Find yourself in a small group or a Sunday school class with a span of generations and eventually as a mommy with little ones still at home you will hear the older “mature” Christians empathy that in 2015 to put it bluntly, you’re screwed. Of course they will most likely say it with a little more class but all in all you get the picture. Call them “The Greatest Generation” or the “Baby Boomers” but with both I have had to listen with a stiff upper lip that the world is going to hell in a hand basket and boy are they sure glad they don’t have young children. Been in that soul crushing conversation loop before? Somehow toddlers and current events merge and there it is, the smile turned upside down, shaking of the wise head from side to side, heavy shoulders and a deep sigh before “Boy I sure feel sorry for you” or “I’m just glad I’ve already raised my kids” or my personal favorite “There’s no way I’d want to raise kids in today’s world.”
It’s not hard to gauge why there’s a sympathetic concern for the environment in which we are forced to raise our kids. Just this past week everyone’s news feeds have blown up with celebrity sex changes, racial tensions, sibling molestation, riots and same-sex marriage argued in the highest court of our land. I actually find myself missing Miley Cyrus gyrating half naked on a wrecking ball as the lead story. The anger in the stories and commentaries just between Christians wears out my quickly dwindling well of hope for this world.
Just thinking about my oldest starting to use the computer one day can quickly overload my mind as to the dangers of the internet, cyber bullying, perverts trolling online, photo locations used for evil intent and the list goes on and on. Fear, concern, worry, worst case thinking all are stops on the road to doom and gloom. As parents, we know the challenges and we are aware that things of the world will continue to only shock and most likely negate the Biblical teachings we are trying to instill in our children. The fact dear older brothers and sisters in Christ that after the nightly news you pray for Jesus to rapture you now is not helping those of us up to our elbows in children already weary and worn out before our first cup of coffee cools.
So what do we need from those who have previously walked this parenthood path and share our common faith? Three things you can start doing now would be nice if I might speak on behalf of my group:
1. Stop saying that God isn’t big enough. Now of course you aren’t exactly saying that outright but yes that is your message. “Whoa this world is a mess and there’s no hope for y’all.” Beyond the discouragement that type of thinking evokes it also is in direct confrontation with God’s promise in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)” Furthermore even in the worst case social settings such as before the Ark launched or even before Sodom and Gomorrah burned, God still protected and rescued those who loved and obeyed Him. My overburdened heart and weary head needs a little hope, a little faith and a little joy around the present circumstances. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. (NIV)” 2 Peter 1:3
2. Agree that my parenting alone is not enough, but don’t make me question that my parenting is by accident. In this day and age whether you send your kids off to daycare or have them homeschooled, the armor of God is more than just a nice Biblical image. It should be a daily prayer request that should be on the tips of our tongues. Bind their little feet Lord to not lead them astray or wander into danger, protect their young hearts from mean girls and bullies, let them know the word of God is true so it might be that sword they can slay the enemy’s lies with when they look in the mirror and hate their reflection, girdle them with truth so that I can trust them when they are out of site but never out of mind. It is with God alone that we walk this parenting path, sometimes tripping on the hem of His robe when we are so in step with Him we can feel His holiness and other times only clinging to the end of His robe literally hanging on by only a thread. Realize the conversation of “I’d never want to have kids in this day and age” does nobody any good. My kids are birthed. They are here. That train has left the station. Now what? Let’s recognize the truth in Ecclesiastics 3:1 & 2 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. A time to give birth and a time to die. (New American Standard Bible)”
3. Realize that you as a mature brother or sister of Christ have a stake in building up the next generation as the church and those in it grow figuratively and literally. The early days of the church as noted in Acts had everyone selling off possessions to give to the success of the church. They took care of widows and orphans, even creating a committee dedicated to that community. Paul and the disciples were racking up frequent flier points encouraging the new Christians in their zip codes and beyond that they would be taken care of financially, spiritually and mentally. Then Paul would return to keep motivating despite being thrown in jail or capsized or beaten or run out of town or my personal worst nightmare – naked in public. Beyond the selling of goods to bring money to the church leaders and eating all meals together “with glad and sincere hearts” I can only imagine that this is where the original “it takes a village” truly happened with positive words, tidbits, advice and suggestions in building each other. Seeing a need and filling it is one of the golden rules in Marketing 101 so search out that weary mother and see how her colicky baby is doing, offering advice if it’s welcomed. Hold a toddler so a mom can actually use the restroom alone. Bounce a baby on your knee and reassure that exhausted new momma that milestones are subjective and her baby is happy so she’s doing it right. Tell the fraught mom of the preschooler running circles around her about your wild child and how he drove you mad but now he’s a successful business man and an amazing man of God. Instead of shining the spotlight on what’s wrong in the here and now – which is totally beyond her control yet within our Creator’s control – shine it years ahead so she can see the light at the end of the tunnel that her holy terror will actually turn out OK, that she will sleep through the night one day, that her stubborn preschooler won’t wear pull ups to college and that her swollen belly with another on the way is still the miracle of God’s promise that His ways are higher than our ways. Remind her that He has a plan for a future and a hope for her and for each and every one of us thank the good Lord. And finally . . .
“Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. (MSG)” Colossians 4:6