“OK, Nana! I be the good guy and you be the bad guy.” My response was an emphatic. “No, I will not be the bad guy! I am a good guy!”
As Nana of this dear, hysterically entertaining, almost four-year old I cannot possibly be the bad guy. I have to be the good guy, because I am a good guy. All of us know this exchange. Everyone plays good guys/bad guys growing up. There is nothing the least bit remarkable about this typical childhood stuff.
This brief conversation became most significant, actually shaping my first season as full time caregiver of my littles, giving birth to this blog.
Walking away from the corporate world that I had known for over thirty years came quickly. The birth of our third grandson in May 2014 coinciding with his mom being offered a full time teaching position she so wanted to accept raised unexpected questions. How to make this work best for our family? The idea of caring for the kids always appealed to me. But, leaving the regular paycheck? I couldn’t do that. The money and health insurance, I couldn’t just quit.
But I did. I quit. No real plan as to how it would work because I knew it would. It was the right thing to do. Putting my family first, honoring the most precious gifts of my life, how could it not work? I became Nana on duty, caring full time for an infant, a three- year old and a kindergartener before and after school.
Days filled with Legos, books, super heroes and various other toys. Trips to the library for story time and music class. And no television or “shows”. I established that rule from the get go. Nana shows up and the television goes off. Lots of good guy/bad guy, insisting on being the good guy because I am.
One Sunday morning last spring, puttering around the house getting ready for church, NPR is playing in the background. Listening with one ear, I stop as I hear something that truly took my breath away. The guest, hip-hop Christian artist Lecrae is being interviewed.
“Everyone, once something like Baltimore or Ferguson happens, they need to draw meaning out of it. And in order to draw meaning out of a circumstance like that, you’ve got to create a narrative, and that narrative needs to have a protagonist and an antagonist. I think some people quickly say, “Oh, the police are the antagonists and the black community is the protagonist.” Or the black community — they’re the “thugs” and the antagonists and the police protect and serve; they’re the protagonists. At the end of the day, the real antagonist is the brokenness of humanity. We’re not good guys. None of us are the good guys, right? So if we can’t come together and have conversations and understand our biases and understand that none of us are really the good guys here, then we’re just going to pick a bad guy. And that’s where a lot of the problems come.”
These powerful words overwhelm me, resonating like no other. You bet. I want to be a good guy. I want to be a loving, kind presence in this world. I want to see Christ in every person I encounter. But do I? Oh, how I fool myself. How dishonest am I?
And so the lessons from my littles began and will continue. Stay tuned.