In my 20s, I lived in Wiesbaden, Germany. I worked at the U.S. Air Force Wiesbaden Hospital.

Bright one morning in the summer of 1986, helicopters hovered over the hospital. My American friend and I were curious as to why the helicopter was landing so close to the hospital. As we watched just inside the glass door they would soon walk through, out stepped several men in black suits. They surrounded a man. From the balcony, people cheered as they entered the building. Suddenly I realized I was an arm’s length away from the vice president of the United States, and in that moment I smiled and waved. He  looked straight at me and chuckled! It was a very kind, unassuming laugh. It didn’t make me feel bad; perhaps he understood my predicament. There I was, unprepared and a bit untidy. I was new to the whole military scene. However, I had saluted 4-star generals, colonels, and captains before. But in that moment, I just forgot that I was in the presence of their boss. Instead of saluting as I should have, the best I could come up with was a wave and a big smile.

As a parent, there are times I still think of this scene. I should treat my children like I was treated. Yes, I am in charge of our homes, and there are certain ways things should be done. But this is a whole new world, and my children aren’t always sure when to salute and when to wave. Hopefully, I will gently guide them more than I will demand them.

Even God, Creator of all the earth and deserving the utmost respect, allows us to choose our actions. There are consequences for these choices, and at times there are none. Sometimes God simply smiles and chuckles when we wave and we should’ve saluted; when we lash out when we should’ve shown compassion; when we push forward instead of pray and be still.