When our son James was young…really young…like five, six years old…he decided to exert his independence. He did this by rooting for the arch-rival of any team I liked. My favorite hockey team is the The New York Rangers so he chose as his favorite team The New Jersey Devils. I love the New York Mets in baseball so he is a New York Yankees fan. In football I root for the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants and he is a rabid New York Jet’s fan. I couldn’t quite understand why the rebellion. After all, we found out that Susan was pregnant with James when the Rangers were beating the Devils in the playoffs during their Stanley Cup championship season in 1994; He couldn’t have been a Devils fan in the womb, could he? Was he resentful because of all my cheering while his team was losing? I thought he would have been feeling the love for the Rangers. When myfriends would ask me how I could let my son root for the Devils, or the Jets or the Yankees (to be fair his mother and sisters are Yankee fans) I simply would say: “If that is the worst rebellion he does we will be very happy parents.” It may have been a cop out but it was true. And indeed it pretty much was the worst of the rebellion we had to deal with.
This seems to be the way we often view life. It helps us to feel better and put things in perspective. We contrast one thing to the other and try to view the relative relationship they have. The person who gets in a car accident says: “At least nobody was hurt….We all walked away from it in one piece.” If you get a bad meal at a restaurant you think: “At least it’s not my last meal I will ever eat.” Or one of your televisions don’t work and you think “This is a first world problem…one of three televisions are not working.”
The Apostle Paul is a good example of somebody who lived with a proper perspective of life. He knows that life is fickle and one day everything may seem great but heartache could be around the corner. Paul knows what it is like to be on the highest of heights but also to be in the pits of suffering and despair. Through life’s experiences it is important to keep things in the proper perspective. While under house arrest and having his freedom severely limited he writes:
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
How can he write that after all he has suffered? How can he be content while in prison, while in need, while hungry, while being in want? Because life is relative. Compared to someone else you might have it pretty good. As bad as it is it could always be worse. We can find contentment because we view life through a Biblical worldview lens that tells us that God is in control, that He is for us, not against us and that if His eyes are on the sparrow they are certainly on me. We are thankful for what we have…and for what we don’t have. If we keep the right perspective we will find contentment not in things or even people but in God alone. He is our hope. As Job prayed: “Though He slay me yet I will trust Him.” (Job 13:15).
So I guess I could live with my son rooting for the Devils and Yankees. I am content that he roots for the Jets; There could be worse things in life……At least he is not a Patriots fan.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?