My wife Toni has taken to scrapbooking and to creating photobooks. A few weeks ago when our analog albums were spread out all over the floor, I noticed something that kind of took my breath away:  the pictures of our kids when they were young don’t look old to me at all.  They aren’t yellowed, cracked or faded.  I may look younger (and thinner), but somehow I could imagine that the pictures of my kids at age two could have been taken yesterday.

Except that they weren’t taken yesterday.  My sons are now 18 and 14.  And one is going off to college in September.

When I see other people’s pictures of their kids a decade or more ago, I think wow, that was a long time ago.  When I see my kids pictures from a decade and a half ago I think wow, that was just yesterday. Some of you understand what I’m talking about.

When my eldest son was born, I remember an older man at church named Bill telling me to hang on, because the time would fly by.  I didn’t really understand at the time how accurate he was.  The shocker for me is that while parenting is a life long commitment, we’re kind of ‘done’ with our eldest son.  He’s gone soon.  Out of the house.  Graduating into adulthood.  His formative years are, well, formed.  And it happened so fast.

Which reminds me how important it is to begin with the end in mind.  I still feel like I have so much to learn about parenting, and I wish I knew then some of the things I know now.  But as imperfect as my parenting has been, one thing I realized early on is that who they are going to become is far more important than what they are going to do.  After all, you carry who you are into everything you do.

Who they become informs:

  • How they relate to God
  • The quality of their friendships and relationships
  • What they bring to their marriage and parenting
  • What they bring into every job they’ll ever have

When the kids were young, Toni and I prioritized their relationship with God above all else.  Whether our kids barely finished high school or graduated summa cum laude from an ivy league school, we knew nothing mattered more than their relationship with God.  Character flows out of that.  Life flows out of that.  And eternity flows out of that.

The hard part as a parent, of course, is that are no guarantees.  We couldn’t orchestrate faith for them – we could simply prioritize it and live and pray toward it.

And I have to say, eighteen years later, I’m so glad we set that priority.  Because time just flew.  Raced actually.  And here we are.

How about you?  Maybe if you’re stuck with three in diapers, it may seem like the end will never arrive (pardon the pun).  But I promise you, it will.  How does the shortness of time impact you?

What do you struggle with as you try to set priorities for your parenting?