The Wheel

Writing has long been a passion of mine. Whether or not I’m any good at it or if anyone actually wants to read anything I write are completely beside the point. I used to write with (at least a little) more regularity, however the last two or three years have brought much change to my former way of life, which primarily included bachelorhood and therefore, by necessity, lots of spare time and a lack of a scheduled bedtime, and so staying up until 4 A.M. to finish a blog post didn’t throw my entire world off of its axis. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t change a thing about my current life. I love my wife and son more than I could’ve ever imagined loving another human being, it’s just that it takes much more intentionality to sit down and write something worthwhile. Which brings me to my next paragraph.

For those of you who (just so) happened to have read my blog in the past, you know that it used to be called “The Chaddington Post”. I never really liked that name, I just called it that, one, because of the obvious parody of the Huffington Post, and two, because of the nickname that really only one person in the world has ever called me (yes you, Chelsea). It didn’t mean that much to me and I’m just really terrible at coming up with clever names for things. I really wanted my blog name to have some significance. This is the part where I explain that significance.

I chose the name “The Wheel” for a few reasons. Or perhaps it’s just one multi-faceted reason, but whatever. My favorite musician of all-time is John Mayer. One of my favorite John Mayer songs of all-time is Wheel, off of his sophomore album Heavier Things. The song basically talks about the circle of life and the different seasons we all go through. The second verse of the song goes like this:

“Airports see it all the time
Where someone’s last goodbye
Blends in with someone’s sigh
Cause someone’s coming home
In hand a single rose”

What has always struck me about the picture that this verse paints is the stark contrast of emotions that two people can be facing in the same exact setting. And perhaps I can relate even more because I’ve experienced both of these extremes in this same setting. For one person, it is an almost overwhelming sense of sorrow or grief, not knowing when you might see that loved one again, and for the other, a feeling of expectancy and intense joy at the sight of someone you’ve missed for so long.

But the one line that really hits home for me is this tagline at the end of the song that he repeats over and over again:

“You can’t love too much one part of it
You can’t love too much one part of it…”

The triumphs or the tragedies, the victories or the defeats, the births or the deaths, the holidays or the weekdays, the parties or the miseries. Things change. Jobs change. Where we live changes. People come and go. Money comes and goes. The truth is that we can’t live in one part of our life our whole lives. There is a constant ebb and flow. As Mayer says in the chorus of the song, “That’s the way this wheel keeps working now”. And that is where I have derived the title for my blog. The Wheel. There are many spokes in a wheel, each one representing a different part, a different area of our lives. Some good, some bad, some change, some remain, but a constant turning nonetheless. And it’s a beautiful process. Not always pretty, and not always what we expect, but regardless, our prayer is that we embrace the change, we learn and mature in light of it, and that God receives the glory for all of it in the end.

Fatherhood

There have been a number of events throughout the course of my (relatively short) life that I have looked forward to with great anticipation. Some were things that I knew were going to happen, yet still eagerly awaited, such as birthdays and Christmas and the like. Everyone loves birthdays and Christmas morning, because you know that, barring some unfortunate circumstance, they are always joyous occasions, ones where you are surrounded (mostly) by people you love and you get a bunch of (mostly) cool presents. It’s a win-win situation. Then there have been other situations that, while I knew they were going to take place, wasn’t quite sure what the outcome would be, for instance, how well I would hit in my next little league game or how well I would perform in the upcoming play for which I’d been memorizing lines for the last month (if you’re interested in the results of either, you may try contacting my mother, who I’m pretty certain has a few of the aforementioned events recorded on a VHS tape somewhere). And finally, the last category includes those select few events that, while I’d always dreamed of them coming to pass, I wasn’t quite sure that they ever would. One of these, as you may well have guessed, was marriage. I’m not sure that anyone ever thinks or simply takes for granted that they will, in fact, one day be married. Some folks get married very early in life, others late, and some may never desire to be married. Still others dream of marriage, and yet it takes much longer than they had ever hoped it would, and may still be waiting. Personally, I am blessed to be going on two wonderful years of marriage, and there are times when it still seems surreal.

But there is still one more event that fits in to the latter category, one that I have given a great deal of thought to over the years, even from a fairly young age, and one that I can now say is going to happen, and that is this:

Fatherhood.

My wife and I were incredibly blessed to find out on Valentine’s Day of this year that we had conceived a child essentially just after we had started trying. While I am not a very expressive individual, and perhaps to her my expression was still a bit more subdued then she would have preferred, the moment my wife announced the news to me that she was pregnant, I immediately felt an intense sense of joy and exuberance, and yet also a sort of fear over the reality that this was actually happening. There was no turning back. We were being given the responsibility of raising another human being.

Quite frankly, I am terrified of the idea of being a father. I don’t play the comparison game by looking at other fathers who have failed their children, who aren’t there to support their children or who abuse their children or what have you, but I look at me, at my role, my responsibility, and I wonder if I have what it takes to be the loving, caring, compassionate, yet strong leader and disciplinarian father my child needs me to be. This is something that I take very, very seriously. Sure I have ideas of what kind of a father I want to be, the things I want to teach my children, the way I want them to behave, the example I want to set, but when that child is actually here, in the flesh, will I have the courage to carry them out? Will I love them even when they annoy me or disobey me, or will I get frustrated and angry with them? Will I be consistent in lovingly disciplining them, or will I give up because I’m “too tired”? Will I love them enough to spend time with them, play with them, teach them the truths of God’s Word, or will I keep to myself, contending that I “never have enough time for myself” or to do the things that I enjoy doing?  These are the questions that I wrestle with, and probably will to continue to wrestle with, until my baby arrives, and likely even beyond that.

I know that every person, both men and women, have those things in their minds and hearts that they have vowed to do differently from their fathers and mothers. I’ve never questioned that my dad loved and continues to love me. He always tells me how proud he is of me, and if there’s one thing that can always make him smile, its talking about “his boys”, whom he loves dearly. However, there were ways in which my dad wasn’t there for me growing up. His idea of being a good father was to provide for his family, and that he did. He would work two or three jobs at times if it meant that we had food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads. That also meant that we didn’t always see him, and when he was home, often times he was too tired to play with us. He didn’t like sports, so playing catch with us happened about once a year. He didn’t like any kind of games, so if we were playing video games it was in our rooms so he could watch TV, and if it was a family board game, he passed in favor of, well, watching TV. Sleeping in any bed other then his own for any period of time longer than one night was not something he preferred to do, so family vacations, while fun when they did happen (see Orlando, Florida), were few and far between. He did take us to things like car shows and drag racing events, and while these things were a blast and are great memories for me, it just never seemed to make up for all of the other things that he couldn’t do or chose not to do with my brothers and I.

These are the things that I always vowed to change when I became a father. I wanted to spend as much time with my children as possible, even if it meant doing something that I had absolutely no interest in (Lord, please help my future son to not be a dancer. Amen). I wanted my children to know that I would always be there for them , to give them advice, or to simply listen to their problems, even if I didn’t have a great answer to give them, just so they knew that I cared about them.

Yet while these are noble goals and things that I believe every parent should do, there is something that I have learned, even prior to my first child being born, and that is this: the entirety of my fatherhood cannot be based on a reaction to the mistakes that my own father made. I should want to spend time with my children not because my father didn’t, but because I love my children and it should bring me joy to be with them, and while there is most definitely great value in learning from others’ mistakes, that should be secondary to the primary goal of being a loving and godly example to my children because that is the role in which God has placed me.

I do hope that I have not conveyed a sense of fear and uncertainty that exceeds my sense of excitement, joy and anticipation at the arrival of my child, for that is certainly not the case. October can’t come quickly enough! Ultimately these are fears that I must entrust to the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and believe that He will provide me with everything that I need to be a loving, Christlike father to my children. And that’s just it. The things I now fear that I won’t be able to do are things that only He can do through me. I cannot be selfless to my wife and children apart from having the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), who loved us and gave of Himself even to the point of setting aside His heavenly throne, putting on flesh, and dying for our sin. I cannot love like that on my own power. And there is actually great comfort in that truth. Try as I may, I will only fail apart from His strength.

I pray that I will be humble enough to admit my mistakes to my children and to ask them for their forgiveness. I pray that I will be selfless enough to lay aside my (incredibly) selfish desires in order love and serve them for their benefit and my joy. And I pray that through my growth, through my trials and errors, and through my love and sacrifice for them, that they will in turn encounter the living God, to know the truth of His Word, and so be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ by repenting and placing their trust on Him as their saving Lord.

That is the legacy I want to leave as a father.

Emett Grant Newton

Just a few short days ago, the world welcomed its newest and greatest member, Emett Grant Newton, my first nephew (from my families side. I do already have some amazing nieces and nephews on my wife’s side whom I love dearly), my parents’ first grandchild, and my brother Tommy and his wife Denah’s firstborn child. Here’s a good shot of the little guy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy and Denah have been married for six years this month, and have been praying for a child for nearly half of that time. After trying for some time, they began to see various doctors over the next few years trying to find out what was wrong and what could be done to allow them to have children. Many different things were suggested, but none of them ever worked.

Then one night last September, things took a drastic turn for the best. Tommy and I were sitting on his back porch enjoying cigars together (a tradition that I cherish greatly and wish could be done more often) having just arrived home that night from a week-long vacation in North Carolina. As we were talking, he told me “not to tell anyone yet, but we think Denah may be pregnant” . I was so excited! They were on the verge of visiting yet another fertility specialist at that time, and yet now Denah was starting to experience the symptoms of pregnancy! They decided to put off the fertility doctor, and it’s a good thing, because as it turns out, she was in fact pregnant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emett is such a beautiful little boy and a testament of God’s faithfulness to His children. He is named first, of course, after the great Dr. Emmett Brown

 

 

 

 

 

and second after our grandfather, Grant Johnson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandpa Johnson was an amazing man, one who Tommy resembles very much in his personality, his interests, and his character. I know Tommy wishes he could be a part of little Emett’s life, but his legacy and his memory certainly remains with us. Tommy is already an amazing husband and I have no doubt that he is going to be an incredible father to Emett.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so excited to meet this little guy in just a few short weeks! Not only is a nice, relaxing vacation in order for my wife and I, but I just can’t wait to meet Emett and spend time with him and his parents. I’m so excited for their family and so blessed to see God’s hand at work in their lives. God is so good and so faithful, and I can only imagine what an incredible man Emett will one day be.

 

Dear Singles: Married People Are Not Holier Than Thou

A thought struck me recently as I was having a conversation with a friend who was telling me about his impending engagement. It wasn’t necessarily due to any one thing he said to me, but rather an observation based on numerous conversations I’ve had over the past two years or so with various people, and also from my own pre-marriage mindset.

Essentially, it seems to me that there is a misconception amongst the unmarried, those commonly referred to as “singles”, that those of us who are married are somehow or another wiser or holier than our single friends, that people who are married have reached a higher level of spirituality or maturity that can never be reached so along as one remains single.

I’ve had conversations with my single guy friends where, and I don’t mean this arrogantly, but it seems like they are just eating up every word I have to say, as if marriage has given me the ultimate insight on the subject altogether. Not that I mind at all giving advice whenever it may be sought, and sure, there are certainly things that I probably know and can adequately give advice about as a married man, it’s just that I’m a bit surprised at the attention I’m given when having these types of conversations.

I suppose I can remember being at the stage of my life, not knowing, of course, what in the world it was even like to be married, and so to glean from someone who’s been there already seemed like the right thing to do, however, I am now more aware than ever, having been on both sides of the equation, of the impact our words as married people can have on our single friends and family. I’m sure that there were things I took as bible truth, figuratively speaking, after having sought the advice of a married friend. “They’ve been married for X-amount of years”, I would think, “of course they know what they’re talking about”, and while there is some truth to that, it still doesn’t negate the need for careful thought, prayer on the matter (whatever it may be), and reflection on what the Scriptures say about the topic of marriage.

So I say this to you, single friend: Married people are most definitely not by necessity holier or wiser than you. We have not reached a more advanced place of spirituality that has given us the right of marriage. We are simply people who the Lord has, by His mercy, allowed to enter into covenant relationship with another believer, to learn to love one another as He loves us, His children, to serve one another, and to, Lord willing, raise children who also love and serve Him. We haven’t done anything to earn this privilege. We are not to be placed on a pedestal. We are not smarter than you, in fact the opposite is probably sometimes true. We mess up every single day. We constantly need to ask forgiveness of our spouses and our children*. We are sinful people in need of a savior just like everyone else.

(* I do not yet have my own children, but in speaking with those friends and family that do, repenting to ones own children seems to be a pretty regular occurrence, one that is both incredibly difficult and at the same time incredibly rewarding.)

I will say this, however: marriage is most definitely a means of expedited sanctification. It will show you just how sinful you really are, in a way that being single simply cannot. I know, I can hear all of my single friends rushing out to find a marriage partner after that last statement. But it really is true. Marriage is a revealer of our true character. In light of that, I encourage marriage. It’s wonderful. If you and another guy or gal love the Lord and love each other, what’s stopping you? But you must want it. You must be prepared to give all of yourself to another person and to make your own wants and desires secondary. But no matter where you are in your life, whether single or married, remember that it is our position in Christ that defines us, not our marital status. We are all contributors to the body of Christ at every stage of life, and for that we should be thankful.

Riley Cooper & The “N” Word

I realize that I may ruffle a few feathers with the contents herein, but I find myself very confused and frustrated this evening, and I need someone to explain a few things to me.

There has been a so-called “news story” floating around that everybody has been talking about today, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why it is such a big deal!

The story is that of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver (and University of Florida alum nonetheless) Riley Cooper and the video that has surfaced of him at a Kenny Chesney concert uttering a derogatory term (the “N” word) in a threatening way. He seems slightly if not fully drunk, and he certainly made a fool out of himself.

However, he has publicly come forth, before the media, fans, and the general public, and has issued a verbal apology for his poor choice of words, and expressed his deepest regrets, and his own team has punished him with a substantial fine monetary fine. To me, all of this seems sufficient enough for the “crime” committed.

The punishment is not, however, seemingly sufficient to the vast majority of the sports media and perhaps the general public (although I’ve not heard much reaction from fans throughout the day). The way this is being treated is as if Riley Cooper has committed some heinous crime, something unheard of, something unspeakable. One sports radio host said that maybe Cooper should just offer to “go away for awhile”. No one likes him right now, including his teammates, and when you’ve offended someone so badly, sometimes it’s just best to go away from them for a while. Fascinating! Another pair of TV show hosts stated how (after the news of the Eagles already issuing a fine was public knowledge) Cooper should be fined by the NFL, and if that weren’t enough, he should be suspended for at least a few games.

Now, I realize the uniqueness of the situation because Cooper is a public figure whose actions are closely followed and the resulting consequences are also dealt with publicly. I guess I just have a problem with this being treated as an out and out hate crime. Come on, people, it was one word. Are we really going to blow this up into something so outrageous when there are so many other far more important issues to be dealt with in our society!? I mean, actual racist crimes are being committed on a daily basis, and we’re ready to crucify a guy because he said a word one time in a state of drunkenness that just so happened to be caught on camera.

Call me insensitive if you will, but I’m calling P.C. B.S. on this whole thing, if you know what I mean. People are being offended everywhere who weren’t even being addressed in this original offense. If a person of another race calls a white person a honky or a cracker on some video somewhere irrelevant to me, I’m sorry, but I’m just not offended by that.

Here’s something else that really bothers me, and I’ve heard the justification over and over again, but I’m just not buying it: How is it that the one word that offends black folks so very much, when changing the “er” to an “a”, perfectly acceptable? The same word that has meant so much offense and hatred for so many years, now through a slight variation of spelling is adopted as a term of brotherhood and closeness, and yet don’t anyone of another skin color call me that because then you hate me and all other people of my skin color. I just don’t buy it.

I honestly think that we need to get off Mr. Riley’s case and get our collective panties out of a wad. The man made a stupid mistake and a costly slip of the tongue. He has owned up to it. He apologized to the public and to his teammates. He has to deal with the cost of that mistake. What more do we want of him? For goodness’ sake, he’s not a criminal. We don’t need to put out an APB on the man. If I’m wrong, feel free to let me know, I simply don’t understand why we must overreact and blow such things out of proportion.

The Gift Of Gifts

In light of this quickly approaching Resurrection Sunday, I wanted to share this beautiful prayer from The Valley of Vision. It speaks so magnificently of God’s ultimate gift to us, His Son, and how utterly incapable we are of coming to Him on our own.

O Source Of All Good,

What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders;
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.

In him thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.

32 Years

Thirty-two years is a long time. Not many things last for thirty-two years. Careers rarely do. If your car does, people write newspaper articles about it. Some folks don’t even live for thirty-two years. 

But my parents were married for thirty-two years, and I still don’t believe that it has quite become a reality to me that thirty-two will never become thirty-three.

Tonight as I was driving home, this song was playing and it made me think of all of this. I never thought it would happen to me. I never thought I would be part of a statistic. I was always hearing the statistics about the rise in the national divorce rate, but, “No”, I thought, “That’ll never happen to my parents. Sure they have their issues, but who doesn’t? They’ve been together for too long, been through and fought through too much. There’s no way they’d give up like that.”

The news of the constant fighting and overall unhappiness hit me like a ton of bricks. I had no idea it was as bad as it was. I was under the impression that my parents were enjoying the ability to spend more time together now that me and my brothers were all out of the house. I was obviously very wrong. Without going into unnecessary detail, within six months of finding out this news, my parents were divorced. 

And that was it. Thirty-two years, gone. All of the security that I had in being part of a unified family was no more. 

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, and obviously there are plenty of good things that came out of my parents’ marriage, namely their three [amazing] children, it’s just that divorce comes as such a shock, even to those who may be anticipating it, even to those who are older when it happens, like my brothers and I. It’s so final. 

I tried to act like it wouldn’t affect me. “I’m a grown man”, I thought. “I don’t like it, but at least this isn’t happening while I’m a still a kid living at home”. And while this was true, it still had and continues to affect me more than I ever thought it would. 

Much of the mental, spiritual, and emotional difficulties I experienced as a result of my parents’ divorce was in large part due to the timing of it all. Literally no more than a few weeks after finding out just how tumultuous my parents’ relationship was, I was to begin courting a young woman for marriage. This dichotomy was one that ate at me for quite some time, and still does at times. Here I was, on the brink of preparing myself for a lifelong commitment to another human being, and my very own parents were themselves about to break the very same vows that I would soon be making. 

I’m not saying all of these things to paint my parents in a negative light. I love them both dearly, and I don’t believe that their divorce has affected my relationship with either of them in a negative way, and for this I thank God. However, their divorce has caused me to self-reflect about my imminent future and the commitment I am about to enter into. These are some of the questions I ask myself:

Do I fully know what I am getting myself into?

Am I prepared to love my spouse more than I love myself?

Am I able to learn from my parents’ mistakes and the mistakes of those around me and not in turn repeat those same mistakes in my own marriage?

Will my own selfishness be the demise of my marriage?

I want to be able to love my wife with a reckless abandon. I want to make her the queen of my universe. I want to treat her like there is no one else living on this planet besides her, even if it means giving up every dream or desire of my own just to make her happy for even a moment. I want to see her as the treasure that she is each and every day. I want to be able to love her, serve her, and provide for her like she deserves. But I know that I cannot do any of these things without Christ. It is absolutely impossible. He must be the center of our relationship, and the model for everything we do. He is the reason for our marriage. It is for His glory and His glory alone. 

I don’t want to make the same mistakes my parents made, but I may. Maybe not all the time, but I’d be a fool not to acknowledge the fact that I am a sinful human being in desperate need of a Savior. I know there will be trials. I’ve been told that by more than enough married people. I just pray that in the midst of those trials, when I am faced with the choice to either love myself or to love her, that I would make the right choice. That I would keep our love for each other in perspective and not get overwhelmed by the circumstances. That Christ would be glorified in my marriage. Our marriage. 

I pray the Lord would give us strength. Strength to love and care for one another always. I pray that He would give us grace. Grace to forgive when it’s the most difficult to. And I pray that he would grant us long life, that we can learn from the examples of my dear parents’ thirty-two years of marriage, and be gracious enough to give us thirty-three and more.