In my brief years of raising children, I have discovered that parents fall into one of two categories. Either parents become resentful or satisfied as their children grow up. The resentful parent will go through their children’s younger years pushing them from behind; hurried for them to become independent. They become tired and resentful because it requires so much from them. Or they jump in with both feet and become satisfied and thankful for their children. Consequently they experience the joys alongside of their kids. I realize that these are clear-cut categories that are actually murkier in real life. In general though I think that parents can be fit into one of these two categories of thinking.
The idea of becoming parents is tempting and satisfying because it’s the next logical step in life. I think that most people get to a point where they are prepared for parenthood, but not prepared for the sacrifice. Those who accept the sacrifice as a reality and even as a gift end up becoming parents who see kids as a joy instead of a burden.
As Christians we cry out our life’s goal as becoming more and more like Jesus. While this is an important goal, we need to remember Jesus’ life as a whole. We prefer to live like Jesus when he was showing mercy to the hemorrhaging woman or restoring the demoniac. We lay him out at the last supper, feeding and washing the feet of the disciples. Our minds seem to skip past the betrayal, suffering, mockery, and pain Jesus experienced here on earth. We picture the wonderful times he and the disciples spent feeding thousands and fishing late into the night. Or the times he had to rebuke the disciples for going about healing in a wrong way. He even went so far as to call Peter a name-Satan.
But Jesus continued to walk with them. He looked to the disciples as his children. Children who would get messy and say inappropriate things in the market. He was going to be needed to bind up wounds and explain why people gossip. He didn’t look down at them as children unworthy of his time or resources. He understood that his time with them would be short. He also knew that they would turn from him, thankless for the lives that he had given them. Yet he continued to walk with them, not resent them.
Did he have other things to do? Sure. People from every crevice near and far wanted his attention. But over and over again, we see him piecing off and living with his disciples. He didn’t see his nurture and care for them as a waste of time. He saw it as part of his purpose on this earth. To help them understand what the Kingdom of God was like by knitting consistency and trust into the hearts of the disciples.
When we treat our kids like they are a burden or getting in the way of things we’d rather be doing, we are knitting holes into their understanding of the Lord. These holes add up to a shoddy, weak understanding of a faithful God. We won’t be perfect, but if we are consistent, repentant, humble, and honest then at least all the strings will be attached. The knitting might look lopsided or the wrong color, but at least there are not holes and gaps that are difficult to fill after that little one is old enough to fill it with other things. Let’s commit together as parents to put our whole selves into the task of parenting. To teach our children that committing to them is not only our gift to them, but a gift to us as well.