Where Do You Sit?

I’m pretty sure I was in college when I heard for the first time that a woman reaches the apex of her growth and development around age 18. From there, it’s all downhill. It took me 18 years to reach my full growth potential. I’ve spent another 20 + years slipping down the ladder. And yet, in the grand scheme of things, I know that I’m light years ahead of where I was at 18.
For one thing, at age 18, I had a fairly distinct impression of how my life would go. Plans, dreams, goals… they were ahead of me waiting to be conquered. My life since 18 has been fluid at best, flowing in directions and taking me down streams and rapids and still waters most of which I had never envisioned. If I look back at the things I had my heart set on at 18, I discover that I’ve accomplished very few of them. But that doesn’t mean that I would change a thing about them… except for maybe a few choices I’ve made, especially those times I’ve let anger get the better of me.
There are things in my past that I’ve spent lots of time asking God about… lots of whys and when will this make sense and reallys? In a way, I’m eager for that day when I can go running to God’s lap, climb up in His mighty arms, cry on His shoulder, if in fact I’ll feel like crying because the Bible tells us for believers there will be no more tears in Heaven. I am so excited for that day. There are times I even yearn for it. But God hasn’t called me home yet so there must be still more work here on earth. And in a way, I do run to God’s lap. That is how I start my most heart-wrenching prayers, running to His lap in my mind. He is sitting in a large rocking chair throne; I don’t see His face, but His arms are so comforting. At 18, I had little idea how badly I needed that lap. At pushing 40, I’ve discovered I’m never too big to crawl into Abba Father’s lap.
As a parent, there are moments when your child needs to crawl into your lap for a good sob. And there are moments, when you the parent must dry that child’s tears, give him a pat on the back, a Kleenex for a good blow, and a swift kick back into the fray. There are times to say no because what the child is asking for is truly dangerous and there are times to sit back and watch the outcome… try not to let the “I told you so” slip out too fast and furious.
I get a kick out of watching parents of new-toddlers; the way they shadow every move, anticipate every danger, survey every situation and person with apprehension and angst amuses me. I suppose that’s a sick amusement. There are parents who are worse than others; there are those who rearrange whole rooms upon entering them in order to adapt the environment to their child. Looking at it from this side of parenting, having past that stage years ago and having gone through it twice myself, I can roll my eyes in amusement. What cracks me up is the sheer joy with which the child throttles through life, desperate to explore no matter what barriers, parent-made or otherwise, pop up. Try as they might, parents of toddlers eventually learn that they can’t stop the indomitable spirit of their child. And as the months pass and the walking gets better and the child communicates better and the parent begins to feel a little more sure, the parent begins to relax.
My kids are still kids so I can’t completely speak to parenting adult children. But as the parent of an 8, almost 9 year old, there are moments when I have to step back and let her go. She may get hurt and she may not. If I continue to shelter her, I will instill in her a fear of trying, a fear of living. I can try to shape her decisions, talk them through with her, and be there afterwards when the glass is shattered, the knee is scraped, the precious toy marred, but she has to decide for herself. After all, a good parent doesn’t make all of the decisions for his/her child. That would make the relationship a dictatorship.
I’m learning that’s the way God handles us too. From the beginning, He let us make decisions… all the way back in the garden. It’s hard to have a relationship with an echo. But a decision-making being is infinitely more interesting and ultimately in need of more relationship and even more saving. So, we have pain because we make poor decisions; we have consequences for our decisions. Sometimes, we still need to be sent to our rooms… or as in the case of the Biblical Jonah, into the belly of the whale. We learn obedience that way. What do we gain from obedience? More independence, more responsibility… and dare I say an even greater sense of needing parenting.
This is not to say that all pain comes from sin. There are those who like to ask someone in pain what sin they are paying for this time. WRONG! We don’t live in the garden any more. We live in gravity and friction and time. Like machines without the proper oil, we rub, we grind, we chaff and break. Pain is part of existence. Heart break is part of existence. When I read the stories coming out of Africa about the drought in Zambia, about medicines being stolen, about malnutrition and despots who refuse aid to their people out of an inflated sense of pride, about warlords who abduct children, and about rampant disease and despair, I often feel this is more than I can stand, more than God should allow. Shouldn’t He be the parent of the toddler, sweep in and rearrange the world, clean up our environments so that we don’t stumble, get hurt, or have to ever shed a tear? Shouldn’t He get rid of all the bad guys just like the super hero my little boy is so enamored with would? He could, you know. And one day, He will.
But He’s waiting because there are still children, ahem… adults, out there who haven’t decided yet whether to run to Him or to stay back. He won’t force them to come home. They have to decide for themselves. I’ve been talking a lot in my blogs lately about Rick Warren’s definition of compassion – “feeling so deeply for another’s pain that you will do anything to help them.” That’s how God feels about all those fence sitters. He will do anything… did do the ultimate… except demand.
The principal of my daughter’s school ends every morning announcement segment with the following: “Make it a great day, or not. The choice is yours.” I usually chuckle when I hear that, but there is some real wisdom in there. For me, making it a great day is looking beyond myself at how I can help a friend or even a person I’ve never met. It’s thinking about how my actions reverberate not only around my sphere of influence but through time and space through my children, my family, my friends, and through the incidental brushings with the larger world. And when it gets too much, I run to my Abba Father who is waiting on the porch for me. But the choice is yours. Are you running to Him?

Previous Post
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: