genes. I don’t think that was appropriate… do you?

I’m sure there are a ton of life lessons from that fun story, but my point tonight was just to share a fun glimpse at Justus. Thanks for being so faithful with our warrior. We don’t take your prayers for granted. We know many of you are diligently praying for a boy you’ve never met… that is beautiful in so many ways! And thank-you for continuing to pray for all the other #TeamJustus prayer requests. Thank-you!