Posts Tagged ‘parenting’
Years ago, when we began the journey of adoption, it was surprising to read in “The Connected Child” that we would want our daughter to cry. Reading the explanation, however, seemed to make perfect sense. For a child who has never known the safe environment of a loving home and parents who cared for her needs, she has to learn the instinct to cry out. Previously, crying gained her nothing, or quite possibly the opposite of affection, and so she may have “unlearned” the behavior. As our child became connected to us, it would become evident through moments like crying out – knowing she could trust a proper and loving response.
Fast forward several years. We’ve finally brought home a daughter who is about 5 years old, and not only has she “unlearned” many habits of children who grow up in healthy environments – she’s also acquired many habits of children who grow up in unhealthy environments. She is loved, for the first time as never before, and brought in to being part of a family. At first, she didn’t understand much of anything. What did “Father” mean? What did “Mother” mean? There are certain things, and certain words, that if you were to examine them in the routine of many normal homes it would be confusing. But in our context, where we’re attempting to purposefully build the connections most children would naturally develop from birth, they make sense.
Now take a step back. Think about the Old Testament and the actions or words spoken between God and His people. A common question among people who don’t want to believe in God, or even those who do but are honest with their doubts – “Why would God command ______? Why would God do ________?”
I can’t pretend to understand the mind or heart of God completely, but I do understand the heart of a Father who wants to connect with the heart of their child. A child who has never known a Father like this before. A child who has become so separated from the concept of “family” or “parent”, that it is a completely foreign concept.
So we see God calling out His people from among all others. We see God rescue His people, only to force them into depending on Him through the wilderness for 40 years. We hear words from God about the wrath He’s capable of, even though ultimately He reveals His heart to be powerfully Loving and full of Grace for humanity. (lol, I realize that sounds bad here. No worries, we’re not threatening wrath or taking our daughters on 40 year wilderness journeys.)
It’s not the kind of relationship we’d have if we were born aware of Him. But it’s an adoption that impacts us to the very core of our being, for eternity. Romans 8:15 reminds us, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
One of the most natural ways to build that connection and bond? Simply to hold our daughter, and to allow her to feel our love. To remind her that we are here, and she is here, and she is ours no matter what happens. To help her feel safe, and loved, and comforted. To provide for her needs, and help her to see how depending on us to meet those needs is a trustworthy habit to develop.
In this moment – maybe it’s a good reminder for you and I – if this is what I am aware of, can’t we trust that God knows even better how to move His children into a fully connected relationship with Him? We can trust in these moments, if we allow ourselves to be held by Him, to listen to His words, and to depend on Him to provide – these are habits worth developing in our own lives.
Even as I continue to pray my daughter would know my love deep in her heart, and not just in behavior – I also pray that my heart would deeply come to know the Love of my Father, not just in my behavior. I pray that God would use this understanding of His Love – to invite even more children into fuller connection with Him…
Last week I sat down to watch “Galaxy Buck: Mission to Sector 9″ with my kids, and I was kinda blown away. Here, condensed into a 40 minute children’s puppet movie (with quite a bit of humor), was a potent message. Not just a good message. I mean – take all the current spiritual living, devotional, God/Christ-centered literature that has come out in recent years – this movie will summarize a large percentage of it.
Buck works in a call center for a large ministry, and is discontent because the poster on his wall constantly reminds him “God wants you to do BIG things!” He feels like he’s not accomplishing what God wants, and gets excited when there seems to be a chance. Things go awry, and he finds himself bummed again. Then, in the subterranean levels of an alien planet, he meets someone who rips his goal apart. Literally. He takes Bucks’ poster, and rips it so that the words left read, “God wants you.” I asked my 10-year-old daughter the next day what the message of the movie was about, and she answered clearly the same thing: “God doesn’t want you to do big things, as much as God wants YOU. You’re not a shark, you’re a jellyfish caught in the flow of God’s Love.”
The obvious push-back to that is: “That sounds like an excuse for laziness, and not trying anything.” Certainly it could be manipulated into that. But when we allow ourselves to exist fully in the flow of God’s Love – we have to trust that WILL call us to be actively offering ourselves fully toward the mission of lives, community and creation transformed. But our activity doesn’t begin with us setting a goal of “accomplishing great things for Jesus”. It begins with us relinquishing control of everything in our being, into the great Love of God. That may mean we accomplish great things by the measures of this world, or that mean we lose everything and all noteriety for His sake.
The first step? Allowing the truth of that ripped poster to sink in. “God wants YOU.” Not because of your gifts or talents. Not because of your heritage. Not because you’re specifically poised to accomplish what no one else could ever do. Not because of your purity. But because He Loves you. Fully and completely, and without reserve. Just as much when you were making horrible decisions as He does today. Most of us have been loved wrong by a human in our lives, and it messes up the kind of love we even see as possible. So let the love of God sink in a bit, and then release yourself to it. There is no greater place to exist, or calling to walk forward with…
For more on covenanting with God to do/be whatever He wants, check out this modern version of the “John Wesley Covenant Service” I’ve written for use in a church setting.
For a few words on God simply desiring/loving you as His child, here’s a Spoken Word I recently recorded.
Anyone who has spent time in a land where a different language is spoken knows just how much it can impact your daily existence – even in small ways that add up. It made me think about something bigger…
There is an ancient language, that has always existed. Long before we could measure time itself, this language brought order to chaos and spoke form to formless. The language was shared by both creator and creation, but it didn’t take long before the language was forgotten by those created to speak it into and over creation.
It was the language of love. The language of life. The language of new.
The language of God.
The brokenness in what was intended to be natural communication caused pain. A father whose children no longer knew what it meant that they were loved infinitely and intimately. These children pursued other sources of identity and value. So He “called out” a people and enabled them to speak this language with Him. It was meant to be a living illustration for all peoples, of what life could be like with these new ancient linguistic capabilities. Finally, the world was ready, and He came down to tear down the walls of silence separating those who could not speak or hear.
The Word was for all. Some chose to listen, and not speak. Some chose to speak, and not listen. Some misunderstood, for the words they heard were not the ancient Word, but merely poor imitations of those who’d grown able to repeat what they’d heard, but had no idea how such grammar functioned.
Yet God continued to hear and speak, and this ancient language was changing lives and bringing redemption to brokenness, light to darkness, love to emptiness, and hope to hopeless. It is the whisper of a space and time where such language will be the ONLY language spoken by all. Many have heard the proclamation that such a time has arrived even now, and have begun to speak that way.
But such language was foreign to the self-centered dialects that had been established over time. As the people aware of this ancient tongue go out speaking the language of New Creation, they grow tired of the constant need for translation and surroundings that don’t seem to understand. So regularly, these New Creation citizens gather together for encouragement. They celebrate by joining as one voice and hearing from God, and go out with a renewed commitment to help others recover the language they were born to speak.
Unfortunately, some have allowed such gathering to become the purpose and goal of the language. We are reminded that the purpose of language is to be spoken. The purpose of this ancient transforming love and life-giving language is that it would be heard and spoken by all. It is the language of New Creation. The language that will transform your home, your community, and our world. The language of Love found in the life and Words of Jesus Christ.
These words may not always make sense to the language our world has learned to speak. These words may look foolish. But they are Love, in ways our creation was made to receive ages ago…and will one day again fully.
Will you hear the Father’s love today? Will you speak? Will you join with others who need the encouragement of your presence in such endeavors? You are invited…
Moses: Hello rock.
Rock: Hello Moses.
Moses: How are you today?
Rock: Oh, ya’ know, it pretty much rocks being me.
Moses: lol, always so witty. Hey, do you think you could give us some water? God said it was cool.
Rock: Well sure (transforms into giant office water tank). Go ahead.
Moses: Wow, that’s a pretty nifty trick.
People: WHOO HOOO. Hooray for the Lord, God of Moses! All of creation responds to His desires!
You may not recognize the above story from your time in scriptures. That’s because it never got a chance to happen. In Numbers 20:8, God directs Moses to relieve the thirst of the people and their animals by speaking to a rock “that it may yield its water.” Who knows what they may have looked like? Okay, probably not the situation above, I just had a bit of fun with it.
Instead, Moses was filled with anger and frustration at a whiny group of untrusting people. Even after all they had been through, they were blaming God for their thirst, and asking if Moses had led them to this place to die.
I imagine a large group of kids in the back of a mini-van. This trip has been much longer than they thought. They’ve asked “Are we there yet?” about a hundred times, and now have escalated to the drama of “I’m going to die, I’m so thirsty!!” Mom and dad are in the front, thirsty too, but driving through traffic jams in the middle of midwestern cornfields doesn’t offer many chances to stop. Finally dad slams on the breaks and pulls over. He’s had enough. He turns around to look at his children and the main goal in that moment is to stop the whining. He gets out of the car, and hits a rock. The rock starts gushing water, and the need is met.
Now for a “bigger lens”…
As parents, we want to meet the needs of our children. Just like Moses, we feel the burden of providing for our family. There are ways to do it, that honor God and help turn the hearts of our children toward responding to their ultimate provider in worship. There are other ways to do it, that simply (or luxuriously) put food on the table, but end in a result of our children being amazed at our abilities and filling their thirsts.
It’s difficult…sooo very difficult to spend time talking to rocks. But in the end we recognize our children have a thirst that goes deeper than any material item in this world can quench. More important than causing the water to flow, and meeting their every immediate need – is providing them a path on which they see and experience the love and provision of God, and are shaped to depend on Him.
The question then becomes – Where is the rock God is calling you, as a parent, to talk to?
I realize I’ve not written much in the past few months. I started my masters’ degree this past January, and with the adoption journey being a roller coaster of emotions – it’s hard to know what to say during the few moments I have to say it. I’m certainly still writing, but most of it is in the form of papers at the moment.
One of my recent assignments for a “Spiritual Formation” class was to illustrate a prayer request. So I made a video about our adoption journey. It ended up being tougher for me to even watch than I thought, because it’s a bit emotional. But I’m proud of how it came out. It’s been on YouTube less than 2 days, and already has almost 1,000 views – so I figured I should probably share it with my mom and the few other readers that are still here. 🙂
Thanks so much for your continued prayers and encouragement…