“How Does Your Faith Influence Your Parenting?”
This is one of the questions I have been wrestling with from our adoption application. Many many thoughts flood my head as I ponder this question. In the big picture, I think it changes the core of my identity as a parent. I am not just trying to raise moral contributors to society or happy people; I’m charged with raising Christ followers and surrendered bond servants to Christ. That’s HUGE! That has to affect everything about being a mom! What does this mean to the nitty-gritty? How does this trickle down into handling misdemeanor misbehavior and foolishness?
I don’t have any big answers, I’m sure! I haven’t read any parenting books so I’m sure my thoughts aren’t even that novel. So please just humor me 🙂 In my spirit I was stirred to ponder the first examples of God’s discipline in Genesis. There were few particular things that stood out to me when looking at the stories of when God confronts Adam & Eve regarding their sins & when He approaches Cain regarding his sin. You know the stories but just so they are handy, here they are again.
“Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” God lays out the consequences for man, woman and snake. They are sent out of the Garden. God provides clothes for them and remains with them.
“Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
In both examples, the Father approaches with a question- a couple of questions actually. He gives his kids the opportunity to tell the truth. He shows up and believes that the best is possible of his imperfect kids. Right off the bat I’m challenged. I wish that I could hear an audio recording of these moments. What was the tone of voice our Heavenly Father used? I can guess that it wasn’t condescending or teasing. I wouldn’t imagine His tone was anger or disappointment. Amazing to ponder. I cannot even pretend to claim that I have succeeded in parenting in His image in this regard. I have asked questions but I think most often my tone has at least one of these elements in it. May I learn to be more like my Father! May I be like Him- ask questions, give my kids the opportunity to do right, believe the best in them and use a respectful, patient, loving and gentle tone. The kind of tone I imagine Adam, Eve and Cain were met with.
That’s where the similarities end! Already! God was consistent both times- its His kids who acted differently. Adam told the truth. He answered the Lord’s questions truthfully (yes He blame shifted, but that’s not the point here :). Cain, however, did not. Cain completely lied to the Lord, thus, I imagine, changing the way the Lord proceeded. Adam and Eve were given their punishments and sent out of the Garden but God was still with them. Cain was sent to be a wanderer and was sent out of the presence of the Lord! It makes me question- and we will never know- but if Cain had been repentant and honest would the Lord’s punishment have been the same? Just a thought I’ve been pondering. I pray that the Lord would grant me His wisdom. That I might discern the appropriate punishment for my child’s heart not just for their actions.
The final piece that I notice is what I alluded to above. Adam and Eve both blame shifted and yet God didn’t even address it! The Lord remained focused on the core issue. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve followed minor misbehavior rabbit trails rather than stay focused on the main event leaving me frustrated and I’m sure frustrating as well.
I have SO much more to learn than I can possibly imagine about parenting- and far more than I probably ever will. Yet, I’m encouraged by all of this! It wonderful that 4 chapters in to the Word of God we already have 2 rich examples of parenting at the hand of our Heavenly Father! Thanks for reading this really long post. And please post any thoughts, different perspectives, questions…I would love to hear it all!!!
Prayers and Blessings to all you mothers out there parenting kids. Its a challenge like NO other! 🙂