I remember when I was growing up and those infamous visits to the pediatrician’s office. I remember my doctor’s name – Dr. Amos, whose office was located near Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro – and I remember that the only cool thing about going to his office were the “Highlights” magazines and all the germ-infested toys you’d get to play with before you get called back. Other than that, I don’t have fond memories of those experiences…probably because most the time I could barely breathe due to my asthma and there were always those inevitable shots. Remember?
Yesterday, Molly and I took Julia to her pediatrician, Dr. Van Winkle, for her 6-month check-up – who, along with the cool name is also a really great guy; oh yeah, and his first name is ‘Chris,’ and his wife’s name is ‘Molly,’ further affirming for us that he was the right choice as far as pediatricians were concerned. (Thanks Matt and Whitney for putting the bug in our ear about the other Chris & Molly in Greensboro!) Now, something I’ve actually grown to hate about these visits are the shots, which I do actually believe hurt me worse than they do Julia. She gets the first shot, and by the time she realizes how bad it hurts, we’re already on the third. Her face inevitably turns beet-red and I always start getting a little worried after she hasn’t breathed for a few seconds. It’s excruciating for us and for her. Goes to show that pediatrician’s offices don’t get much better.
I was reading through Hebrews 12 the other day and was reminded of something that yesterday’s experience once again brought into light. It’s a difficult thing for a parent to allow their children to go through any kind of suffering or pain – and most of the time, we’ll keep them from it at all costs. However, there are those times when it becomes absolutely necessary for the well-being of the child and it can become a detrimental thing for them in the long run to avoid it. Like shots. Now, I won’t go into a parenting “how-to” here, mostly due to my inexperience as a parent, but consider the discipline of a child. Whether you’re a proponent of spanking or time-out, it could probably be agreed upon easily that no discipline can ultimately be destructive. And if this is the case, we could probably agree that there is some pain and suffering that is absolutely necessary for out good.
Now, think of all the ways in life we tend to avoid pain and suffering, as if it’s something totally opposite to the Christian journey. In fact, Jesus totally makes clear that pain and suffering and discipline are all a part of the Way. But in the end, there’s the hope of our transformation, redemption, restoration…
No discipline (pain and suffering) is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. _Hebrews 12:11
So as we were walking out of the office yesterday and I told Julia, “one day you’ll probably come to despise this place.” And she probably will. But I also know the peace I have in standing there as her dad and watching her go through this pain is because of it’s necessity for her. It’s for her good. What a great reminder that when I’m going through difficult times of my own (whether of my own choosing or not) that my Father is standing right there, not because He loves shots or with some kind of twisted desire for my pain and suffering, but with what will come out of it for me…
Thanks, BT, for our conversation about this a few months ago. Thanks to you, I’ve been able to open my eyes while Julia gets her shots now.