Walking around at a local flea market I stumbled across a book I have been wanting to purchase. Sacred Parenting by Gary L. Thomas. I read one of his other books, Sacred Marriage awhile back. This author really makes me think.
As I read the first chapter, I asked Daniel, "Why did we decide to have children?" We laughed because we weren't really trying to have a child when Alison came around so Daniel's reply was, "We didn't, God put all of that in motion!" So why did we have another child?? As I read this first chapter, Gary L. Thomas says as God's people he feels having children is not about us but all about Him. He goes on to say, "We are called to bear and raise children for the glory of God." Now if you believe that statement, then it really makes a difference when parenting gets difficult.
The context of II Corinthians 7:1 isn't parenting, but Thomas thinks it is helpful in parenting.
"Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."
Thomas continues, "Christian parenting is truly a sacred journey. It invites us parents to purify ourselves, to use the process of raising kids to perfect holiness, and to do this consistently, every day, out of reverence for God. If we enter it armed with this understanding, each segment will gain new meaning and purpose -- even the difficult ones."
You may ask yourself why do you do all that you do for your child? If the answer is just for the joy or for the proud moments in our children's lives then that will not last for long. Another Thomas quote that I pondered and talked with Daniel about was this...."to pin our hope and joy on the response of a sinner (our children)in his or her toddler years or teen years is to beg for disillusionment and to risk waking up in despair." We must have a higher calling than our own hope or joy, it must be out of reverence for God. Good read and that was just the first chapter.
Chapter 2 - The Hardest Hurt of All..."Sunshine without rain is the recipe for a desert."
Raising children teaches so much. We build character and we hit serving dead in the face. Letting our children struggle through challenges forms and matures them. It is just so hard, though, to watch. Many times we step ahead and fix it and our children lose out on the experience God has meant to shape them for the future He has planned for them. We make the journey harder when we are chasing our tail trying to make it easier. A good question for us to ask is what do we want for our children as they grow up -- comfort or character. This book is helping me see we must choose service and character over the pain-free life. Do you really think we are helping our children when we coddle them and let them avoid hard experiences? It has been so very hard for Daniel and I to watch the girls struggle with things, but we have mentors that have helped us, encouraged us to let them walk through disappointments. I have never wanted my immaturity to handicap them, although I know I have struggled with this. God has been very merciful to them and us!! I do believe that God sees His kingdom more important than our children's personal comfort. The author encourages you to ask your children as they grow, "What do you think your daddy and mommy feel most passionate about?" They serve as our heart's mirror in a way, Gary Thomas suggests. As we become parents it is interesting to ask what would God do as a parent in this situation? God let His Son suffer because there was a bigger picture. There are some values that are more important than our happiness and comfort.
At the end of chapter 2, the author says, "Sacred parenting calls me to accept the hardest hurt of all -- for the sake of God's kingdom and for the sake of our children's own development. I need to allow my kids to face challenges, failure, rejection and pain, and then teach them to use these seemingly negative events to fuel their sense of mission and to foster their dependence on God."
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