Parenting a child takes an amazing amount of energy. It takes physical energy; first to change diapers, feed the child, and then nurture them. There is an emotional investment in the child as well. Worry. Joy. Concern. Hope. Frustration. Our child wanders through life making, forming; earning experience and knowledge that we hope will prevent harm from finding them.
We want the best for our child. School. Opportunities. We want our child to occupy that geography of success that may have eluded us. As our child grows we are blessed with moments of clarity about ourselves in equal amounts of wondering how it all is going to work out.
One day it is diapers and giggles, sweet little voices exploring the innocence of the world; the next it is annoyed, cranky teen roaming the world looking for independence and geography of their own.
There are the firsts. First steps. First words. First party. First overnight stay. First trip. First day of school. First day of high school. Then the first time they go out at night. They depart with friends to go to the game and hanging out afterwards. They cheer on the victor, process the world through giggles, gossip, and glee.
You prepare them the best you can to meet this world. You equip them with the harsh imperfect, unjust ways this world treats people of color. You have hope in your heart that your child’s life will be different. Bargaining with God for this to be true.
You stay up late wondering what they are doing. Running all the possible scenarios through your head. Who are they with? What decisions are they making that will impact their future or invite a series of misfortunate events upon them? Who is coming to my house at 3 AM to tell me the bad news?
Your mind wanders from zero to 60 in 2 seconds. You already got to the part where the worst-case scenario has happened and you are on TV begging for information about what happened. Sleep is not even a remote possibility. The knotted pit in your stomach aches and groans, demanding attention. Your already tired and weak will is taxed, ready to give in. That glimmer of hope is all you have. The world seems to be against you. And your allies few.
How can this get any worse?
You go from bargaining with God to begging and pleading. If you bring them home safe, I will do [X]. You whittle away causality, working the God angles until you arrive at a seemingly reasonable conclusion. You convince yourself that if you worry enough God will see your earnest heart and return your child to you, safe and sound.
Parenting and being parented is hard. We all have been the object of worry and have been the worrier. This is part of our “made in God image”
My parents waited 10 years in marriage until they started a family. This may as well have been 50 years in the mid 60’s. My parents suffered two miscarriages before my twin brother and I were born. We were born prematurely and spent the first two months of our lives in a hospital. The only physical touch my parents had with us was through gloved hands from inside an incubator, fighting to keep us alive.
They suffered another miscarriage before my little brother was born. Fighting to be parents alongside of parenting was hard. They did not make it. They divorced within two years of my little brother’s birth.
Leaving a lasting impression upon us, this divorce influenced us. As we approached the marrying age we all were skittish about marriage, divorce, parenting, and life.
I got married. We fought to forge a new life together. We moved to Oklahoma City and tip-toed to parenthood with the adoption of a cat. This is the first cat I have ever owned. At first it was for my wife. She grew up with cats and has wanted one ever since the ink dried on our marriage certificate.
So we went down to the Humane Society on December 16th of last year. We were drawn to this little, wiry tabby cat that was reaching for us from under the door.. We went in to the room and she approached us and claimed us as her own. We picked her up and knew that she was to share our home.
My wife was excited. We named the cat Arlo, after the famous folk singer. We got all of the appropriate cat accouterment and some food. Arlo sniffed her way around the house and got comfy in her new digs.
We have had ups and downs. She found carpet, sheets, and furniture to “mark” as her own. We attempted to corral this cat’s behavior. I discovered you do not own a cat as much as the cat allows for you to live in their space.
Today marks the ninth month that we have had Arlo in our lives. I can say that this little experiment is no longer for my wife. I love this little cat. I appreciate her company. She has awakened the parental parts of me. I nurture and care for this cat as if she was my child.
She has inspired my wife and I to confidence in other ways God may be calling us to parent. We have kept this cat alive for nine months we surely can care for a human baby.
Our cat got lost last night…
Parenting is hard. [God as our parent] I imagine that God fells the same anxiety and emotion that I felt for every one of us. God hovers over us, stands beside us, watching from afar to see if we are ok.
After these events, the word of YHWH came to Abram in a vision, “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.”
Abram said, “But my Sovereign, My God, what good are these blessings to me, so long as Sarai and I will die in disgrace? My only heir is a foreigner who lives in my household, Eliezer, a man from Damascus.” Since you haven’t given me any offspring, “ Abram continued, “An attendant in my house will be my heir.”
Then the Word of YHWH came to Abram and said, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will be of your own flesh and blood.”Then God took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can! As many as that, you will have for descendants.”Abram believed YHWH, and God attributed it to Abram’s righteousness.
YHWH then said to Abram, I am YHWH who brought from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.” Abram asked, Sovereign God, how do I know that I will possess it?”
God answered Abram, “Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all of these, split them in half, and laid the halves facing each other, but he didn’t split the birds.When vultures swooped down on the carcasses, Abram waved them off.As the sun was about to set, a trance fell over Abram. A deep and terrifying darkness enveloped him.
Then YHWH said to Abram, “Have no doubt that your descendants will live as immigrants in a land that isn’t their own, where they will be oppressed in bondage for four hundred years.But I will punish the nation that binds you; you will leave with great wealth.As for you, you will join your ancestors in peace and be buried in your old age. The fourth generation will return here since the Amorites’ wrongdoing won’t have reached its peak until then.”
After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals. That day YHWH made [a] covenant with Abram… ” [Genesis 15]
It seems silly in a way that God would lose sleep over our woes. But that is what is at stake here in this story. Abram and Sarai desperately want to be parents. They have spent a lifetime working at getting there. God sees their desperation and in Gods grand concern answers their plea. They shall be parents.
Parenting is hard. Those that parent know the rewards outweigh the costs. Parents know that the job they perform is the Kingdom Working exposed Gospel of Jesus Christ. You want a quick way to expose your nakedness, become a parent. Your flaws, brokenness, and shortcomings will shine like a beacon in the night. So to will your strengths, courage, and gifts shine as a light guiding those you parent towards God. Being a parent is as close as you can get to being like God. Parenting is a divine act full of intimate prophecy about you and about this world.
What have you discovered as a parent? What is God parenting us towards?