From an article originally posted August 6, 2013…
Please be patient with me as I struggle articulating what is on my heart in words. Throughout this summer I have had many conversations with families concerning my new perspective on parenting, and I have had a really positive response. In its explanation it seems simplistic, but in practice I’m learning the struggle of this new perspective.
I will first say, Jason and I are very simple in our practices when it comes to parenting. Through the little years, we lived with a very simple philosophy: love is kind. Love is kind has been the filter through which we look at all of our parenting. If love is kind, then discipline is kind. If love is kind, even at our most irritated, we don’t have permission to leave the realm of kindness. This is no small feat, no easy thing to accomplish. But it has served us well. These three simple words have marked our young years raising children and loving one another. We have worked to know the art of a kind conflict. We have failed often, and we have used love being kind to be the filter through which we look for what we need to apologize for/repent of to the kids and each other. it has been a humbling gauge whereby we live our life. When we go outside the boundaries of kindness, it’s our humble opportunity to apologize and ask for forgiveness. When we asked the elders to pray over me as I faced cancer, I begged them to pray that God would allow me to be kind as I was about to be at my worst.
Now our children are getting older and the struggles they are facing are a little more complex. The principal of kindness will never be outgrown by any of us in this house, but if we are all honest within each of our homes are personalities that can be abrasive personally to each of us as parents. I would never share those specifics in the forum. But, in general terms, as parents we must agree that the perfect Facebook life we present isn’t always the truth. Sometimes the struggles of our children are truly difficult. But as I understand more and more of the gospel, I see how God moves towards me in my ugly and not away.
This is where my new simple philosophy of parenting/life comes into play. It’s simple. It’s a matter of trajectory. Direction. Focus. I have a new simple picture of the gospel. Jesus is continually moving towards me. His face always towards me, always gently pursuing, always desiring nearness. Even as I turn away, act out, move towards my own ends, He stays ever focused towards me and not away.
So, in my marriage, with my children, my heart’s desire is to always be moving towards those people in my life. When they turn, push, move away, that needs to be all the more motivation to move towards my children. I, as the parent, refuse to give myself permission to let the abrasive nature of the sin of another push me away. Romans says that it’s the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance.
With Jason, I realize there was an area of my heart that had become distant through my illness. I see this new idea as a way to move toward him in a new way. It’s a matter of direction. I want to always be moving towards Jason and not allowing distance between us. We have a way to go, but I feel we are moving towards each other, and that is a glorious thing.
Mickey was the one who challenged me to always move towards my children, especially through the tough years. For some, 2 is the tough year, for others it will be the teen years. I have so enjoyed each new season with my kids, but some seasons take more intention than others. Each of us is made with a natural love for certain ages. But that does not give any of us permission to pull away in the seasons we are not particularly fond of with our children.
I’m praying today you look for the grace to move towards your difficult situations and personalities in your home. We must acknowledge as our children pull away, it is coming from a place of them begging for us to pursue them. When I was first introduced to Jesus at 17, it was the first love that had moved toward me where I was in my ugly. To say it was life changing, would be an understatement.
So the hard question? Who have you allowed to push you away? How can you begin to move towards them today? How can you change your trajectory from moving towards distance to moving nearer to love? Has the sin of another pushed you to a place you have forgotten the kindness shown to you in your own ugly?
Above all these relationships, I must not forget my relationship with Jesus. This principal applies in this area of my life as well. I feel that processing last year has caused some distance for me in this area. Jesus is such a gentle pursuer, constantly moving toward me. What a humble example. Even as I pull away, He is not offended by my bad manners and distance. Without Him, I could never be moving towards others in my life.