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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Failure

 

failure post

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook brought back this picture we had posted back in the fall of 2013. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was an exciting day. We were at the restaurant drawing out plans and next steps for our new adventure called church planting.

When I saw the picture on my Facebook feed, it got me thinking about failure.

Failure. No one likes it. There are always well meaning people who will be quick to say that it’s not failure, it’s a growing opportunity.

Sure. I know. You know.

When it happens it still feels like failure and still needs to be processed for what it seems to be. Whatever it was you were trying to do did not work. You set out for something and didn’t make it. You failed. Technically. Continue reading

It’s ok to Doubt

Church is often the riskiest place to be spiritually honest. – Pete Enns

I don’t think it’s possible to be spiritually honest without acknowledging the reality of doubt and its part in the journey of faith.

I know there are many people in the church who have their doubts and questions about it all. I also know most of these people wouldn’t feel comfortable coming out and being honest about those doubts for fear of being told they lack faith or that they must not be true Christians. If church is your community, where your friends are and where you’ve spent many years, if not all your life, then risking the loss of that in any way is scary. (there are those looking at the church who are interested in coming in but fear rejection because they can’t embrace everything that the church seems to hold so tightly – but that is for another post)

It’s ok to doubt. It’s ok to question. Yes, doing so is very uncomfortable. Being open to the possibility of being wrong or having misunderstood is not a pleasant process. Maybe you’re not wrong but for some reason are questioning and aren’t certain if you are correct. Not knowing what will happen when you come out on the other side of your questions, is a very, very, scary place to be.

Some deal with their doubts by anchoring themselves deeper in their tradition’s accepted beliefs. They may even become fierce advocates of the faith, numbing down their own true sense of everything and putting on a mask of certainty and anger toward anyone who would question their belief or dare to offer any alternative way of thinking.

Others will see their doubts as a lack of maturity or the result of sin in their lives. They will humbly tow the party line and feel guilty about having those second thoughts. They will repent. They will keep going, sincerely pursuing Jesus and hoping their doubts eventually go away.

When it comes to faith, certainty is not necessarily a mark of spiritual maturity. One can trust God without being certain at all.

There are different things that cause people to doubt. For example, doubt can stem from the thought that the foundation for your belief system mostly rests on a book that was written and compiled centuries ago, in a land far away, by people whose understanding of the world was very different than yours. It’s normal to doubt when that very same book, ever since its contents were gathered, has been the object of debate by many sincere individuals trying to figure out what it “truly and clearly” claims. It’s normal to doubt when scientific discoveries and what we learn about how the world works seemingly contradicts the Bible.

If God is all that the Bible makes him out to be, and If, as the Bible claims, God is capable of anything (except of course creating a rock he can’t lift – Isaiah 67:1), then I think it’s safe to assume that he knows who I am and where I am on this journey (Psalm 139). If he is love, his love does not depend on my ability to perfectly understand and master “correct doctrine”. God is not diminished by my inability to understand him. My lack of knowing, my inability to fully comprehend and even my certainties do not change what is true about him. This does not need to make me insecure. Those who are the most ardent, and sometimes arrogant and angry, defenders of “the faith”, can be insecure individuals who find it difficult to handle the idea that something they hold to be true may not be true or that absolute truth about God may not be something we can handle.

If you are someone who has doubts and simply likes to ask questions, to say that “the Bible says it, I believe, that settles it,” doesn’t really settle anything. It’s a bit more complicated than that.

What is one to do? Pack it up and walk away or embrace doubt and let it lead you into a deeper and honest pursuit of truth and the One who claims to be the Truth? Can faith grow amid doubt? Does following Jesus require certainty?

Epistemophobia

EpistemophobiaRemember when Galileo insisted the earth was not at the centre of the universe (a.k.a. Heliocentrism vs Geocentrism)? Maybe you missed it. It was a little while ago after all. What I find interesting about that little piece of history is the pushback Galileo received from the people of his time. Not only did some people within his own field react strongly but so did the Church. Of course, as we know very well today, Galileo was right. At the time people weren’t in much of a hurry to accept this ‘new’ knowledge as true.

The Church, for example, had this to say about it. They concluded that heliocentrism was:

foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture. (Source: Galileo Galilei – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Why is it difficult to accept that something we think is true may not be? Or that something we believe is true may be slightly different than we think? The Church figured that Galileo must be wrong because there are verses in the Bible that seem to suggest the earth is a the centre of the universe and doesn’t move (Psalm 93:1; Psalm 96:10; Psalm 104:5; 1 Chronicles 16:30). How can the earth revolve around the sun? After all, Ecclesiastes 1:5 clearly says that it is the sun that “rises and sets and hurries around to rise again.”

It reminds me of a saying that you’ll sometimes hear in christian settings:

The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.

Did the Bible get it wrong? In Galileo’s day they certainly didn’t think so and Galileo was treated harshly for it. But today, even the most dedicated christian has to admit that on this side of history, knowing what we know about our solar system, those verses are to be understood as expressing the human experience within the limits of the author’s knowledge of the world in his or her day.

So back to the question, why is it so difficult to accept that something we thought was true may not be? It’s unsettling sometimes. Especially in regards to issues that are more fundamental to our particular worldview. If I got that wrong, what else could I be mistaken about?

I was listening to a podcast on my way home from work this week and it got me thinking about this. Trey Pearson, the lead singer of Everyday Sunday, was being interviewed and he said something about knowledge that stood out to me.

That is the interesting thing about knowledge. We are so scared of it sometimes ‘cause it might mean something is different than how we thought it was.

Are you Epistemophobic? Can you remember moments when you realized some fundamental things you had always believed were in fact incorrect? How did you feel? Was it a positive or negative experience?