How Children Raise Parents

How Children Raise ParentsRaising kids is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’ve had to do some difficult things so far in my life and I continue facing various challenges along the way. Raising kids tops the list of most challenging. I’ve been in the business for 15.5 years now. Enough I’d say to have gained some insight. Yet, there are still days when I feel at a loss, clueless, and frustrated with my inability to finally wrap my mind around it and figure out the perfect way to raise ‘em right! Regardless, at the end of every day I am thankful for them as they are and for the opportunity to love them and, with what I have, shape and guide them.

Today, as I was reminding them of some ground rules around iPhone use, it got me thinking about a book I read a while back. It stood out to me back then because of its title, How Children Raise Parents: The Art of Listening to Your Family.

Dan Allender is one of my favourite authors. Every one of his books I’ve read has been a deep and refreshing dive into my heart, mind and soul. This one was no exception. I’m going to take another look at it now that my kids are in their teens. Something tells me I’ll understand it much more now.

Here are a few quotes from the book that I found jotted down in an old word document. Enjoy!

One problem is that we are too child driven.  We spend too much money and time on child-oriented things that compete with the simple and profound appreciation we should feel for our child.  In turn, the money and time we spend dragging kids to tennis tournaments, music lessons, debate clubs, and a legion of other devilish opportunities fuels a child’s sense of entitlement and a parent’s feeling that his child is an excessive drain on energy, time, and money.  This sense leads to the attitude, “my kid owes me big-time”.

There has never been an era when parents have spent more time, money, and energy on pleasing their children.  And there has never been an era when children, in return, have shown their parents less respect, intimacy, and honour.

I know I must suffer, struggle, grow, and sometimes fail to mature. But when this reality shows itself to be just as true for my children, I can barely endure it.

Growing up, as opposed to merely growing old, compels us to embrace both joy and sorrow. To mature we must learn to suffer and not yield or turn hard. To mature we must also learn to engage joy and not demand that it hang around, nor fabricate a counterfeit when it departs. There are many other ways to maturity, perhaps, but they all dance to the music of sorrow and joy.

Becoming great parents is a learning process – it does not involve our following a list or rules.

We must let go of the myth that right influence guarantees the desired results, and we must discard our unswerving faith in the power of right principles to guarantee success.

Thank God for your children because they are the ones who grow you up into spiritual maturity.  Far more than being concerned about how to correct, or convert, or counsel your children, thank God for what your children are teaching you.  To the degree that your heart is overwhelmed with gratitude for your children, they will gain the core education they most need – the knowledge that they are truly loved, treasured, and delighted in.  Only a genuinely thankful parent can invest in his or her children the conviction that they are the focus of unconditional love.

What do you think? Does anything stand out to you?

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I Know Nothing of Calvary Love

I know. It’s harsh.

Most of us appreciate a good inspirational quote now and then. We share them on our Facebook page or via our Twitter feed. I do it. It might be an encouraging or thought provoking quote from a book we’re reading or something we heard. Christians really like to quote dead missionaries and theologians. Many of these quotes are wonderful and are worth noting and pondering.

But.

Many of them, while they seem nice at first glance, are rather concerning and problematic. Interestingly enough, while the person posting them usually means well and intends the quote to be a gospel affirming quote (in the Christian context), they are not always that great. Of course, much of this depends one’s definition of “gospel affirming”.

Here is an example of a quote that came up on my Facebook feed today. Have a look at it, then I’ll tell you what I think about it.

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love. – Amy Carmichael

First things first. I have no idea of the context in which this quote was originally said or written. It could be that my reaction would be tempered if I had the full context. But I don’t and no one who reads the quote does either. All we have is the quote as it stands.

I think it is bad. Actually, to be honest, I think it is a damaging quote. I can see the potential, but stated the way it is – Yuck.

Now, if we could point the finger at someone who is constantly characterized by everything mentioned in the quote I guess someone could argue that this person has not yet tasted Calvary love (which, for the record, means Jesus’ love shown in what he said, did, and, ultimately, his death on the cross).

However, the quote seems to suggest that any one of those traits would mean an absolute lack of knowing Calvary love. Nothing. Nada. Rien du tout.

So then, I know nothing of Calvary love.

You see, there are times when the praise of others elates me.

There are times when the blame of others depresses me.

There are times when I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself.

There are times when I love to be loved more than I love to love.

There are also times when I love to be served more than I love to serve.

I get it. It is quite freeing to be able to live daily without feeling the need for the praise of others or feeling depressed when blamed or criticized.

It is also freeing to love for love sake and not expecting something in return.

And yes, there is also great joy to be found in serving others.

Why then does the quote rub me the wrong way?

It’s the end of the quote that ruins it for me. To have issues with those things means to “know nothing of Calvary love.

You know nothing Jon Snow

(image found at giphy.com)

N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

Really? Is that really true? Nothing? Not even a little something? No baby steps? No figuring things out? No growing? Nope. Nothing.

If being perfect is required so that it can be said of us that we “know Calvary love” then we’re all pretty much screwed.

(Side note – what does it even mean here to “know” Calvary love? Does it mean having a perfect understanding of it? Who can even claim that!)

The potential. I think the quote has potential if only it had been worded a bit differently.

Something like:

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, there is freedom in Calvary love.

Or maybe:

When the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; when I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; when I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, Calvary love compels me to find my identity and rest in Jesus.

Or:

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, it is a reminder of how much I still need to know and grow in my understanding of the depth of Calvary love.

But to say that one knows nothing! Such a statement is over the top and, not to mention, not really gospel affirming.

How about you? What do you think about the quote? Do you have some insight that might help us here? Have you ever come across a quote that somehow just didn’t sound quite right?