Isn't what parents want for their offspring pretty standard? To grow up into an adult with common sense, who can procure a good job and relationships, and who never has to suffer ill health or circumstance? But we all arrive at parenting with different stories and opinions on life and what we think makes a solid individual.
Before becoming pregnant with my twin boys, I always knew I'd give my future children middle names that reminded them of something important. A character trait, a person to emulate perhaps. Something more inherently useful than a pretty name to fill in the gap between First and Last.
The dichotomy between Western cultural values and Godly ones explained in the original Bible fascinates me more and more. Steadfastness is currently undervalued in our culture, but makes a frequent appearance in Scripture. Mostly in reference to God's steadfast love and faithfulness toward humanity. But people are also called to be steadfast, regardless of the situation, because we are to follow Christ's example. My favorite Bible passages use sports analogies to explain the how-to's: we are to "fix our gaze directly before us" (Proverbs 4:25).
Wait, how is that a sports analogy? Well, your body will follow where your eyes look. The ball will sail straighter, those wheels beneath you will turn, and you'll keep your balance. Your body will follow where your eyes fixate. So what do we "fix our gaze" on?
We "fix our eyes on Jesus." (Hebrews 12:2). Why? Because He set the most incredible, nonsensical, history-changing example: "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
In similar fashion, we are told to "run in such a way as to get the prize." (1 Corinthians 9:24) We do this by "forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead." (Philippians 3:13)
This requires the most rigorous of training: "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable." (1 Corinthians 9:25) ("Perishable wreathes" refer to the branches of a sacred olive tree by Zeus's temple that were arranged and given to the winners of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece.) All this training, all this self-control, is indeed noticed and rewarded, particularly when we do it when no one but God knows what, when, how or why we've done something. (Matthew 6)
Can you guess how I chose my sons' names? Like a lot of people, I picked First names I liked the sound of. Ones that, to me at least, seemed earthy and strong. (Interestingly, the son who's name comes from a particular tree, seems to be at his utmost happiest outdoors underneath them)
But I chose my sons' middle names as a way of reminding them to be steadfast. I am way less concerned with raising a "smart" kid who gets all A's, speaks five languages, can count backwards from 1,000 by age four, build a tiny house at age ten, and knows his career path by fifteen. There is always someone smarter and more accomplished than us. Bragging rights mean diddly squat in a purpose-filled life.
My sons' middle names point back to my husband and my dad, both steadfast people who have greatly anchored my life, and so far, my boys' as well. And I think in this particular generation, becoming steadfast is going to be all the more meaningful because it doesn't always stand out. It isn't always exciting, in fact it usually isn't. Steadfastness is usually about other people and not us (though we will grow tremendously). But steadfastness is what really blesses the people around us and makes a difference both in our lives, our family's lives, and any generations that come after us.
We are told to "run with endurance", with Jesus as our example, whose eyes were on the "joy set before him." I am continually surprised at the difference in joy at the end of the day when I've worked hard for the people around me vs. making my own comfort and convenience #1.
This takes continual practice, but this is how I want my boys to strive in this life.