Well, I call it strange, but I suppose it isn’t, really.
I mean, it was a part of God’s plan, from pre-beginning, I imagine, and just a short 28 verses into the Bible, and we find God creating man, and tell him to “…Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…”. And so, we have.
But, when you think of it, it’s an odd world.
I suppose this is on my mind, today, because this weekend–starting tomorrow–both of my smalls have birthdays. OK, I guess, they are my not-so-smalls, now. My baby girl turns 16 tomorrow, my boy turns 17 on Sunday.
It will be a weekend full of celebrating.
Goodness, I love my crew. They are amazing.
But, goodness, even with how amazing they are (truly, they are. I am not just saying that), parenting is odd. And hard.
I fumble my way through this thing called parenting. I imagine all parents feel that way, at one time or another. But sometimes I feel it acutely. I look at friends around me, such as my sweet friend who, after having 5 amazing kids, has adopted not only one, but two sets of twins. I watch her–and try to learn; she parents which such grace and patience and skill. I want to be like that. And, although I know she would beg to differ, and claim that she, too, finds parenting to be bewildering–well–it just seems so natural, for her.
And, she’s not the only one that I observe, and have observed, through the years. That I’ve watched and tried to imitate. That I’ve tried to make my parenting “look like” their parenting. Maybe that sounds strange–but that has been how I’ve weaved my way through the past, good grief, 22 years.
(Shelly pauses to repeat to herself over and over “You are not old. You are not old. You are not old.” Sigh.)
There may be a myriad of reasons why I have been such a fumbler at parenting; but the reasons aren’t really that important.
But, what is important, is the “picture” that parenting is. Or, that it should be.
The shadow. The echo.
Sure, as a Christ-follower, I could certainly write about God as Father, and what that looks like. Much needs to be said about that. Much has been said about that, from minds much smarter and much wiser than my own.
So, instead, I want to approach it more from the angle of what it looks like, as a child of God’s.
For some of us, the concept of God as Father is a tough thing–again, for many different reasons. But scripture tells us over and over and over again that we are just that–God’s children. We see it in far too many places in scripture, to try to grab a sampling and place here. It is truth.
But here’s the thing—when I look at parenting, and how incredibly challenging and overwhelming I find it and how so very often I fail—
—and how grateful I am to have a God, who–as parent–parents me perfectly.
I’m sure I wasn’t an easy child to raise, for my parents.
I’m positive I wasn’t an easy child to raise.
But, really, are any of us?
No. We are not. We most certainly are not/were not as children, and–as adults–we are not.
A friend once warned me a few years ago that parenting doesn’t end, when a child becomes an adult. I don’t think I believed them when they told me that then; I certainly believe that now. I still parent my “adult” children.
And, as an adult, I still need God, the Father, to parent me. I need Him to continue to raise me, even. To discipline me when I need it. To teach continually and always. To provide, every single day. To guide me–absolutely. To encourage, through His scripture and His people. And, to comfort me, when I fall down and scrape my knees–or worse. It’s James 1:17-18:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
I need God, as Father.
And so I think that, even though I feel like such a failure at this parenting thing on a daily–no, hourly basis; I am thankful even for the fumbling awkward-ness that I find parenting to be.
Because my inadequate-ness points me to God, and my desperate need of His help to parent this crew He has given me, I am also made aware of my need for Him as Father–who sees my life, who knows my thoughts and joys and fears and griefs, who knows what I need and provides it, and who is accessible…and approachable.
Keller sums up that last point here, in these words:
The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access. (Timothy Keller)
And there are many, many nights, when I approach God, my Father, at 3:00AM, and ask Him to settle my soul. How grateful I am, that He is the God who is Father, and is there.