I'm not much of one for interpreting dreams, writing them down, and pondering what they might mean. Certainly the Lord can speak to us through dreams, but, well, I tend to leave that alone.
When I was in high school and college - and sometimes even now - I had a recurring dream where I was running - usually in a cross country race - but I could not get ANYWHERE. My legs were going, but it was like being on a treadmill and I couldn't gain any ground. Sometimes I was being chased, but usually I was just in a race and becoming more and more frustrated that I couldn't GO. I usually ended up running backwards. Weird.
Occasionally I have a dream where I'm desperately trying to dial a number, and I keep getting the last digit wrong, and have to start all over again. It's intensely frustrating, and I actually lived it out yesterday at work when I was trying to call someone and kept hitting the wrong last digit. Kinda freaked me out.
But recently I have a new dream that keeps showing up: I'm driving by myself in a car. Levi's in his car seat, and he's younger - like 1 month old. But my car's in reverse. And in my dream that seems totally okay - like I'm doing nothing to change the fact that it's in reverse - but I'm truly trying to drive down a highway...in reverse. And no one else is going in reverse, and in fact, I'm going uphill and these huge semis are pouring over the hill right at me, and I'm fully turned around trying to tend to Levi, while trying to steer backwards. Mind you, I'm not really panicked or frantic, I'm just trying to steer and protect my son...all while going in reverse.
It just occurred to me that in my running dream, I always ended up running backwards. Huh.
Anyway, I was up quite a bit with little Levi last night. He usually sleeps well at night, often waking once and needing a quick paci-plug before going right back to sleep (I know, we'll have to break that habit at some point, but one thing at a time...). No idea why, but he woke up about three times before I finally gave in and fed him, and even then he stayed up gabbing away to himself in his crib for at least a half hour before he fell back to sleep. It was probably about 3 before he really called it a night. Aye. Truly, he hasn't partied like that since like his first week home. Not sure why he resurrected the idea.
I try to enjoy those moments with him, rocking and feeding him in the dark. Because I know I'll put him back down, kiss him goodnight (again), head up to my own bed, and when I open my eyes again he'll be grown.
So I was rocking him and thinking about my recent recurring dream. And whether or not it really "means" something, it seemed as clear as day that parenting Levi the way we intend to parent him will be much - MUCH - like driving down the highway in reverse.
I've heard people say they would never want to raise their kids in this generation. To be sure, it'll be a challenge. Raising a godly young man in a me-focused culture will be a challenge. We don't seek to hide him from the big, bad world...but we do want to teach him discernment, wisdom, and discretion before he's exposed to some of it.
Levi was one of 7 boys born at our church this past year. My friend's mother remarked (my friend had one of those boys), "God must be raising an army of godly young men." Wow. No matter how you see that remark, the responsibility to raise a young man full of integrity who will demonstrate servant leadership is humbling and staggering. I'm honored to be up to the challenge, but it makes me tremble with awe...and perhaps a bit of trepidation.
How do we teach Levi to view women in a way that a man should view them...rather than just in the way a male would view them? There's an incredible difference.
How do we raise him to think about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, in a society that scoffs at truth, elevates lewdness and is lost on what really is lovely, and sets us adrift in low expectations?
What about raising a son who quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger? When everyone around him will tell him to stand up for his rights, be heard, speak his mind? What's it like to instill that a fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion in a culture like ours, where we clamor to be heard, heard, heard but rarely listen and consider our words?
I want Levi's hands to be held out in service, but he will be told that it's his turn to be served, to receive what he deserves, to take what he wants...because he needs to look out for himself.
No, no son. The Lord is your shepherd, you shall not want. He will be your Provider, Defender, and Keeper.
Is it possible to teach self-control in a decadent world that celebrates self-indulgence?
Yes, that highway is long and wide. And we are charged to show him the path that is narrow. Our little car is in reverse, and truckloads of lies that are wildly opposed to Christlike values are heading our way full speed ahead. Buckle in, kiddo, it'll be quite a ride.
But it's my job to show you the narrow road. The tougher road. Many will scoff at you for taking that road. And the cost of that road is high.
God gave Levi to us to parent. My daily prayer is that He will make me a student of my son's heart. Our hand is at the plow of his heart for only so long. I know that we will be criticized for being too strict, too vigilant, to sheltering, too-too-too...but that's the cost we're willing to pay to parent this child in the way we feel led. We'll make grand mistakes for sure.
My hope is not for Levi to be successful...though I would love to see him succeed.
It is not for him to be happy...though I want to throw myself in front of any train that could crush him.
It is that he takes after his Father...the One who knew his heart even before mine was beating.
And if it seems like we are pedaling backwards in a culture that is quickly moving in the opposite direction, then that's what we'll do.