Recently, Liam (our oldest child, age 12) found some photos from my childhood. Among them was a school picture from late elementary school where I looked completely ridiculous. Now, if I was the stern or self-conscious type, my eldest son may have tucked that picture away and kept his snickering to himself. But my children know the truth. I love bantering with them, and I never pass up on an opportunity to laugh at my own expense. So Liam held the photo up high like a prosecutor submitting exhibit A for the court’s consideration, confident that a picture is worth a thousand words.
In that moment, he was a showman. He grinned from ear to ear. He paused for affect and reaction as Nathan, age 6, giggled. Liam was relishing this opportunity to critique my dated hair style and fashion choices while silently challenging me to defend the indefensible. Throughout, I remained committed to the shtick that the elementary school version of myself was probably the coolest guy in town. “Uh… huh,” he responded in a tone that dripped with sarcasm. Next, his gaze returned to the image in question as he shook his head disapprovingly and smirked for the jury of one comprised of his little brother. I didn’t stand a chance.
Friends, no single moment in life can define us completely. None of us is one-dimensional. We are, instead, a collection of the good, the bad, and the ridiculous. We are also ever-evolving. Who among us is the same person that we were decades ago or even a month ago? Our faith teaches us that there is always time for a change in course, always an opportunity for a second chance, always the possibility for redemption. This Advent, as we await the redemptive message of God’s incarnate love in Christ, we give thanks for the full spectrum of human experience, and for those who love us through every season of the journey.