I’m not sure why God designed pregnancy to last nine months, but that’s a very long time to young and anxious parents.
During my wife’s pregnancy, nine months felt like an eternity. Both of us still remember the relief we felt when our daughter was born. We were sure when my wife delivered, we would break into a chorus of the Barry Manilow song “Looks Like We’ve Made It.”
But instead, we quickly learned the theme song for raising children sounds a bit more like the Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
I still can remember the words swirling in my head as I ran bowlegged behind our daughter as she learned to ride a bike. Then as I watched her fall, I could only say, “Oh boy, it’s only just begun.”
Most parents know their own version of the song.
Who can forget the first time you drove your child to get a learner’s permit and then bravely rode home in the passenger seat? Releasing your embedded fingernails from the armrest, you likely mumbled something like: “It’s only just begun.”
Or after you saw your daughter off on her first date and then tried to stay up waiting for her. But when you were startled awake by a car door, you rubbed your eyes and thought to yourself, “This is just the beginning.”
Or after you stood for an hour on the sweltering sidelines of a soccer field or sat shivering in the football bleachers just waiting to hear your child’s name called into play, you thought, “This has only just begun.”
After each of these first beginnings in your children’s lives, you hope and pray God has another miracle coming that will eventually launch them into the world of their dreams.
Yet with each launch, you have a new beginning and with each new beginning, you discover the launches are increasing exponentially.
This spring, we’ve seen two daughters launch in different directions. One finished her plan to graduate from a four-year university.
Meanwhile, our younger daughter is planning the results of the unplanned, the birth of a child with her fiancé.
Some might look at these opposite beginnings and say, “Well, chaplain, sounds like your child rearing success is ‘one for two,’ ” like they are keeping score of the happy endings in our lives.
That would be one way to look at it, but I don’t think it’s God’s way. That perspective would be like counting the number of falls my daughter had on her bicycle without ever considering the amount of miles she logged camping on bike trails.
The problem is if we are always looking for happy endings and avoiding the so-called sad endings, we will miss the truth that in this life, there aren’t so much “endings” as there are “constant beginnings.” With each life event, we can sing the song “We’ve only just begun.”
God is all about new beginnings. Hebraic texts describes a God who is willing to “give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you.”
Christian texts concur when they say God desires to make us “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
True enough, all these new beginnings in my house might not make for great rhythm, but when it comes to music, “We’ve Only Just Begun” is a song I plan on keeping in my child-raising