by Francis Kong
Times have changed. In 1900, fathers prayed their children would learn English. Today, fathers pray their children will speak English. In 1900, if a father put a roof over his family’s head, he was a success. Today, it takes a roof, deck, pool, and 4-car garage. And that’s just the vacation home. In 1900, a father waited for the doctor to tell him when the baby arrived. Today, a father must wear a smock, know how to breathe, and make sure film is in the video camera.
In 1900, fathers passed on clothing to their sons. Today, kids wouldn’t touch Dad’s clothes a mile away. In 1900, fathers could count on children to join the family business. Today, fathers pray their kids will soon come home from college long enough to teach them how to work the computer and set the DVD player. In 1900, fathers shook their children gently and whispered, “Wake up, it’s time for school.” Today, kids shake their fathers violently at 4 a.m., shouting: “Wake up, it’s time for soccer practice.” In 1900, a father came home from work to find his wife and children at the supper table. Today, a father comes home to a note: “Jimmy’s at baseball, Cindy’s at gymnastics, I’m at gym, Pizza in fridge.” In 1900, fathers and sons would have heart-to-heart conversations while fishing in a stream. Today, fathers pluck the headphones off their sons’ ears and shout, “WHEN YOU HAVE A MINUTE..” In 1900, a father gave a pencil box for Christmas, and the kid was all smiles. Today, a father spends Five thousand Pesos at a toy Store, and the kid screams: “I wanted PlayStation 3!”
Things have changed. So what do we do? Give the kids everything they want? You know the answer. No Way! This is a better idea. Teach them the value of growth and learning. And how do we do that? By growing a little everyday ourselves.
Not long before Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s death at age seventy-five, someone asked him how he continued to write so beautifully and remain so vigorous. Longfellow pointed to an apple tree that was full of colorful bloom and said … “That is a very old apple tree, but the blossoms this year seem more beautiful than ever before. That old tree grows a little new wood each year. And I suppose that it is out of the new wood that these blossoms come. Like the apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood each year.”
Our children watch us and then they imitate us. If they see us reading books, then this gives them better incentives to do the same. But if the kids see us spacing out in front of the boob tube, do you still wonder why they’re glued to their screens too?
We need to grow a little new wood each year. So how do we grow? You start first with getting out of your comfort zone. Learn something new. Develop a new skill, learn a second language, brush up on your computer literacy or get into a new sport. Embrace the challenge. Be ready to fail because that is the entry point to success.
Constantly have this thought fixed in your mind: “When you’re green you’re growing but when you’re ripe you’re rotting.”
The owner of a green house had a gardener who was careful, methodical and a hard worker. But, in spite of his diligence, the plants did not prosper under his care. The owner then hired a more experienced gardener and soon the plants began to thrive. The unsuccessful gardener explained what had happened… “When I transplanted the flowers I removed them carefully from their pots. I disturbed them as little as possible. This new man didn’t treat them that way. He was rough with them. He didn’t mind disturbing their roots. I thought he would ruin the plants because of his heavy-handedness, but they are growing.” He then went on to explain that the roots of the plants in the pots were packed tight. The successful gardener, by his apparent roughness, had loosened the soil and given the roots a chance to breathe, and stretch and grow stronger. In shaking them up, he actually made growing easier for them.
Are there not times when we need a little shaking up in order to stretch our mental, physical and even our spiritual roots and grow stronger in the faith? Paul, the major contributor in the New Testament says: “For it is when I am weak that I am strong,” and so just like him, we need to look at our apparent failures as experiences in growth. Failing doesn’t have to mean you’ve accomplished nothing. It can mean you can learn something. Failing doesn’t have to mean you are disgraced. It can mean you were willing to try. Failing doesn’t have to mean you don’t have what it takes. It can mean you have to do something in a different way. Failing doesn’t have to mean you’ve wasted your life. It can mean you have a reason to start afresh. Failing doesn’t have to mean you are inferior. It does mean that you, like everyone else, are not perfect. And that’s all right. By not being perfect you are acknowledging your membership in the human family. So don’t be afraid. Grow a little new wood every day.
by Francis Kong