Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Humbled parenting

His mercies are new every morning and by dinner time yesterday, life had settled back down and the meal was actually pleasant. And in the light of day and through the grace of God, our little eruption yesterday might only be a small set-back instead of the great leap backwards that it felt like in the morning. Regardless, in the light of a new day, both parents and child are in a better place and more regulated. Thank you for your prayers.

My relationship with my child, though, never ceases to teach me new things about my relationship to God. It is only through the prism of human adoption that we can begin to comprehend the magnitude and beauty and grace that accompanies God's adoption of us, His imperfect creation. I try so hard and parent so imperfectly in the midst of hurt and pain, that it is staggering to think that this is how I appear to God and how He manages to love me despite it all.

At the root of the most current crisis, is the desire for things. And the current desired item-du-jour is not one that would be either feasible or appropriate. In fact, possession of it would be a train wreck from the beginning. There are very good reasons for saying no and all are done out of love and care and concern. We, the parents can understand this, but it is very difficult for the child. All the child sees is that the thing perceived as bringing joy and happiness, the thing that will make life perfect and bearable, is being denied. And that one item becomes the focus to such a degree that is shuts out any other good gift that has been given. Though awash in plenty, all that is seen is the lack.

And then, when you add in a recent birthday and seeing a sibling get something that was greatly desired, it add fuel to the fire. Not only is your heart's desire not being granted, but it must mean that you are not worth it because other people are being given their heart's desire. Surely that is the only plausible explanation. Quickly, despite all logic, the child is plunged into feeling worthless and unloved, which quickly spiral the child down into darker places.

I sometimes want to pull my hair out over this thinking. I mean, J. and I often bend over backwards to fill this child's life with good things, things that are wanted. How can this not be noticed? How can desire for one item that has been denied so skew the thinking? How can another child getting a good gift so set a person on edge?

But then I have to stop and be honest with myself. How many times have I done this exact same thing? How often have I fixated on something and become angry at God for not being a divine vending machine, churning out my every wish? How often have I become discouraged because someone else was given a good thing and because I, too, did not get a good thing at that very moment, it must mean God has withdrawn His love? Too many times to count, I'm afraid.

The truth is, I act towards God almost exactly as my child acts towards me on a fairly regular basis. While I admit I do blow up occasionally despite knowing that in good connected and therapeutic parenting, it does no good, I can be in awe of God's eternal patience and love towards me. And if I am continuing in my honesty, that what I am most angry about is my child's unwillingness to admit his mistakes and come to me and let me hold him and love him while we work through it. It hurts when I receive anger and rebuke when it is so far from what I desire.

I must hurt God all the time. He just wants to hold me and love me in the midst of the messiness of life and often times I, too, storm off in a fit of anger, pushing Him away. Yet, just as I, an imperfect parent am still there for my child, God is so much more perfectly there for me.

We all need adoption in the church. Not only because it is the act of putting the lonely into families, but because it so greatly illuminates our need for God. If we can put ourselves in the place of our children, it is a truly humbling experience. And this is the very best place for us to truly meet God.


Carla said...

Thank you for your honest, raw feelings expressed in this post. It is a blessing to me - and a great reminder.

Years ago, as I was in my mid 30s and still single, some wise person pointed out that we often act just like Adam & Eve in the garden of Eden. We are surrounded by all the best and choicest fruits and everything that we could need, and we just focus on the one and only thing to which God has said, "no".

I needed the reminder to look at the expansive and lavish garden He has given to me.

I can't say that I have first-hand experience on the adoption front (spiritual adoption not included), but parenting in and of itself has given me a similar view. How incredibly great is God's love!

Angie Butcher said...

I've said this before - my non-adopted child behaves in similar ways and it is frightening. I so appreciate your wise and calm words on this. My emotions are so tied into the issues, I often can't even see it clearly. Some days I wish I had an "adoption" diagnosis to help me figure this all out - but your words are applicable no matter what the reasons for the behavior are. Some kids want things so badly and don't handle disappointment well. It is not easy to stay consistent and loving when they are trying to make you lose it. Thank you!

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