Marilyn and I are very proud of our two grown sons. They are close in age, only 18 months apart, yet have completely different personalities. We’re grateful they’ve maintained a wonderful camaraderie as they’ve grown into manhood. Like most siblings, they are completely unique of one another. When Jason, born with dark hair and dark eyes, was closely followed by Ryan, with his snow blond hair and hazel eyes, we recognized it was an indicator that our sons were two completely different people. But then as their personality’s blossomed, the contrast between our two sons was remarkable. Jason, always pleasant but never quiet, thrived on attention; Ryan, always quiet but strongly independent, seemed to require nothing more than the bare essentials. From birth, Jason thrived in a group setting but Ryan was quite happy to be left to his own devices. The two have always had completely different personalities.
Those differences manifested quickly as they grew. Jason was fastidious—very particular about the details of his life. Even as he played, he’d go to great lengths to assure each toy was carefully arranged on our carpeted floors: farm yards and construction sites each with buildings and fences, often laboriously detailed, using scrap paper and cardboard to house hundreds of toy figures. Ryan, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as impressed with lifeless farm figures and toy tractors. For him, life was less about details and more about action. Both were very athletic, but Ryan most enjoyed the contest of sports. He quickly demonstrated a fascination with the numeric’s of scoring and the sequential elimination of a tournament ladder. Even in early grade school, he devoted a great deal of his free time to tournament brackets. The walls of our basement were routinely plastered with basketball tournament brackets like the ones used during NCAA’s March Madness. A bedraggled miniature goal hung precariously from crude moorings—the sagging victim of endless slam dunks. You can imagine how the low-hanging open rafters of an unfinished basement simply didn’t allow for long range shooting but rather demanded all scoring be from close range. It was in the lonely setting of an otherwise empty basement that young Ryan played out hundreds of make-believe tournament games carefully filling in each victory until the current bracket was complete. Then he’d sit at the kitchen table and draw up another…and another. During the winter months particularly, all we’d hear from the basement was his arrhythmic dribbling and the thunk of the ball as it careened off the rafter mounted goal. Occasionally he’d immerge, draw up yet another new bracket, grab a snack and head to the basement.
Despite their differences, the brothers did play with one another. Jason often joined Ryan and together they would compete against one another, working through a complete tournament over several days. And Ryan would sometimes venture into Jason’s miniature world of farming and the moving of earth by heavy equipment like dozers and backhoes.
As brothers go, they played well together…that is, most of the time. But when conflict did erupt, it most often occurred when Ryan entered Jason’s carefully arranged world. Ryan’s free-wheeling, fast-action style didn’t bode well with Jason’s carefully detailed life-like arrangements. Ryan loved head on collisions—havoc wreaking action in which tractors morphed into dinosaurs who devoured houses and livestock. Horrified, Jason would wail in protest as he scrambled to restore order to his painfully devised pastoral scenes. Whether Ryan absentmindedly stumbled through Jason’s diorama leaving a tornado like path of mayhem or whether he launched a deliberate air strike, these were the times that tried our souls as a family.
Today, they’ve continued to follow their natural propensities into the real world. Ryan, an OSU grad, works for a prominent gaming and entertainment company while Jason, a pastor and student of theology, is employed by the Fairfield County Engineer where he, not-surprisingly, oversees the maintenance of our roadways.
I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit how proud I am of my two sons. Or should I say, my sons have made me proud…yea, I like the sound of that better. I can blame my hubris on them. I’m proud they have the opportunity and the wisdom to pursue life-work that matches their natural propensities.
Solomon writes in Proverbs 23:24, “The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.”
Consider this…you are wonderfully and uniquely made, and your Heavenly Father rejoices when you wisely use your natural abilities to display his creative wisdom. Be Blessed, RG
Read Ron’s column, Simple Faith, each Saturday on the Faith Page (page 3) of the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, or visit www.lancastereaglegazette.com.