I remember when I was close to turning 16 years old, my parents and I started looking for a car. At the time, the Pontiac Sunfire was a really popular car, especially for kids. I was totally opposed to it. Why? It had daytime running lights. I thought that was totally uncool.
Isn't that so silly? Oh man, the mind of a 15 year old. I had no idea then how easy life was for me. Running lights? Really? That's what I was worried about? My parents, of course, liked the idea because it was for safety.
I think at the time, daytime running lights were a new concept. I wondered, why would I want lights that I couldn't turn off? That didn't make sense. Who cares about safety, I thought. It's all about looking cool.
Well, I didn't end up getting that Sunfire. My first car was a Mustang, which I drove for 9 years. I am not a sentimental person, but when I think about that car, I remember how much I LOVED that car. I think about this memory and it makes me laugh.
I was being such a brat. Meanwhile, my parents were thinking about how to keep me safe. That's what being a parent is about. After I had my daughter, I'll never forget the overwhelming feeling I had come over me. It is something that I really can't explain. It was like I had been bee-bopping around living for me for 26 years, and then all of a sudden, this person entered my life. A person who I knew I would throw myself in front of a bus to protect, if need be.
That is a crazy type of love; self-sacrificing and unconditional. I mean, you love your spouse, but it is not the same as the love you have for your child. They are part of you. Part of you runs through them. This was a difficult feeling for me to deal with in the beginning.
There weren’t any baby books to prepare me for that feeling. I wanted to protect her from everything. If I could install running lights on her forehead, I would, so people would always see her coming. People won't bump into her, I will always be able to see her, and she will never get lost. However, that’s just not the way life works. That is not what it’s like to be a parent. Our children do get hurt and sometimes they make the wrong choices.
I think about the choices I have made in my life. I still can't imagine how conflicted my parents must have felt while I worked my way up the ladder of Planned Parenthood. My parents always taught me to be independent, to have a strong work ethic, to be a leader.
And, that's what I was doing. I was pouring my life into this organization that they despised. But, they were always proud of me and they were always proud of my accomplishments.
When I received the "employee of the year" award they were the first ones I called and they were proud. I called them first when I found out I would be sitting with Hillary Clinton at the PPFA national conference and they were proud. I called them first when I got the promotion to Health Center Director and they were proud.
They were always proud of me, not necessarily proud of my work. Where were those running lights? :) Where were those signs telling me that I was headed down a road that was unsafe, that it wouldn't be good for me?
I saw them, but I ignored them. The lights didn't help. The horns didn't help. Only the voice of Christ could penetrate my heart. He was the only one that could bust through the static and sound clearly. But where would I be now without that strong foundation given to me by my parents?
I wouldn't have known to even open my heart and my ears to hear the voice of Christ without that foundation. Our kids deserve that. They deserve more. They deserve our all. They deserve more than just that feeling of protection, we have to act.
We have to be proactive when it comes to our kids. Unfortunately, our kids don't come with built in running lights, we have to be the light for them.