Bringing up Boys
We had a sermon today about bringing up boys. Next Sunday, we'll get one about raising girls.
I have a high interest level in what the pastor..or pretty much anyone.. has to say on both of those topics. Especially because, right now, I'm having a really hard time with my kids.
Not that they're bad kids! ..well.. Emma certainly has her moments.. In fact, it's a good thing that there are some moments of pure beauty--mostly while she's asleep--because otherwise I think I might actually die of frustration. And I'm a pretty patient guy.
No, really, I love my kids, and they're good kids. And I'm pretty sure the problems mostly reside with me. I love them more every day, in fact, which I suppose is why I become more and more aware of this issue. Rather than saying I having a really hard time with my kids, I should probably say that I'm having a really hard time with me. But I'm just saying.. right now, it is very hard.
Mostly, I feel like I am constantly having to think for everyone. .."Pick this up".. "put that away".. "don't scream at your brother for no reason and then expect him to be happy to see you".. "don't shoot toothpaste onto the wall, leave it there, and then when I ask you to please clean it up, rub it into the paint with your shirt-sleeve".. Stuff like that. Honestly, what it may come down to in the end is: If I can't get my own crap together--how on earth am I supposed to take care of everyone else's and make progress on mine at the same time!?
Like I said.. problem with me.
But the constant pressure in this area, wherever it stems from, is really getting to me, and I'm not sure exactly what to do about it. For starters, I'm working on me, rather than trying to get them to suddenly function as 45-year-olds. (which seems unlikely) Ironically, I think that's been my unconscious desire to this point--"Everybody just act like an adult!" Which is sort of a twisted version of teaching and modelling adulthood for your children. My current prayer and focus is that I would enjoy my kids more and control them less. More being Jesus--which, if you've talked to me much over the course of the last year, or even read the blog, you probably know is the one note I keep harping on. Prayers in this area are appreciated, if you'd like to offer them up on my--and their--behalves.
Anyway... now that you know I am not coming into this off any kind of pedestal...
So I listened to the sermon. And it was a pretty good one. Lots of stuff out of Proverbs, and talk about setting boundaries for boys. Teach them the rules of the road so that they won't go driving off into the ditch. Because no, they're not bright enough to keep it between the lines. (this is absolutely true--see "toothpaste" above)
And it wasn't just about controling their self-destructive tendencies, either. It was about being proactive, and teaching them to be proactive. To develop plans. No one gets up in the morning planning to drive off the road, but still, very few people get up in the morning planning not to, either.
That being said..
I didn't like it.
And here's why. (aren't you glad, 2 of 5 pages later, that you asked..?)
Rules of the road. Good.
Proactively planning how to keep the rules. ...not so much.
ooh.. so close!
Could we please stop focusing on what we need to do and not do in order to successfully navigate life? Could we please focus, instead, on being transformed to the likeness of Jesus? Could we please stop keeping the law, making new laws, and generally carrying out a twelve-step plan for a problem-free life?
"Life is tough!.. Marriage is tough..! Work is tough..!" says the pastor... Yes! Yes it is. And do we think that if we learn all the right moves, all the right steps, that we can somehow glide through.. the Astairs and Rogers of Christendom..? No! No! And why not? ..Because this is the axe-dance, people! The axe swings round and round, and we hop the blade over and over.. but you_can't_hop_forever. At some point you are going to time it wrong. Take all the hopping lessons you like, plan out the rhythm and cadence of the song.. heck, just try to avoid axes and music altogether! But in the end, the only things that are going to help you are a healthy perspective on pain and the ability to handle adversity with grace and beauty.
And that's what Jesus gives us. That's what being transformed to the likeness of Christ does for us. This is the beauty of the grace relationship between us and God--that even though we don't deserve it and we are powerless to achieve it on our own, God gives us Jesus.. gives us himself.. and through that sacrifice allows us to choose to hold his hand. And with his help, we do have the ability to be like Jesus. Not perfectly.. we're broken, folks, and we're gonna stay broken for a long, long time. But more and more, we have the ability to function in the same manner as Jesus.. "to be" in the same sense that Jesus did and does.
Through this transformation, through this Christ-like functioning, through this lense of God, we perceive pain. We deal with adversity. And likewise beauty, joy, and truth. This is the hope of the cross. This is it. This is what sets it apart.
We don't have to keep hopping the axe.
I can sit in any mosque or any tabernacle or spirit circle or self-actualization clinic in the world.. and learn to plan not to drive off the road. And that's great.
But I'm going to try and teach my kids to be like Jesus, instead.
I'm sorry if that's not okay with everybody. I'm sorry if that puts me on the outs with the twelve-steppers.. But that's going to be my focus, and my first goal, and if I'm going to sit and hear a sermon about how to raise kids, I think I'd like to hear a little more about this--this being like Jesus thing--because I obviously don't have it nailed down yet. This other stuff is great, it's fine.. but it just isn't good enough for me. And I don't think, really, that it's good enough for God.
I would really like to hear somebody say that, for a change.
I'm just sayin'.