Several years ago, a friend of mine had a bit of a mess with one of her kids. The child and a friend committed some minor vandalism at a church (of all places! J) and she found out about it. She told the other kid’s mom, and then she gave the leadership a “heads up” and made her kid confess and offer to make things right. What was interesting is that two of her friends told her to make sure she kept it quiet. “People will talk. They won’t let their kid play with your kid again,” came the advice.
What is unfortunate is that these things are true. I had someone decide they couldn’t play with us many years ago because we allowed our children to play with water guns.
And once, a friend of mine, encouraging me to try her school choice said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could know you were raising your kids with like-minded people?”
Accepting and following Christ might be the one thing we have in common, but if you’ve been a “Christian” longer than 5 minutes, you know that the way the extension of grace actually plays out varies based on where you are at in the journey. So, “like-mindedness” isn’t even really fully possible. Maybe in the big picture, but not in the minutia of the day to day.
I am filled with questions this morning.
Do we want what we have?
Or do we want what we think we “should” have?
Or do we want what others think we should have?
Do we let the “Culture of Consumption” dictate what we “should” have to be filled with joy? It’s a month after Christmas, has the expense been worth it? All the debt accumulated…is anyone any different?
Or do we let the “Christian Culture” dictate what we “should” have? How much pressure are we putting on our family members to live up to some standard that’s not even in the Bible? Do our kids have to be perfectly behaved, and our husband has to do everything Dr. Dobson says he has to do for us to find peace as a wife and mom? I’ve heard “contentment” defined as “wanting what we have.” I know that if we are filled with God, we ARE content. He’s more than enough.
Where are you?
Can we be comfortable allowing others to be where they are … on their own journey with the Father?
Or do we feel pressure for everyone to have a certain “look” and have “perfect behavior?”
Honestly, I’d rather have a real, transparent relationship with the people in my life, based on truth, than have them pretending to be something they are not. I’d rather know one of my kids or my husband thought all this “religion stuff” was hogwash and I knew I was walking alongside an agnostic or an atheist than assuming we had the same core values – it would change how I interacted with them.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say specifically in today’s culture what “leadership” or what “helper” looks like. “Submission,” “love,” and “respect,” also look different in different homes and in different marriages.
I often receive requests for advice – it’s nearly impossible to give, because I’m not married to your husband. There are common themes, yes, and I try to share those here, but sometimes, what looks like “respect” to one man, looks like “contempt” or “mothering” to another.
Designer shoes, bags, glasses, coats, clothes, anything…to purchase “status.” And I weep for women who buy the lie of the culture that they need more but can’t afford it, so they farm out their kids, these precious sweet and innocent souls who, if they could verbalize it, just want time with mom, instead of an expensive pair of shoes. The kids don’t care. And as a culture, even with our hungry in our cities, we are still more wealthy than 95% of the entire world’s civilization. This is what poverty looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lXhZFNkrMw
Dare you to look.
Double dog dare you.
But we don’t know what real poverty is, or don’t want to know (is that you today? …please, no…), so we teach our kids they are special because we bought them something. Why not plant seeds together and see what God does? Why not read to them instead of buying them video games? All the research demonstrates that children need, more than anything else, deep connections with their parents to avoid the traps of adolescence – sexual impurity, eating disorders, drugs and alcohol experimentation, etc.
I hear the most beautiful stories of success, too. Just yesterday, a friend who leads, “The Respect Dare,” at her church, let me know how a woman whose husband had turned away from God and drank too much STOPPED, dumped everything down the sink, confessed his sins to his wife, and became a committed follower of Christ. She will tell you that she was almost completely silent about his rebellious actions out of respect for him, in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Spirit, for nearly two years, and that the Spirit guided her in being gentle, quiet, loving, and kind to a very difficult man. The day he dumped everything down the sink, he said he wanted to be, “Just like her,” and “Have what she had,” and we all stand back amazed.
Dare us today to stop buying the lies of the culture. Take an inventory of how we’re spending our time – is it with our kids? Is it with our husbands? Are we doing things that cause us to interact, and help them “be still and know He is God?” Or do we encourage rushing from thing to thing to thing to thing so they learn to be entertained and busy 100% of the time.
The “wisdom” of the world would have us separate relationally and physically from our families as much as possible.
I guess the question I’m really asking is, “Do we really believe what we say we believe?”
James 3:13-16 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.