As I backed out of the garage Saturday afternoon I noticed my 9-year-old neighbor mowing his grass. The push mower seemed taller than him. He looked frustrated as he tried to push it uphill. The yard looked well… like a 9-year-old had mowed it.
My heart was heavy as I saw this young man struggle. His parents are separated. It’s him, his younger brother and mother at home. The dad left sometime earlier this year and a video surveillance system went up shortly after. All at once this kid looked like he was having to become a man a lot sooner than he should.
The dad took great pride in making his yard look good. He cut the grass frequently and created carpentry projects that really made things nice. He even went as far to get a John Deere riding mower for a lot that’s not even a half-acre. Once at the community pool I overheard him going on about grass types to another neighbor. It appeared that the lawn was important to him.
This last Saturday his oldest son was pushing that lawn mower all by himself. His dad wasn’t there to show him how to do it. The dad could have been there to say that maybe it would be easier to start at the top of the hill and work your way down. He could have shared simple lessons that could teach him more than just how to cut grass, but how to navigate life.
I didn’t have a personal relationship with the dad. But I know men enough to realize that if the dad could be there showing his son how to tend the yard, he would. Instead this boy is left to figure out things on his own, frustrated.
The decisions we make in life don’t always affect just us. Let’s take this time to realize our actions reach far beyond our hands. What we do can separate us from those we love.
We can leave our sons to figure out how to become men all on their own. None of us want that. Don’t indulge in decisions that could force you to leave your family behind to fend for themselves.
I’m aware that divorce is not solely one person’s fault and that men aren’t always to blame. But I wanted to take the time to remind you not to take your family situation for granted. You’re going to want to be there to teach your son how to mow the grass. To show your daughter how ride her bike.
The next time life gets the best of you and you want to lash out, go drinking all weekend, text an ex-girlfriend or spend your paycheck as soon as you get it – think about that kid. Think about how your actions might keep you from being there when your children need you the most.
I want you to remember that God’s love and guidance is sufficient for all of us. There is no problem He can’t pull you through. All you have to do is give your struggle over to Him. Giving God your pain and struggles isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength to trust in Him to guide you.
Lastly, I need your help. Can you pray with me for my neighbors? When you bow your head to pray, just call them “Andy’s neighbors,” God knows who they are. Pray for healing with that family and that His love and His will can be made known to them. And don’t forget to pray for your family too. Life can come at you unexpectedly, but God’s love is unwavering.
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