Thursday, July 24, 2008

Perfect Love

So much of this parenting journey has little to do with the kids and much to do with me. God teaches me so much about himself in this process. When M was born we were young and clueless and the big thing in Christian circles was the ironically titled "Growing Kids God's Way" which is a loveless and dictatorial way of parenting that makes my stomach turn to think about. It was all about rules, limits, boundaries, control and training. I guess the basic premise is that we are not created in the image of God, but must be molded into it by our older and therefore, more God-like elders. Being given dignity and respect is secondary to threats, control and humiliation.

I realize this sounds like a harsh critique, and it is. Don't misunderstand me. I believe children are under the authority of their parents and that it is my job to "train them up". I guess what I am trying to get to is that our children belong to the Lord. Our greatest role is to model HIS LOVE and GRACE. I once heard a pastor, when speaking of The Fall, comment that Adam and Eve rebelled, and their Father was perfect. How freeing! I could, after all these years of trying, actually become the perfect Mother and my children would still have the free will to ignore and disobey me. Think about the command to honor your parents. It says "children obey your parents in the Lord" (Col. 3:20) and "Honor your father and your mother" (Ex. 20:12). The responsibility ultimately rests with the child. It does not say, "chide, threaten, demean, and embarrass your children so that they will obey you" or even "it is your job to make your child obedient". Imagine if God said, "Go share the gospel with that person right now or I will withhold the sun for a week." Instead he says, "because I have loved you, go and love others" (1 John 3:11-24 just as an example-really the entire Bible states and restates that message).

With the addition of our sons through adoption I began to study attachment theories pretty seriously. It is both a scary and beautiful thing, the fragility of our souls. When an infant or childs needs are not met over and over again their perception of the world is that it is dangerous and they must fight and defend themselves at any cost. They decide to need no one. But deep in the heart, the heart that is in the image of God, is the need for relationship. It is by HIS design that we need each other, and that we NEED HIM. We were created to be in fellowship with Him, and the lack of it will only bring emptiness. So, since my boys came to me with hurts and fears what is the best way to heal them? In my mind at this point I have to return to my heavenly Father. How does He heal my hurts?

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 147:3

So, our Lord is near to us in our pain, and our motivation for obeying Him is His love for us.

"We love because He first loved us."
1John 4:19

Children with attachment challenges are 99% of the time reacting to the world from a place of fear. They fear they are unloveable. They fear they will be left yet again by those they care for so they put up walls. They fear that allowing someone else the role of provider could result in not being provided for, and so they make sure their needs are met with no regard for those around them. They are in survival mode. It occurred to me recently that I have lived much of my Christian life with an attachment disorder. I have held onto things of this world because I thought I needed them. I did not trust the Lord to fill the void that would be left if I let go of them. I did not believe that HE was enough. I had to look out for ME. I worried about doing the right things, disappointing the Lord and ultimately falling out of favor with Him. I had yet to fully grasp His endless boundless love for me. I had yet to fully grasp that my salvation BY GRACE was just that. It had nothing to do with me. He sent His Son to die a cruel and awful death FOR ME even while I was STILL IN MY SIN! How many times have I heard this and yet I think I could meditate on it for years and never really get it.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
1John 4:18

When I really feel the full impact of God's love in my life I will stop looking out for my own needs. I will be willing to let go of the role of provider in my own life (which is only an illusion anyway). I will acknowledge that all I have and need comes from Him. I do not have to be vigilant in maintaing my own comfort. HE is all I need, and I can trust Him to provide. Then it will be so much easier to hold loosely to the things of this world, to be willing to make sacrifices for others.
So as I pray each night for my children to feel secure in my love for them I pray also that God would remind me of His love. As I pray that my kids will have such a strong foundation of love in our home that they will be able to reach out in love to those around them I also pray that God's love would flow through me and pour out to others. I pray that I will not feel the need to hold onto my security blankets (whatever they may be) with no regard for those around me. I pray for the assurance that He is all I need and He will provide.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deut. 31:6

"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Phil 4:19

1 comment:

Ericka said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you so much for the blessing.