“Daddy… it’s a bar axe. I’m telling you that’s what it’s called.”
“Ok. But I still have no idea what that is.”
That was a conversation I had with my son. He was explaining to me a game he plays on his iPod and because I am now old, I don’t understand the fascination with this particular game. I actually enjoy playing some of the games he likes and he has gotten me temporarily addicted to a few. But this one in particular is maddening to me.
He has tried to explain the nuances of the game to me multiple times. He even tried to help me establish my own “home base” on my phone so that I could play the game with him. We have had several conversations about this game… bar axes and other important elements he wants me to understand. The more we have talked about it – mainly him talking and me listening – the more I realize I am probably never going to enjoy this particular game – but I enjoy being a part of it with him. And I also realize there are some lessons for me as a dad in our multiple conversations about his game:
Join My World: That was how he invited me to play along with him. I am quite certain that me “joining his world” will only make his game-army weaker but I know that even something as small as an online game will indeed make our father/son world stronger. When I show him that I love him by participating in what he initiates, when he has opportunities to teach me something, when he can have mastery over something that is an enigma to me – his eyes light up and his smile stretches from ear to ear. I am in his world for a time and he is the king.
You Have To Level Up: Leveling up in this game is critical to success. The higher the level the better the rewards – but also the more difficult the challenges become… In one instance of explaining this to me – he equated it to his belts in his real life karate. He said that when he is a black belt he will be able to handle even the “toughest fighters” if need be – but that lead him to say what I thought was so profound… he said “I guess that’s really about anything.” Yep it is. Our jobs… our money… our faith… our marriages. In every aspect of life we should definitely strive to keep leveling up right? It leads to some excellent stuff. My wife and I are getting ready to celebrate our Level 20 this year… I hope we get a really excellent reward!
You Lose Some, But You Also Win Some: I loved that instruction more than any other. I was just joking with him and said I wasn’t sure I liked this game since I couldn’t win every time. I know he knew I was kidding – but he said, “you can’t win them all… winning all the time is impossible.” And honestly, even if you could win in everything, all the time, nothing would be fun anymore. Don’t the losses make us appreciate the wins even more? I mean – don’t get me wrong, I hate to lose… but I have some losses that have taught me pretty good lessons in life… and they sure do make me appreciate the wins even that much more.
And the last one… You Have To Upgrade Your Bar Axes: Yeah I know… this one had me stumped too… that’s when I said “I don’t have any idea what that is.” And he frustratedly began to try to explain to me that bar axes are where you keep your fighting troops. It’s where they train, eat and sleep. And then it clicked what he meant… “OH Barracks! You mean barracks right?” His reply cracked me up – he asked, “What’s a barracks?” “It’s exactly what you were describing I just didn’t know what a ‘bar axe’ was …” Bar axes are a good reminder to me that I need to really pay close attention… to my son for sure but to my wife and daughter as well – and to life in general. The nuances that I might miss are too important… life is far too short. I have to listen with my ears and mind – but also with my heart…
So here’s to all the bar axes in the world and the unexpected life lessons they will bring you.
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Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. He would love to meet you and your family, so if you are ever in the area – stop by and say hello! Weekend service times are Sundays at 9:30am and 11am!