(For Our Children And Any Other) If You Stomp Your Foot.

7 11 2012

Part Three:

Sitting here thinking about 1 Peter 1:17 where it says, a good father helps his child; and a responsible father doesn’t let their child get away with sloppy living. Thinking about this aspect of how God doesn’t simply let us get away with things, how sloppy living matters to Him so much that, as a good Father, He engages.

That leads me to wonder what a person should be able to get away with. Coming from a parent’s perspective we don’t want to be too heavy handed with our children; but neither do we want to be irresponsible. God describes himself as a responsible parent, so what does that look like for us?

Do we consider requests as they are presented, and give one a “check” and another an “x”? Should you kids come with your list and we will decide which ones are reasonable and which one’s aren’t; and will this be based on how we feel that day? Or how you feel, perhaps? If you stomp your foot, will we take that into consideration?

God as a good father stands outside of that and just does what is right.

And then there is the less defined world of attitudes and tone of voice and body language. Are those our department? Are we to address everything? Your work ethic, your Internet practices, your language, your dress, and how you spend your money?

When you were young, it was so obvious:

  • You can’t hit someone.
  • You can’t just leave our yard.
  • You can’t refuse to take a bath.
  • You can’t feed your dinner to the dog.

But what about later, like now, when you are 15, 16 and 17? Does parenting become a suggestion? There are days when 2 Corinthians 4:8 could describe how it feels to be a parent,  “troubled on every side…perplexed…”. There are days the push-back is so intense that letting you be feels like a better alternative than staying the course; it would be a relief to not have to wrestle with you.

Hebrews 12 asks, “Which children are not disciplined by their father?” So, if they do fly under the radar, if they do avoid discipline, they aren’t being treated as a true son or daughter. It says that a parent does what they think is best for the child, and though it might create discomfort for a while, it is meant to produce something good in the end.

That’s the thing about being a parent: we always have the end in sight while kids live in the moment. Exactly how it works with God and us. While we are so concerned about today or tonight or the weekend, God is looking much further down the road and asking what it will mean for us.

1 Peter 1:17 says, a good father helps his child; and a responsible father doesn’t let their child get away with sloppy living. This is a pretty hands-on verse. Active or passive? I think the Bible would say that we need to be active in how we engage with parenting but that still doesn’t spell it out for me. If you rebel against how we have chosen to lead our home, what then? The father of the prodigal let him pack up and live recklessly until he ran out of steam; the shepherd left all his sheep to rescue a lost one; what is the prescription?

This is our question to lose sleep over, not yours.

The Bible is clear about your posture, as the child: children always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord (Colossians 3:20). Exodus 20:12 adds a promise: “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Our role is to not be thoughtless in how we do so; to not discourage you, belittle you, pick at you about meaningless things; we should not be excessive in how we discipline you so that it is cruel and crushes you. We are to be diligent and consistent as we guide you. We are to see who you are, work with what God has created you to be, and encourage you to excel in your gifts. Ephesians 6:4 adds that we ought to raise you with discipline and instruction about the Lord.

When you stomp your foot: that’s sloppy behavior on your part and we can’t look the other way. We can’t just hope it works out in the end. We can’t “not say” anything. We have to restrict your freedom if you abuse it. We must raise you.

How will we do it?

I am still in the workshop on this, but I know Jesus is saying, “Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it” (Matthew 11:29 The Message). He assures me in Isaiah 40:11 that He will lead those who have young.

Parents do what they think is best, and really, that is true. We really think something is best. What if we get it wrong? What if we should have pursued rather then wait. What if we wait when we should have pursued. Not to abdicate responsibility, but I am trying hard to listen to what Jesus is saying and I trust that if we don’t get it spot on, He will fill in the gaps.

And do I ever have to watch my heart right now! Not only do I have to contend with your behavior, I have to contend with my own.  I have my own selfishness, my own frustration, my own sense of betrayal at times, my own questions, my own hurt, my own weariness my own…my own sloppiness.

As much as I don’t know; as much as I am figuring things out as I go along, I am clear on a one word prayer and that it is as valid as an hours worth; that it is as worthy an appeal to the heart of God. It is only one word, useful for most situations and certainly the one I am in now: Help!

— Teresa Klassen

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