I've never considered training Timothy for spiritual warfare before this week. I figured he was too young and that it wasn't time to even pretend that I should be doing something like this. But I've been reading a book lately, called Fathered By God, by John Eldridge and it got me to really thinking about how best to be the father in my son's life, especially since I'm in the Navy and he's lived without me for two deployments now.
I have realized as I have been absorbing this book how much work I need to do for both my son and my daughter, but as my son is older, he is more pressing at this actual moment. I must do more.
So a few days ago, I challenged both of my kids to walk .75 miles one way to Subway for lunch. My daughter would ride her tricycle (which had a handle for me to push) and my son mounted his scooter. I thought that this would be fairly easy. After all, I would be doing most of the work for my daughter, and I knew my son could make it to Subway and back.
But he didn't know this simple fact. Actually, he assumed he couldn't make it. About five blocks down the street, Timothy complained that he couldn't make it that far. He was sweating already and feeling distressed. It was hot. And when it came right down to it, he didn't think he could do it.
"Who told you that you couldn't make it Timothy?" I asked.
"I don't know," he whined.
"No," he answered.
"Then the only two people who matter think you can do it, so you can. Timothy, you're a young man, and you have to do this so you can know that you can."
I realize now that I was probably talking a little over his head, but when I said young man, something started to change in him. It was still a rough ride. He does have trouble in the heat, but we made it. And when we got to Subway, Timothy was very pleased.
After enjoying sandwiches, I gave Timothy one more pep-talk: "Timothy, we're headed home now. We're going to sweat, because we're men, and we're going to get hot, because that's what men do. But we're going to make it. And when we do, you're going to know how awesome you are."
He looked right at me and said, "Dad, do I rock?"
I almost cried right there (talk about irony!). "Son, you are a warrior, and you rock!"
We headed home, and as soon as we told the story to his mother, he said, "Mom, I'm the man!" She has started to see the change in him as well. This is working. He's starting to realize who he is. He's a boy who will become a man someday. I think he's feeling more comfortable in his role and the role he will play in the future.
And he rocks.