“My Strong Family” by: Topher Wiles
“Look dad!” Micah yells as he strains, grunts, and huffs his way to a half pull-up. At five years old, my third son carries a bulk heftier than his siblings. If Gabriel is built for tennis and Ethan is built for wrestling, then Micah is definitely built to be a line-backer. Being over twice Micah’s age, Gabriel recently achieved his first honest pull-up, a great achievement for a sixth grader. Any of our readers who have multiple children know the “monkey-see-monkey-do” routine of the younger brothers and sisters. So here we are, watching what must be Micah’s hundredth attempt at a pull-up. Teeth are gritted. Face is strained. Knuckles are white. Micah is still only halfway up when his arms finally give out.
Why do I watch eagerly without wavering in attention? Why do I lock my eyes on Micah’s like a heat seeker homing in on its target? Why do I cheer, encourage, and high-five this pre-k hulk before, during, and after his inevitable failure at accomplishing a single pull-up? Stay with me a moment while I tell you an awful and amazing story to answer our questions.
January of 2018 was much colder than this year. The frigid temperatures saw me working feverishly to get my new-to-Sparta family out of our RV and into the new home we purchased. Before we could pack up and move our belongings out of our Indiana home and into our Sparta home, I had some serious work to do. I began to feel a small strain in my back after days of ripping carpet and pulling staples from the existing hardwood floor that lay underneath in our new home. Yet a weekend closing date on our home in Indiana meant that I couldn’t slow down for pain or strain. I had to get everything ready to move within 5 days since the buyers of our home up north were taking immediate possession when they signed on the line.
It was the deadline, the long hours remodeling, and the lack of proper strengthening that landed me in Ty Webb’s office (one of our elders at Central Church of Christ), writhing in pain from my first lower back injury. Did you know that you can be in so much pain that it induces your vomit reflex? Yeah, I didn’t either. I wonder what was going through Dr. Webb’s mind as his new preacher was crying like a baby, unable to stand up, and begging for a trash can to mitigate the effects of the up-chuck reflex at 7am that Wednesday morning. I wonder what the emergency room doctor in Indiana was thinking three days later when he was told the story of my back injury and how I was writhing in pain on his gurney because I hurt it again attempting to load my recently sold house into a U-Haul.
I wonder at these things a year later as I enjoy one of the fittest moments of my life. I’m stronger now in my back, arms, and legs than I’ve ever been before. I’m stronger entering into 2019 than this time last year because of family. It was my church family in Indiana that came to our rescue and loaded that moving truck. It was our church family in Tennessee that moved me and my wheelchair to the front porch to let me watch as they unloaded my belongings into our new Sparta home. It was Dr. Ty Webb, my brother-in-Christ, who encouraged me to do my first triathlon as he continued to watch over my strengthening progress. It was my wife and kids who took up the slack to let my body rest and heal. It was my family who continued to sacrifice time so that I could visit the YMCA every morning to get stronger, be healthier, and become a better version of my former self. I am stronger today because of the love, care, and attention of my family.
Why do I give my love, care, and attention to Micah even though he can’t do a pull-up? The reason doesn’t lie in the pull-up itself. I could care less if the boy can do 1, 10, or 100 pull-ups (although 100 pull-ups at 5 years old would be cool!). What I do care about is Micah knowing that he has my love, care, and attention as he becomes a stronger version of himself. That’s what God, my heavenly Father, did for me through the trials of the last year. Love, care, and attention – that’s what families give.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” – Ephesians 6:10
The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength. Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at CentralChurch of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself. If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.