Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sacred Parenting: Chapter 5: Joy!

~How Raising Children Helps Us Embrace God's Joy~

I'm sure I've written before how parenting is a daunting and overwhelming task, and it is. Any parent that wants to raise godly children, should, I think have a healthy respect for the job. However, I am discovering that without joy, without laughter (even at mistakes), without freedom, without Christ above all, parenthood is a heavy burden that will bring me to the ground long before the race (or the week) is over. I hate to think of the woman I will be if there is no joy in the journey! That's a long road!

This chapter was a blessing to me. In a way, it gave me permission to relax in my chair, take a breath, and slow down. When I read these Christian parenting books, however great they are, I read with a certain level of anxiety, not wanting to forget a single thing so that once I close the book, I can immediately begin to put the information into practice. I don't think I took a single breath the entire month I read Shepherding a Child's Heart! Anyways, this book, and this chapter in particular helped me to calm down a bit, and helped me to see that everyone, my children included, will be better off if I do.

So what'd he say? For one, he talked about changing the way we pray for our children. Most of us pray for 1. protection and 2. that God would change our children to be more godly and less sinful and more polite and things like that. These are fine prayers that should be prayed often, but Thomas argues that we forget an important prayer, one that will give us joy and perspective...the prayer of thanksgiving. As often as we pray for protection and change, we should give thanks to God for our children, who He has created them to be, and what He is doing in them. If we pray only for protection, we will begin to be swallowed up by fear. If we pray only for change, we begin to only see our children's faults. If we offer a prayer of thanksgiving we begin to take more joy in them and more joy in God. Thomas writes this:

"Think about it: if every time you prayed to God He seemed neurotically fearful for your safety, and then spent the entire time nitpicking over every possible flaw and absence of manners, how often would you want to pray? Not very! If your Heavenly Father does not model His care by showing obsessive fear for us and constantly harping over our failures, why should we build our relationship with our children on such a worthless foundation? How much better to follow His model and rejoice in our children!"

Children are a blessing. They simultaneously bring us down to earth (with the spit up and diapers and tantrums and disobedience) and take us to the mountain tops (with hugs and kisses and sweet words and smiles). With kids, our choices are illuminated. They can help us fight busyness or help us cause it. They can help us become selfless or make us cling to selfishness. They can help us to be grateful or remind us what we've given up. If we are looking through the lens of Christ, children can lead us towards joyful holiness. When we are together, enjoying one another and enjoying God...sanctification happens...His Kingdom is happening!

A final quote:

"It's a natural principle of life that the more time, effort and energy we put into our family, the more we hold it dear."


Erin said...

Y'know, at Cristina's funeral I heard one of her daughters say something I don't think I'll ever forget. She recalled how Cristina knew that God's grace would perfect her parenting. Isn't that rich? That we all know that somehow some little (minuscule, really) flaw will leak through and scar our children for life. But this woman's testimony and inheritance for her children was that God's grace is/was sufficient, even in her flaws.
Sounds like a great chapter.

Steph said...

Oooo...that is beautiful and so true. God uses broken people to raise other broken people. He designed it that way. Why is it so hard to rest in that and enjoy the beauty of it?

Thanks for sharing that!