My boys are not normal.
By that, I mean, they are not like other young boys in our community. Our family has a different focus than most of our neighbors.
Confession: I haven’t always been okay with this.
I want the best for them. Like many first-time parents, early on I assumed that what everyone else was doing was best. And sometimes it feels like fitting in is best. I have no guidelines here. The main thing my formative years taught me about this was that I wanted to do things differently.
I made a lot of mistakes.
I searched scripture for answers. Read all the latest Christian parenting books. But even the most respected Christian writers disagreed on how best to apply Biblical wisdom to parenting. I wish someone had told me, “Laura, trust in Him. You’ll figure it out together.”
I found out the hard way. Over tears and battles; self-doubt and prayer.
So, I sit up and take notice when I come across words such as these:
When we turn our eyes away from our culture to the reality of God’s own parenthood, and to the biblical narratives of other mothers and fathers, we find truths about parenting that challenge our contemporary preoccupations. When we look beyond the few select verses we often focus on, we see that parenting is more than five easy steps or three prayer-filled strategies… Above all, Scripture returns us to our highest calling: to love the Lord our God first, before all others.
These are the words of author Leslie Leyland Fields in her book Parenting is Your Highest Calling, and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.
As I told Leslie in correspondence, “If only! If only I had this book back then.” Oh, how it would have helped me avoid some parental bungling.
Leslie counters the Christianese that leaves so many of us empty.
Myth 6: You represent Jesus to your children.
How often have I heard it? How often have I said it myself?
Dear Lord, help me be Jesus to these children.
As if I could ever.
We do the work of parents, which is to point our children to Jesus…And when my own servant’s heart is emptied, as it often is when I stand among my family’s continual needs, I am reminded that I cannot be Jesus; I can only need Jesus.
Amen to that.
How about this one: Myth 5, You must be following the wrong plan.
This knowledge [that no one knows our children as well as God] frees us to parent like God–not according to a human-sourced formula but according to love and knowledge, not according to ease and efficiency but according to individual needs. Our relationship with each one of our children can be as living and dynamic as our own relationship with our heavenly Father. He loves us freely, irrationally, and according to his nature, and we are to love our children the same, regardless of inconvenience and cost. We can celebrate this freedom an rejoice in God’s inexhaustible creativity, poured out in every child he has given. And poured out upon us as we parent in the footsteps of our Father.
And what about the title myth?
Myth 3: Parenting is your highest calling.
We know better, don’t we? But how often do we unseat the Sovereign from his throne and replace him with our family, as Leslie so aptly states?
If I pursue God first as my highest call and am satisfied in his love, then I am freed not to love my children less but to love them rightly. I am freed from the error of the disciples’ mother, who sought identity and significance through her sons rather than in her role as God’s redeemed daughter. [Matt. 20:20-23]
May I recommend this encouraging book for those new or expectant parents on your Christmas list this season? Even this mother with older children has grown in the reading. This remarkable book repeatedly leads me back to God the Father through my parenting–in both triumphs and blunders.
If you leave a comment on this post between now and next Monday, you may just win a copy of Leslie’s book! Just in time for Christmas! Winner will be announced on Monday, Dec. 14th.
In the spirit of the holiday season, some of us from our little community are promoting 12 Days of Community this Advent season. Would you like to join us? As the body of Christ we are called to build each other up. Is there someone you would like to introduce us to?