Posts Tagged ‘schema’

The Connected Child(ren of God)

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 connected-child-cover-web-198x300instinct 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…

impress.

are you part of a faith web?

When I was almost 11, because of brokenness in our world, we ended up going from part of a large, faith-centered extended family….to becoming an island.  A mother and her 5 children, disconnected from all of the aunts, uncles, and grandparents we’d grown up connected to.  My mom did a great job handling so much of it, and one of the most important ways she did that, was by not trying to do it all herself.

One of the biggest things I remember about growing up from pre-teen to college student, were how many “surrogate” family members we had.  I believe it was part of God’s redemptive plan, to surround us with other adults and older, faithful witnesses who became aunts, uncles, and grandparents to us in the faith.  People who shared stories with us, celebrated life’s big moments, and simply allowed us to see how they were following God from day to day.  Those people spoke Hope into our lives, and prayed for us regularly.spider web in sunlight

The authors of many different books for parents of children and of teenagers, have written about the research done on what sort of things lead to a life-long faith.  It’s not an incredible youth group, huge concerts, or an amazing preacher.   It’s not buying them a great study Bible, or after-school Jesus clubs, or even having really really Jesus-like friends.  It’s having several close relationships with older, God-seeking adults.

It’s a beautiful thing if those adults can be actual family members.  To be able to sit in the same pew as grandma and grandpa, and sing songs together.  To clean up streets, or serve the homeless with their aunts.  To climb on their uncles lap during the message, and give a picture they colored in Sunday School.  To travel somewhere with those they share life with, and serve the “Least of These” who live there.  To have lunch together, talking about the stories of faith – including the current stories God is writing through their life as a family.

But – to encourage you no matter your family situation…the blood of Jesus is more powerfully connective than any other.  As sons and daughters of Abraham (Galatians 3:29), we are connected to a larger web of family than we’ll ever realize in this life.  No matter what your age or life situation, you can (and are called to!) reach out to the children of your congregation and connect.  This is also a great regular reminder of accountability – younger people are looking up to you!   If you’re a parent, you can (and are called to!) reach out to other generations of those seeking God, and connect your children in meaningful relationships.

It may even be worth taking out a sheet of paper, drawing a spider web, and putting the names of all the people your children are in meaningful relationships with who are living out the faith you’re wanting to pass on to them.  Are there many names, besides yours and their Sunday School teachers?  Is it a diverse group of names, coming from different generations, and different walks of life?  Doing this may make you want to reach out purposefully, and invite someone to be a more active part of your child’s faith web.  Heck, you may even want to start with sending them a link to this blog-post…I’m okay being an ice-breaker for such an important conversation/invitation. 🙂

I also just realized this post could be a bit of a “Debbie-Downer” to any family members who are long-distance from relatives they’d love to be in their “faith-web”.  I want to remind you that distance does not negate such a thing happening.  Writing letters, chatting online, and being sure that when you are near – you share in experiences that point to Jesus.  These, and so many more ways exist to help overcome any physical distance in a faith web connecting life-long relationships in meaningful and important ways.

May God be with us, as we humbly accept His calling for us to pass all of this on to the generations following us…(Deuteronomy 6)

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