Monday, October 3, 2011

a lesson in parenting

Over the last few months God has taught me a lot about himself through parenting.  As I prepare myself to enter a new phase of parenting (they are all uncharted territory right!?), I have thought about how the Lord perfectly parents me. As I think about adding more children to our family. Children who don't know our language, the tastes of our food, maybe how to go up and down stairs, how to snuggle, whatever it may be. I think of the phases of parenting. That first year where it is all about meeting every need, the high pitched loving voice as we coo at that little baby in our arms, snuggling for hours on end, meeting every cry with a dry diaper, a burped back, a tight swaddle. Then time passes, our parenting changes. The next year or two brings on a different phase. A phase of encouraging independence, cheering as they crawl, take their first step, drink from a cup, feed themselves cheerios. Following this, a phase of discipline added onto the love and encouragement we have been giving. Having to set limits, boundaries, and enforce them over and over and over. A new phase begins, one where our child spends more and more time apart from us, "needs us less" in a certain sense of the word, but needing us in a different way. Needing us to come along side them as they decide how they will treat others, how they will obey, how they will navigate the world. There is a lot less of that "high pitch voice" and coos that there once were, there are more heart to hearts. Discussing the purpose of our family, how to work as a team, how to serve others. I think about a few weeks ago when reese came home from school and i asked her if there were any bad parts about her day. She told me how she got her feelings hurt when someone made fun of her hair when she took it down after p.e. Someone called her ugly and that she looked stupid. I was so sad she had to experience that. I remember being aftaid to send her to school because i knew she would face that kind of stuff. After she told me i got an opportunity to speak into her tender heart about her value, her preciousness, and what the Lord thinks of her. If she would not have gone through that hard time, i wouldnt have had her attention to take that chance to speak value into her heart. I know we will face a lot more of that as a family as we become a family of different colors. Lots of people will miss the beauty of it. It wont make sense to many. I know it will bring an opportunity to speak the gospel into our kids that we wouldnt have gotten to live out otherwise.  I don't know what the next phase will look like after this. But I think about my spiritual growth as it relates to these phases. It helps me think about the times God has been "silent" or what I thought was him pulling away from me. I would get so discouraged as to why he wasnt speaking so constantly to me as he did when I was growing fiercely fast. But then I think, maybe he is a proud father sitting back and watching what his child will do with her independence. There to coach and mentor and direct when needed, but I am at a different phase of growth in my spiritual life than when I was a "baby". Similar to 1 corinthians 3, he gave me spiritual baby food when I needed that. He knows my growth and I know he wants my growth. It looks different in different phases. Sometimes he is right next to me, speaking words and hand on my shoulder. And sometimes he just gives me the paint and a blank canvas and says Go. I am learning to enjoy both and lean on him in new ways. I am learning to consult him in different ways than when I was at a different phase of growth. I am learning to interpret him in new ways. I am learning to let fact walk before my faith, so that my faith is always focused on the fact of who God is and what he says about himself. And I've learned (and am still learning) to let my feeling follow my faith, always keeping its eyes on faith who is keeping its eyes on fact. When I get that order mixed up, that is when I doubt God's presence in my life. I let my feelings dictate my faith and that is not rooted in the fact of the Gospel. Jesus in my place. I am so thankful for a heavenly father who is patient and kind, but wildly fierce in his power. I am thankful for the times he has let me walk into hard things out in the world because it has given him an opportunity to speak value, wisdom and affirmation in my life I wouldn't have been needing otherwise.

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