He loves sport, his iPad, his music, his drums and his hair. School, fortunately for us, is only 100 metres from our doorstep. This allows him to sleep in, saunter out of his room in the morning, and still make it on time.
I love coaching his soccer team and allowing him the opportunities to excel at his chosen sport and to encourage his dreams of a career in the sport he loves.
There are many moments as a father that truly make you doubt your ability though to raise a man to confront the world ahead.
We had recently finished a training session at his local club and decided to watch the Under 15 age group play a match after training.
My wife called and we "discussed" why we should stay behind together as father and son, on a school night, with assignments and homework due, to watch an under 15 soccer match. After we had "discussed" the arrangements, my wife reminded me, actually implored me that "if" I was staying to watch the game, could I at least go to the clubhouse and purchase some electrical tape for my second son's boots? He loves to use the tape to hold down his laces to assist his kicking ability. Once again I had forgotten my wallet, but scraped together the money from my car's ashtray to purchase the electrical tape.
"Here, son. Before the game starts, take this money and buy some electrical tape for your brother." (Son grunts, takes money, wanders off)
10 minutes later
"Are you kidding me? What did I ask you to buy from the canteen? What are you holding in your hands? Are you serious? Do you ever listen? WHAT DID I ASK YOU TO GET FROM THE CANTEEN?
"…Hot chips and gravy…You love them don't you? You say they're the best on the coast? (Whatever you do son, don't say anything else, your Dad is about to explode…) Did you ask me to get tape? Yeh, I saw them sitting on the counter and thought about buying some, but then I saw I only had enough money for the two buckets of hot chips."
Often, we don't give our all in our relationships. Whether it's our spouse, our kids, our neighbours or our friends. Many people need more than a "like" on a status update. Have you ever thought that status update was actually a way for someone to say, "Please call me"? Sometimes saying, "I'm praying for you" or "You're gorgeous" or "Congratulations. Well done" is really quite ineffective when what that person needs is us, needs a listening ear, needs a hug or hand with something. We give our significant others hot chips when they need electrical tape.
I think God has given us all we need to successfully navigate this life of ours. We have many hurts, frustrations and disappointments. We go through dark times and can often think it is never going to end. We, the church, complicate the example and words of Jesus through conditional love, not unconditional love, forgiveness and grace. We often just ask, why? I think God wants us to praise him THROUGH our circumstances, not FOR our circumstances. We give God hot chips when he has asked us for electrical tape.
For the record, they are the best hot chips and gravy on the coast.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three sons.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html