Tomorrow afternoon, we will go to Oklahoma City to see our younger daughter who will be returning to the university (Oklahoma Christian University) after being away for about four months in their study abroad program. She has been to China, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. For one month, she lived with a wonderful Japanese family (to whom I am very grateful). During these months, we have been able to communicate with her through e-mail occasionally, via telephone occasionally, and through Skype a few times.
So tomorrow afternoon, we plan to be at the university to meet her bus, which will be coming directly from the Oklahoma City airport. Probably the first thing we will do is eat Mexican food at On the Border (at her request).
I take pleasure in both of our children. I am thankful to God for them both. Yet, I know that our children have been blessed by the good influence, the quality teaching, and the significant examples of many people. Not every child has had those opportunities.
As a child, I can remember riding my bike down our street and passing house after house. It occurred to me one day as I was passing these houses that each of these families was different. In some cases they were very different from my own family. (I think about that in our church as well. As I look at our children of all ages, I realize that they come from homes that are very, very different from one another.)
Recently, I read a review of the new book Idol of Evil in the New York Times Book Review. The book examines the life of young Stalin. Richard Lourie, the reviewer, writes:
How did they get that way? That’s the natural question about history’s monsters. They all seem to start out the same as everyone else: "And who’s this little fellow in his itty-bitty robe?/That’s tiny baby Adolph, the Hitler’s little boy!" as the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska wrote. Many Georgian boys were beaten by their drunken fathers, but only one grew up to be Stalin. What were the factors of character and circumstance that made the crucial difference?
That is a good question. The review goes on to mention that Stalin was beaten by both his father and mother. Eventually, his father abandoned the family. Meanwhile, his mother, Ekaterina Geladze, beat Stalin while at the same time she had very high ambitions for him. She hoped that he would become a priest. He did go to seminary where "… his faith in God was replaced by a faith in revolution, which allowed him to combine intellectuality and criminality…." According to the book, in the early years he became a successful labor organizer (in the oil fields of Baku) and a bank robber as well.
As a Christ-follower, I can say that Jesus has dramatically reordered and reshaped my life. He continues to do so. Yet, he has also used numerous people to contribute in some way to my life. These include: my wife, my children, my extended family (including my in-laws), friends, people at various churches, etc.
What about you? You are who you are. Who is it that has contributed and helped to shape your life?