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My Beautiful Complication

My family had all kinds of complications in relationships. I would like to meet
the person who did not. Since when is being absolutely perfect what being a
human is? What do we gain from that? –Anthony Edwards

I’m not sure who Anthony Edwards is, but I’m sure he would understand my daughter. Today is my daughter’s birthday. Lauryn is a healthy, vibrant, opinionated, and highly complicated little 3 year old. It’s on her birthday that Starr and I often remind each other of the CODE RED hospital moment in her first week of life. She just up and stopped breathing, little stinker! Watching one’s daughter hooked up to machines, and sitting in an ICU can be a life-changing moment. For this dad, I settled with God on that night that I would never take for granted the life within each of my children. I learned that each and every day was a gift from God, and that even if tomorrow isn’t promised I know that the the very moment I’m living in is. She pulled through it miraculously and it’s been such a long time ago, that it’s easy to forget the day.

Lauryn is my third kid, and my only daughter. She is easily the most complicated kid I have ever been around. It is like wrestling a bear to get her to do something that isn’t her own idea. She makes everything from hair combing, putting her head on a pillow at night, and where she sits at the dinner table a complicated undertaking. Her brothers are the polar opposites in every way, willing to settle for whatever Mom or Dad suggest or command; but Lauryn has a nasty independent streak that goes mostly undetected in both of her brothers. She has gone an entire day unwilling to put pants on, because she didn’t like the ones that her mother picked out for her. (And before you think us to be bad parents, please know that to coexist with this complicated little girl we’ve had to choose our battles carefully… and not wearing long pants in the house when you have nowhere to go rates as not very important.)

Starr and I could choose to complain about these complications or we could label our daughter as difficult. I refuse to do so. I will not label my daughter as some sort of problem to be solved. I choose to think of her as my Beautiful Complication. I’ve come to see these the complications she brings to every activity as the blessings that force me to adapt and adjust my parenting style. I’ve learned to appreciate the idiosyncrasies in Lauryn, and have come to see them as potential life-changing moments for me. And really, are complications all that bad? Getting married sure complicated my life, but I wouldn’t change anything about that! Having kids added some massive complications to my life; yet I would do all of them again if given the chance!

So Happy Birthday to my beautiful complication!
Daddy loves his Lauryn!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Kelly · September 16, 2008

    That was great. Can I borrow that title “beautiful complication” for my daughter?

  2. Bryan · September 17, 2008

    Wow, what a great read! I’m a huge fan of your blog and I love reading about your kids.

    Anthony Edwards is an actor: Goose in Top Gun, Gilbert in Revenge of the Nerds, Dr. Greene on ER.