There’s an aspect to the whole “growing up” thing that I believe we can embrace in an important way.
It may just be me, but it seems like as I was going through my teen/college years, I viewed marriage and family as a way of moving up a life-ladder of some sort. “Achieving”, and adding more weight to the bucket of my identity or importance in some ways. Some of that is true. When my wife and I were married almost 10 years ago, I became half of an inter-dependent relationship. The children we’ve brought into the world since then, depend on us for their livelihood.
Especially as we move toward an international adoption, there’s an opportunity and temptation to further inflate my sense of self-importance and pride.
Or, there’s another aspect to all of this. The increased ability to be humiliated.
It’s a bit of Christianity we don’t talk about a ton, but it’s there all the time if we’re willing to let ourselves acknowledge it. God calls us to be humble. Not only to “be” humble, but to perform the action of “humbling ourselves”. As in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” But what we don’t like to realize, is that often the path to increased humility is traveling the road of humiliation. Our pastor reminds us often, and I like it…even if I’m not always a fan of humiliation in the moment.
Opening ourselves up to a marriage relationship can be a rewardingly humiliating experience. No other place in life do we enjoy the amount of vulnerability and openness a covenant relationship of marriage can offer. I’m not simply talking about the obvious areas, like growing old and seeing each other at our worst. My wife has seen me snotty/stuffy, she’s seen me miserably recovering from a tonsillectomy, and endured me passing out on the ER floor. (and those are quite clean compared to the stuff I won’t share here) But there’s more. She knows my heart. Admittedly, I can be a reserved person emotionally. But if there’s one person I can share my most humiliating bits with…the times I feel down, or like a failure…it’s my wife who I can turn to, and be held by. And so, building our relationship and strengthening my marriage – continues to lead me deeper down this path of humility. Even if it means I’m humiliated in front of the woman who has committed to loving me no matter how humble I may get.
Now on top of that incredible and humiliating existence, add the aspect of parenting. Bringing forth tiny versions of ourselves, who end up becoming living breathing reflections of who we are. Tiny little mirrors walking around, pointing out to us and amplifying anything we may do imperfectly. Pointing out to us where we may fall short, even from their innocence of figuring out the world around them. Testing our patience, and revealing the cracks where we may not be as strong as we thought. Helping us realize we may not be 100% yielded to Christ, and forcing us to our knees in prayer when life isn’t easy to fake our way through anymore. Even more so when these events happen at 80 decibels in the cereal aisle of Kroger. Parenting can be a humiliating endeavor…and as Christians – we embrace that as a positive thing. Why? Again…because humiliation leads us to a life that bears the fruit of humility.
So it’s with a bit of irony, and not always a helpful nod that so many Christian parenting books are about helping parents navigate these roads with less difficulty, more smooth sailing, and with control over their lives. Instead of feeling pressure this week to “have it all figured out”, or “knowing the best way to do ______ with your children”….embrace the moments that make you feel humiliated as a parent. Smile when your spouse shares a moment with you that you wouldn’t dare share with anyone else. May God continue to be faithful as we turn to Him from where we are…:)