Thursday, February 21, 2013

Princes and Princesses on the Inside

So, I was just watching, "La Rosa de Guadeloupe" again...and of course it got me thinking... 

La Rosa de Guadeloupe is a Spanish soap, made in Mexico, that I watch to help me learn better Spanish. It's a 1 hour program that has a start-to-finish complete story each day's actually a Catholic show. I'm not Catholic, but, I sure appreciate the stories as each one has a "moral" it's trying to teach. (Sometimes the crazy show even brings tears to my eyes, but, don't tell anyone!)

Yesterday's program was about having beauty on the inside...and of made me think of parenting...

In the program, a girl who was known as, Julie the horrendous! was an "ugly nerd" of a girl who'd fallen in love with a light-haired, blue-eyed popular guy who had a pretty popular girlfriend. He got his license and while fumbling with his cell phone had an accident in his car which left him in a coma.

The popular pretty girlfriend showed up and saw him lying in his hospital bed and made a remark to herself that, "she didn't want to see this." and left. Never to return to his bedside.

The nerdy girl showed up and was caught stroking his face by the mom and the mom assumed that she was the girlfriend. The nerdy girl let her think that and returned to the hospital to read to, groom, and massage the feet of the boy she loved every day.

When the boy awoke he was blind.

By the end of the story, the whole family knows what's happened with the nerdy girl and the popular girlfriend. The boy rejects his pretty popular girlfriend for her lack of anything inside, and tells the nerdy girl that she's the most beautiful girl he's ever known.

<dreamy sigh>

This is what we all know and yearn for, isn't it? For someone to love us for who we are on the inside? Yet, we women rarely encourage ourselves with this because all we see are the outsides.

1 Peter 3:3-4
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

So, it made me wonder about how do we encourage this inner beauty in our children? How do we encourage our daughters, especially, to see this inner beauty in themselves first and foremost rather than their external bodies...and how do we encourage our sons to see it as well?

We moms do focus at some point every day on grooming with our daughters and dressing them up, but how do we fill them with that imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious on the sight of God? How do we "dress our daughters up" on the inside so that God feels that same excitement we feel when we see our daughter all dressed up smiling happily in her princess dresses?

A lot of "religious" parents and parenting books actually focus on "breaking the child's will." They feel that this is the way to raise up a child who is good on the inside. But, the verse doesn't say, "a submissive and passive spirit." It says, "gentle and quiet."

Gentleness and quietness are choices. If gentleness is a precious quality to God it must be so only because the person has a choice to be rough. Gentleness is a powerful choice that a person who can be rough makes out of empathy and love for the person with whom they are relating, and it is, therefore, precious in the sight of God.

A child whose will has been broken has no choice but to be passive and submissive, which robs them of all "virtue" in their choices. And, no matter how complacent someone with a broken will is, they are not doing it out of selfLESSness (which is a choice) but out of selfISHness because it is a self-defensive mode or it's simply a programmed reaction to a situation.

Many "religious" people focus on a few verses in their child rearing which focus on judgment and punishment and demand certain behaviors from their children, but if this inner quality of gentleness and quietness (peace) is precious to God...and if He's said that causing a child to stumble makes Him so mad you'd be better off tied to a rock and tossed into the ocean and drowned! then there certainly must be some significant child-rearing advice in the Bible beyond just a few verses that imply we're to whack our kids, wouldn't you think? Especially since what's in the heart can't be forced. Wouldn't there therefore be verses teaching us how to get to the child's heart?

The 1 Peter verse also tells us something important about focusing on the externals...

"Your adornment must not be merely external..."

"Merely", btw, is in italics in the Bible version that I am quoting. This means that that word doesn't appear in the original text. It was likely added so as to not make it look like God was suggesting we all go around looking slovenly. ;) But, the verse really says, "your adornment must not be external"

We all recognize that we aren't to focus on our externals to make us OK with God. The Pharisees were called, "whitewashed tombs" by Jesus for their external focus.

We aren't "saved by works but by grace."

In Isaiah it calls our good works, "filthy rags."

We parents need to realize that focusing on our children's behaviors is focusing on those external adornments. It's washing the outside of the cup. It's trying to wring out those filthy rags.

But again! How do we focus on the internal?
How do we cultivate an inside that is "precious in the sight of God" in our children?

So, what advice IS in the Bible to parents? So many, "oldies but goodies" that we all know get overlooked in parenting because they don't specifically say, "Parents do this with your children..."

"It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance."
"Judge not."
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

And, if we remember that God is our Father...and we are His children...these verses really tell us how to treat not only our neighbor but our children...

Ephesians 5:1-3
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (the Lord's discipline doesn't make a child angry. Does your discipline make your children angry? If so, it's not God's way...)

Colossians 3:21
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

John 3:17
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 13:34
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

1 Peter 2:21+
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats (if you guys don't stop it I'm going to punish you!!!), but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross (He didn't punish us), so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (Parents think kids must "suffer consequences" to learn...but when Jesus suffered through our misdeeds and poor choices we were healed of them...we were not healed of our sin by being punished for them!!!) For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

John 13:15

For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.

This is how God works to get to our hearts to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in His sight. This is how He endures our "naughty behavior" and the fruit He gets. This is how God "brushes our hair" on the inside..."dresses us up" on the inside...and makes us look like princes and princesses on the inside... 

You can either cling to a few verses in Proverbs and judge and hit your children and groom them on the outside only by focusing on the filthy rags...or you can follow Jesus' example and go therefore and make disciples of your children. Jesus said we could be known by our fruits...

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