Monday, June 30, 2008

10,000 Nicks

Good grief! Staring into the mirror bleary eyed this morning I realized (for some reason!) that I have now shaved this same face at least 10,000 times! I'm not exactly sure of the number, but figuring that I have shaved 300 days a year for about 35 years (when did I start shaving? wish I had written it down somewhere: "Today I am a man! I begin a daily ritual I'll dread most of the rest of my life. Yippee.") but I think I was around 15 or 16. Yes, peach fuzz counts in this calculation.

I never thought about the prospect of washing, lotioning ("Lectrashave" is my fav), and scraping while staring into my own face for so many times when I started. Even with a beard - neatly trimmed, mind you - that's a lot of strokes and nicks. How we are slaves to our bodies, especially our faces.

And the things I've seen in that face! When I was a kid, it was optimism and hopes (and watching out for zits!) of a future I couldn't even imagine. Honestly, I thought I'd go into journalism and be a newspaper man - until I tried that and found out what newspapers were really like under the surface. I was sure I'd have a wife and family, and a home and friends, and a church family and my own family forever, where ever I wound up.

But I never foresaw a stepdaughter and step-grandson. Nor did I ever dream of the mess it would involve getting to the eventual reward of the grandson. The stepfamily bit was a total surprise. Not all bad; certainly not all good.

If I had been able to look into that mirror and see what lay ahead ... I don't know. This part is great, but the part we came through was pretty scary. Would I have had the courage to go through the screaming and fighting and tears in order to get to the prizes at this end? Really, really hard to say.

But 10,000 shaves ago I was a much different person than what I have become.

What has your life created in your mirror? What do you see when you take the introspective time to honestly focus on your own eyes? Everything is there, you know. All the lessons learned. All the blessings received and all the scars inflicted. Your whole history in one convenient package.

What do you see about your stepfamily? Your kids and your stepkids? Your words carefully planned or carelessly tossed? The reflections of hearts you've broken? Or of tears you've dried?

Jesus was once asked how many times we should forgive those who curse us. The apostle who asked thought he was being high-minded and noble when he suggested to do it seven times. Jesus' answer probably both surprised and shamed him. Jesus said to forgive those who curse you "seventy times seven." That's 490 times. But I believe what He meant was "as many times as it takes." Over and over and over and over and ... .

How many times should your forgive your stepkids? Who many times should you begin again with them? How many times should you overlook their snide remarks and their insolence and their pointed stares? How much patience is called for to teach a child how to forgive?

If you just do it 490 times, that's the bare minimum required of you as a stepmom or stepdad. We have two slogans for stepparents: One is "Stepparents love beyond all reason." Meaning beyond all that could be reasonably expected of them in today's world. The other is "Stepparents are real heroes." Heroes go far above and beyond the bare minimum required to survive.

If you want to look into that mirror and see a hero for the rest of your life - whether you're shaving your face or putting makeup on it - you've got to exercise heroic amounts of patience, of love, of forgiveness. You've got to look at that kid and love him or her one more time. One more time. One more time.

How many times will I love you enough to try again?

One more time.
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Bob Collins, CDM
© 2008 Bob Collins

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