I'm in a strange season in my life where all of my boys are celebrating milestones--all within a couple of weeks of one another.
My oldest son just finished law school, my middlest boy is graduating from high school, and my youngest will be a middle schooler in the coming year.
There are sixteen years between my oldest and youngest if you are wondering how all of that is possible.
Unlike most of my friends whose kids are all leaving the nest, I'll be that old guy on the sidelines of his kids' football games for some time to come. I'm doing my best to wear that well, though.
These kinds of transitions are bittersweet. As difficult as it is to realize even my littlest guy is growing up, it's kind of a gift to be seeing all these transitions happen at once.
It's also been humbling to see how they are growing up to be kind, empathetic, thoughtful humans, who genuinely want to make a positive impact on the world, and who seem to care deeply about making a difference in the lives of others.
God knows I've been an imperfect example for them. I've made more than my fair share of grave mistakes as a parent, and definitely showed them my darker side on more than a few occasions.
Still, God keeps redeeming those mistakes, teaching me through them, driving me to humility, and showing me over and over again what grace looks like.
Transitional moments provide us with an opportunity to reflect on what we've learned or are learning as we move through the various stages of life.
For my part, I think that the above lesson is probably the most valuable lesson I'm learning right now, and I'm only scratching the surface of what it truly means.
You see, none of us is perfect, and most of us are just trying to do the best we can moment to moment. We will stumble and fall from time to time, but if we are willing to find our feet again, the way forward will eventually get smoother.
We all need grace and we need it in abundance from God, others, and also ourselves. That last bit is the hardest part. It's only when we learn to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes that we finally begin to understand what grace is really all about.
We also need to know that there are people in our lives who we're influencing whether we want to own that fact or not. You don't have to be a parent to understand this---it's a universal truth.
And what these people in our lives need from us the most is our authentic selves, without the pretension, guile, and arrogance that so often accompanies a lack of repentance.
Instead, they need to experience our humility, honesty, and our sincere willingness to grow in grace.
This is the kind of connection that can truly change lives, and maybe if we're able to dream big enough... even the world.
May it be so, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.