What I Have Learned from Parenting

IMG_4050Brian Tate, Edgewood Campus Pastor

“I hope that one day you have a child just like you!” 

Famous words from every parent…everywhere! 

Those words are usually said during negative situations, where the parent is frustrated with the child. Where the child has done something to test the patience of the parent. Where the parent’s beliefs are challenged by the child’s actions or beliefs. Where obedience has been turned upside down to disobedience. And while reflecting on those moments of when I have said those words…I’ve realized that I have learned some things through parenting. But I don’t want to just leave things that I have learned, but how I believe they apply to our spiritual lives. 

Now in no way am I equating my love and actions towards my kids as God’s love and actions towards me. And in no way am I equating myself to God. But is it possible that the way I am learning to love my children a glimpse of the way God loves me? 

  1. There is nothing (and I truly mean nothing) that my children could do that would change my love for them. There are a lot of things and ideas in this world that I do not agree with. In fact, there are a lot of things that my kids do already that I do not agree with (placing the new toilet paper roll on top of the dispenser comes immediately to mind.) There are a lot of things in this world that cause me anger, tremendous anger (human trafficking). I can’t imagine being the Creator and watching my creation be so evil, and still choosing to love them. I want to take that type of love and apply it the best way I know how to the way I love my children. 
  2. It’s never easy cleaning up their mess. It takes my time. It takes my energy. It takes my money. It takes my spouse. It takes so much to clean up after each and every one of them. And as soon as I get things back to normal, there’s another mess from the same child! So I wonder, what does it take to clean up our messes? Our problems? Our sin patterns that we so easily return to after God helps clean them up? It takes God, His time, His energy, His resources, His Son.
  3. Their logic is fallible in most cases. I can only hear “the sky is _______ color” so many times before just walking off and letting think that they are right. Does that make them right? No…but if they are going to continue to believe in their own logic, then they may need to experience the sweet taste of failure. Again, that has me wondering how often God has to do that with us. How often does He allow us to believe in our logic  just because we won’t give in to His?
  4. Growing hurts. Whether we are talking physical or mental, growing hurts. There were many nights that, as a parent, I just can’t do anything for a child that is experiencing growing pains physically. There’s also many nights that I can’t calm an over-emotional child because they just don’t understand how to get an answer to a math problem. All growth causes pain. There are times that our spiritual growth will cause us pain and God will not do anything with that pain, because that pain is what brings growth, and He knows that.
  5. They believe everything they have is their’s. It’s not the family’s. It’s not their sibling’s. It’s definitely not mine! They did absolutely nothing for their things. We, as their parents, furnished their bedroom. We supplied their clothing. We provided them food. We made Christmas happen. We even gave them their birthday, their life, their name. And yet somehow it’s all their’s? What selfish little beings. Oh wait…(I’ll let you finish that sentence). 
  6. My child longs to relate to me, spend time with me, talk to me. My child is disappointed when I don’t spend time with them. As a parent, I want to provide that for them. But then I have to ask: Do I long to relate to God? Do I long to spend time with Him? Do I long to talk to Him? He is more than willing to provide time for a relationship to form…but do I? Do I get caught up in my own world that I forget to long after a relationship with God?
  7. Obedience. It’s what I desire for every child to do willingly. Obedience is the willing submission to do what has been commanded without challenge, excuse, or delay. How I long for the day that every one of my children will do exactly what I ask without challenge, excuse or delay. Just once. Every single one of them. On that day, I will feel so accomplished as a parent. But every child has a problem, their children of self-pleasure. Every time I ask there will most likely be one of those three things happen. But isn’t that exactly what God desires from us? Obedience. “Obedience is the willing submission of my heart to God that causes me to do what God has commanded without challenge, excuse, or delay.” Thanks Paul Tripp. 

As I think about the things I have said, the things I have done, or the things I have learned…the one thing that I ponder upon is: Have I ever said “I hope that one day you have a child just like you!” for a positive reason? Have I given my children hope? Have I given my children encouragement? 

Have I pointed out the good things that they have done and say “I hope that one day you have a child just like you!?”

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