Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Excerpt

I've been reading Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas and I read a paragraph today that really impacted me. Chapter 3 is titled The Gold behind the Guilt - how raising children teaches us to deal with guilt. He opens the chapter with a story of a wandering, lost little boy without a mom insight.  When the mom and son are finally reunited her emotions move from joy to extreme guilt.

Upon reuniting the boy and mom, the author comes to find the child had become quite the escape artist. His parents had put three locks on the front door for him as one lock and then two locks were not enough. Grandma had come over to visit and Dad ran out to run to the store and inadvertently only locked two of the three locks. Jr saw the opportunity while mom was chatting with grandma and performed one of his amazing Houdini acts.

How could anyone call this mom a bad parent? Three locks for an 18 month old? I don't see a bad mom. However the only one throwing accusations at her was herself.

Been there, done that!

Then the author goes through several examples of parenting in scripture that frankly, were very encouraging. Then came these words:
None of us can be such good parents that God becomes obligated to save our children's souls. One the more encouraging end, none of us can mess up so badly that our children somehow extend beyond the reach of God's mercy.
Then a few paragraphs later were these words:
I realized a truth that had lain hidden for so long. Though I had wonderful, godly parents, I still grew up with certain disappointments that I wanted to rectify as a parent. It finally dawned on me that I had asked something of my parents that they could never be; I had wanted them to love me as only God can love me, and now I wanted to love my kids as only God can love them.
In short, either I was setting up rivals for God or I was trying to compete with God - both are efforts doomed to failure. I finally came to a major crossroads; instead of competing with God, I realized God had called me to focus my efforts on introducing my kids to God, even using my own failures and inadequacies as compelling causes for my children to find their refuge in him.

What truth!!

I have a girlfriend here in IL that has been such an example to me of great parenting.  I first thought that she realized that kids are kids and will be childlike and lovingly gave space for that. While I am sure this a truth she operates in, after reading this chapter and remembering conversations we've had, I realize now that she is simply not competing with God.  I'm so thankful for her transparency!

What an audacious thought; me competing with God! I'm humbled to admit it. At the same time, how freeing to have my job description redefined.

Anyone else ever struggle with parenting guilt?

Lord Jesus, there is always more I can do, more I can give, more I can sacrifice. Transform my mind Jesus, to remember I can never be the source of satisfying love for anyone the way you are, and that no one but you can ever be that source for me either. Help me to give my kids (and everyone else I'm in relationship with) the freedom you give me and to use every opportunity as an instance to find you. Thank you Jesus for the freedom of not having to be a perfect parent. Thank you for the freedom of not having to be a functional saviour for my kids (or anyone else).  Thank you for the gifts and blessings of parenting. You are a good God!

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