Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The means to the end...or is it all about the means?

It hit me yesterday...that I think that...I get what Ecclesiastes is all about now...

Every Christian parent will at some point in time refer to their new baby as a "blessing" but yet…if you watch their fruits…every minute of their life is all about "how to survive this newborn". How to survive and "get enough sleep" and how to "get time away from the baby" and so forth…Everything about the parent's life with the baby speaks the truth of how they see this newcomer in their life no matter what the birth announcement says: the baby is a curse.

Sure, most parents would argue that, insist that's not true, but watch them. Listen to them. When parents talk about their children or post stuff on fb…it's all about surviving their infancy until they will "sleep all night" and then how to handle the "terrible twos" and then how to get them off to school <phew> and finally have time for yourself! Then, "Oh God how to survive the teenage years". Then, finally you get that kid outta' the house at age 18! <phew!>

Parents don't enjoy their little ones as their interactions with them as little ones is all about controlling their behavior with schedules, threats and pain partly in order to retain the pleasures we are afraid of sacrificing for the child and partly because we believe we "must" do these things in order to "raise a godly child".

And, I believe that parents end up missing the true pleasure that is the "point" of parenting. And, the reason we were all created. (It's why most Christians can't even answer the question as to why God created mankind)

In Ecclesiastes…the writer who was the world's biggest wise guy…or I mean…the world's wisest man…goes on and on to tell of all the amazing, awesome, wondrous things he's done with his life…how many college degrees he has…and how much he's accomplished with his career…and yet…he concludes that it's all for nothing.

He says twice, "I know that there is nothing better than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor -- it is a the gift of God."

He also says, "So I commended for pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun."

And, he says, "Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeing life which He has given to you jeer the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun."

And, again, he says, "Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And, follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting."

I believe if you were to take a survey of Christian parents and ask them what is their point with having kids…they would tell you something like that their point is to "raise up godly kids for Jesus" or "to train up my kids in the way they should go". It occurred to me that parents' whole point in parenting seems to be focused on the future. But, humans, although we can imagine the future and can remember the past we LIVE in the now. And, most parents do not live in the "now" with their kids…but they live out of their past experiences (how their parents raised them) and they live in the future (getting the kids to adulthood) and the "now" gets missed and even ruined.

What do I mean?

If the whole law and the prophets hang on these two things: Love the Lord your God with all your heart...and your neighbor as yourself"... That is "it". I mean...that's just "it". The "end". Like...

Imagine a parent who loves the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul…and loves their child…their neighbor…as themselves? When I am hungry…I seek food. When I am tired…I sleep. When I am lonely…I seek out friends. When I am scared…I reach out for safety…When I am sad…I seek comfort. That's how I love myself. That's how almost all people love themselves. Yet, for some reason you find it especially in Christian parenting that they feel that when their child has all these needs/desires that the best thing to do for the child is to deny them those things…or to make them wait for those things.

God IS love. Loving God and loving our kids is "it". It is the fulfillment of everything. It's the end.

But, yet, people have the wrong idea of what love is…and that has effected everything about life, including parenting. Love is all those things in 1 Corinthians...and so because of those qualities, if it is about choosing between "you and what's good for you" and my "pleasure"...yes! Love will lead me to sacrifice…but love never should lead us to hurt others…to neglect their needs…to ignore their cries.

"He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered." Prov. 21:13

And, while I'm thinking of it...Tina Turner was just so wrong! "What's love got to do with it?" EVERYTHING. Love is what it's all about!

OK…so I'd wanna ask the question of parents who believe this is their whole point with their kids…you're raising and training up your kids to be godly…that sounds great…but what for? Why raise them to be godly? Sure, to "go to heaven" but…really why train them up that way? Well, if they had to think about it it would probably be, "So they can raise their kids to be godly"...and so on and so on...and that sort of totally misses the point.

When do we reach the goal of the point of parenting? When our kids turn 18? When our kids die? When do we accomplish this goal of "raising/training them up godly?" 

Loving our kids is not a "means to an end"…it IS the end. It IS the reason for having kids. TO love them…now.


Like...what I'm rambling about is...that the point of parenting is not to be "working and sacrificing" for some "future goal"...with the kids. The reason we are parents is for "right now". To enjoy our kids "right now".

"Children are a gift of the Lord...The fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 127

It doesn't say children are a job...or even a mission field...or a responsibility...
It says they're a reward and a gift...

The joy of parenting is in the relationship that starts as soon as we know we're pregnant…The joy and blessing of parenting is the smell, feel, sound of your newborn…the joy and blessing for the woman is the God-designed reward system in her brain and her heart that she feels when she has physical contact with her baby…when she falls asleep next to her baby…when she awakens next to her baby…The joy is in every day in the ongoing relationship with the baby…every bit of it is a joy…and only with a few unhappy times mixed in. That's the truth.

For parenting to have turned into this "burden" that people have to be "prepared for"…is such a  sad twisting. Who should need to be "prepared to enter into a loving relationship"? Only those, maybe, who do not understand what love is. Like Tina Turner…And, look where this belief has led? How many millions of babies have been sucked alive outta' their mother's wombs because those mothers didn't feel they were "ready" to be a mother?

Modern parents…especially Christians ones…end up sacrificing all the joys on the path for some goal of getting kids to the 18 year old finish line. But, getting our kids from 0-18 is not like driving from Vancouver Island to Florida. Something to dread and be bored in and need to "survive" with distractions like books on CD and DVD's…No! The experience of going from 0-18 with our children should reflect the relationship that God has with us when we become a Christian.

It is really no wonder the church is in the state that it is in…when we have human parents feeling cursed and burdened and robbed of pleasure by their newborn babies…striving for "alone time" away from the baby. Is that how God feels about us? It does explain why so many Christians feel this strong NEED to be "in ministry". They cannot simply rest in the fact that they are God's child. They can't imagine that God simply "enjoys" them. That God simply "had them" just to enjoy them.

Human parents are always working toward training our kids to perform. To behave perfectly. To poop on the potty young and on schedule. To sleep in a place/way pleasing to the parent. To not talk back or express themselves in ways displeasing to the parent. To then perform in school and get good grades so we can go on to college and prove ourselves worthy of our parents college money and get good grades there and get a good job and provide well for our own families. It's all about "what we DO for our parents". And, so…you have Christians believing that unless they are working, sacrificing, and serving for God that they are not worthy. And, sadly, a Christian parent who believes this way about God and themselves…will then treat their own children in the same way so as to pass on this feeling/belief to the next generation…

So, they miss the joy of waking to the smell of a newborn's breath and the scroochings of their tiny little body as they awaken because they're convinced they have to "teach that baby independence for its future" somehow…They miss the incredible joy of being there with the child and hearing their little hearts figure things out…they miss working through their child's emotional development as they grow because the parent is only concerned with identifying rebellion and punishing for it to teach that child "discipline"…

It could be one reason that people often mention that they enjoy their grandkids so much more…because grandparents are focused on enjoying their grandkids and the "raising the kids" is up to the parents.

For most parents…they get to the end…and off their kids go into the world and into their own life with their long book full of stories that aren't so joyful they can share with their Christian peers about their childhood. How many people do you know who at age 18 would say their parents are their best friends? Most Christian parents have missed the mark. They have striven to "raise up godly kids" but have instead raised up kids who know how to act…but have no relationship with their parents. They have no good memories of childhood. They don't miss being at home with their parents. They can't wait to get away from their parents. And, the whole growing-up years are just a stressful memory.

If children are a blessing, as God says, and yet in your life all you feel like is that the kids are stressing you out, then something is wrong with the way you're looking at them. Something is wrong with what you think that relationship is supposed to look like. Your children should be your greatest source of joy, happiness, fulfillment, and relaxation. They should not be something you feel the need to get AWAY from but something you feel the need to get back to whenever you're away from them.

Even working and working to "build a future" for your kids while really all they want is you to be home..."now"...The relationship is "now"...

There is a very popular child-raising book which tells you that friendship (which the author calls a "buddy" which is simply a synonym for friend) with your child will harm your child...turn them into a self-centered egomaniac but at the same time the author claims that friendship with your child is something to look forward in the future (the author makes many such contradictory statements).

And, sadly, many have been led astray by this destructive teaching...

Friendship is all about mutual love and respect...about enjoying time spent together every day...and that is what having kids is all about...

In my own life...I have done many things and felt many ways thru my years with having my 8 children...One thing that I did manage to "get right" amidst a plethora of "wrong" stuff is...I have known a lot of people who have fussed at me about why I don't like "going out". I am the one most likely to be the "girl's night out party pooper". For a long time I thought that meant there was "something wrong" with me. But, truth is that I don't find time AWAY from my children to be more pleasurable than being with my kids. I love my friends, and value that time, but, nothing can compare with the "now" with my children…and that's not something "wrong"...

"Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And, follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know God will bring you to judgment for all these things. So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting."



(The book I was referring to above is Gary Ezzo's, "On Becoming Babywise" and should come with a warning lable...all things which are harmful to humans do...and this book is one sure-fire way to ruin your child...avoid it at all costs...getting your kid to sleep 8 hours straight is not worth the sacrifice of your relationship and your child's mental health for the rest of their life...)
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