This weekend our home church is having a Father-Son Retreat they are calling Man Camp. Dads will take their pre-teen sons off for the weekend together. Over the two days they will mentor and teach them what it means to be a man. They will have sessions on basic car repair, changing a tire, using power tools, firearms classes and shooting sessions, kayaking and canoeing. Interspersed throughout the weekend will be talks on virtues, purity, and the responsibilities of being a man. This is something our church has done in the past. Every time we have done one before, it has produced great sadness inside of me. After all, my 14-year old with profound special needs can not participate in these type of endeavors. So we never are able to go to these type events.
I used to get really depressed because the whole experience reminded me yet again of how different our lives are, and how limited we are in what our son can do and enjoy.
My son, of course is totally oblivious to the whole thing. I am the one with the attitude problem.
So once again we will not be at man camp, and I will not be teaching him how to be a man.
We will spend our weekend together in our customary ways. I will swing him in his platform swing over and over as it is his favorite activity. We will go for rides together in the car and let him bounce in his seat. We will sit side by side on the couch as I speak blessings over him and scratch his back.
Saturday night we will hosts a Rising Above worship service for those with special needs, a ministry birthed out of our experiences with him. On Sunday we will go to church and he will participate in our special needs ministry there that was started because of him. Then on Sunday he will go to his Papa's 80th birthday party in Nashville where he will light up his grandfather's face and cause him to break out in song, singing over Jon Alex.
Throughout the weekend, my life with Jon Alex will remind me of many things.
Joy can be found in the simplest of things.
Happiness and contentment can be found with just a few things.
Dying to yourself means living sacrificially for others.
It's about being together, not what you do together.
There is no greater or more noble endeavor than to love unconditionally.
There is nothing Jon Alex can do to make me love him any more or any less than I do already.
I love him unconditionally simply because he is my son. And if that is all he ever is in life, that's enough for me. He is my son and nothing can change my love for him.
In that respect, Jon Alex is teaching me to be more like Jesus, and to truly grasp how much God loves me, just because I'm his son.
So I guess you can say that Jon Alex and I are having our own Man Camp this weekend.
The only difference is that he will be the teacher, and I will be the pupil. And he will be teaching me what it's really like to be a man.