Musings from the Gilly Pad

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Created with the "I wants"

I really love the payback of becoming a parent.  It's truly rewarding to see my greatest flaws smacking me right dab in the face.  My parents always told me, "Leigh, you just have the I wants!  I want this, I want that!  Want, want, want."  The torch has now been passed.  It's my turn to deal with my own little genetically wounded reproductions!  Eh, it's not always so bad.  I think it may be easier, though, if we live with at least a dose of reality and admit we're all flawed.  It is what it is.   

Ben:  "What's that list over there?"

Me:   "It's Laurian's list of songs on her ipod.  She just wrote them in a fancy font on the computer and decided to tape it on that piece of furniture."

Ben:  "Oh.  Because I thought it was a list of things she wanted, and I was like, I've been wanting a lot of things for a long time now, and if she gets those things ,well that's not gonna' be fair."

Me:   "Nope.  It's just her list of songs that she already has on her ipod."

Ben:  "Man...I want a lot of things.  I just wish, like,  I just wish I could have all the things I wanted and like, life would be sooooo easy."

Me:  "Not necessarily, Ben.  Getting everything you want could actually be really harmful.  It's not realistic and life doesn't work that way.  We don't get everything we want, and life isn't always easy.  We have to learn to deal with it.  It is what it is."

Ben:  "But, I mean, like, if I had everything I wanted I wouldn't want anything else...and then I'd stop bugging you."

Me:  "Here's the deal, Ben.  God created us to need and to want.   He wants us to desire what is ultimately good for us all.  And Ben, what He really wants is for us to realize our need for Him and for us to want Him most of all."

Ben:  "Ooooohhhyyyeahhhhh.  I kinda' forgot about that."

"The Lord is my portion", says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:24

"Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee."
St. Augustine of Hippo

"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Christ."
Blaise Pascal, French Mathematician, Philosopher, Physicist

Friday, October 21, 2011

Parenting without Perfection, nugget #1

I've read a few books lately that have really challenged me to examine a lot of things about my poor little ol' self.  I'll only mention one today.  If you're like me, you may think you should bypass this one because upon seeing the title, you know you've already got it licked.  It's Parenting without Perfection by David John Seel, Jr.  I know, you see it and say to yourself, "Check. I've got that one mastered." 
Parenting without Perfection is not just for parents, either!  You know what especially vexes me, though?   The men (fathers) who will overlook this book, simply because the word "parenting" is in the title. It's as if they think they have nothing to learn or that parenting really doesn't concern them in a personal way.  It's as if "parenting" is something they don't partake in, as if it's "knitting" or something.  (you know what I mean, don't be so persnickety.)  Certainly parenting is not perceived as a primary job!  Whoa!  If so, that would require it having a sense of value, and nothing is valuable without a bottom line number, right?  UGH.  You sense my disgust, and I have many more thoughts but will spare you except for this one question.  What is the role of a spiritual leader, if not to be one worthy of respect and honor through his/her humility, service, and grace toward others...especially his/her own children?  I'm thinking that "parenting" needs to be added to a few "to do" lists. 

This book is not a cure for our kids' misbehavior, nor does it give us a million steps to follow or rules to impose in order that our underlings "obey without delay."  (That my friends, is a ferr rreeyul mantra to some whacks, and for another day, as well.  Oh, for those who don't live in the American south...that strange word just mentioned is just southern red-neck for "for real.")  Forgive me, I'm digressing.  This book doesn't tell us how to parent.  Instead of dictating how, it asks us to reflect on what a parent is, and why we parent.  It challenges us to examine what we believe as parents, and if we truly live within our beliefs.  According to Seel, our responsibility in parenting is more about a mirror than a rod.  It's more about what our lives reflect than their outward behavior!  There are so many nuggets in this book, but a fundamental theme throughout is how we should engage in the world of our kids.  We're challenged to get uncomfortable and really learn the culture of our kids' world.  Getting involved physically and mentally is fundamental when connecting with our kids emotionally and spiritually.  We need to know our kids, and maybe even more importantly, we need to know who we are & whose we are, before we're able to influence our children in any way at all.  

I love Genesis and the story of creation.  It's sort of a big deal!  The beginning of any story is essential to understanding the main idea, right?  When we see the Bible for what it really is - one big story with many chapters - then we're able to see more clearly the redemptive story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation.  Understanding how to read the story brought the reality of the story in my life.  We're all part of that ongoing story!  From the beginning we learn a tad bit about why God made, oh, the cosmos!  We learn why and how God made us!  Being made in the image of God may have become so familiar to you that it's really quite unfamiliar.  We tend to forget the magnitude of what it really means to be created in the image of our Holy Father.  We forget to see characteristics of Him in others, and we neglect to maintain and nurture those within us, don't we?  I do.  We're creatures made in his likeness, so it's a pretty good idea to know a little about the One who created us.  It's our birthright!  In Parenting without Perfection, Seel points out what we really should already know (if we're realistic and know ourselves at all), but sometimes we need someone to put it in print in order to bring it to our attention.  Sometimes we have spiritual amnesia.  A nugget to ponder from this book-

The possibility of rebellion is the mark of being made in the image of God.  Seel writes, "As parents, we are stewards of young people who bear the image of God and whose lives will finally be directed by the choices they make before their Creator."  He quotes philosopher Dallas Willard in his book, In Search of Guidance, "God has paid an awful price to arrange for human self-determination.  He obviously places great value on it.  It is, after all, the only way He can get the kind of personal beings He desires for His eternal purposes."

Are we humbled by our own rebellion as much as we acknowledge our kids' mistakes?  Are we really shocked when our kids behavior doesn't meet our standards?  What framework shapes the standards we set for them, and do our kids see us live within those standards, as well?  I think I need to dust off my mirror and get on my knees.