Saturday, 12 April 2014

The tasks of parenthood

There is no love like a mother’s love! It is unconditional and sacrificial. I always thought I knew what it meant to love. I didn’t, until I became a mother! My youngest son was born two and half months ago, and he continues to fill my heart with wonder every day.

I enjoy looking at his perfect details. His perfectly formed toenails, his dimples when he smiles, his cute nose, his chubby cheeks, … He is so perfect, I tell you!

But did you know God does the same with you? He delights so much in you that every hair on your head is numbered! Isn’t that amazing?! He knows when hair number 200 falls down, He knows when hair number 60,000 is uprooted by your comb. He cares that much!

Just like my son doesn’t need to earn my love, we too do not need to earn God’s love. HE loves us just because we are his. No matter how annoying our behaviour is sometimes, HE never gives up on us. He never says we have committed the “unpardonable” sin. His grace never runs out. God truly has motherly love for us!

Some religious people feel that this kind of love shouldn’t be taught, that it would encourage people to sin more. But that is a lie. Perfect love casts out all fear. When you know how much God loves you, you are filled with appreciation that you in turn want to live for Him alone. Oftentimes it is guilt, shame and condemnation, which are based on fear of God’s judgement, that make people hardened in sin.

We can be filled with joy knowing that we are God’s babies, the Bible is full of evidence of that. Jesus suffering and dying is the proof of God’s sacrificial love for each of us.  And in turn, He wants us to do the same to others, especially our own children. If you have children like me, these are some areas where we could show godly love towards them:

Patience: God is extraordinarily patient with us and never gives up on us. We are no surprise to Him at all. We too should believe in our children even when it seems they are bent on driving us up the wall! Granted they will not often do exactly what we want, but we can show them love regardless. One attribute of love is patience. It helps to remember that they will get it wrong many times, before they get it right. There is no need to be overly disappointed or harsh with them. Remember your own failures too when you were their age. Also remember they have never been on this road before, you have.

Uniqueness: One of the things that amazes me about God is that He is not random. He has a purpose for everything He makes and our children are no exception. Before the world was formed, He knew you would the parent of that child or children. He carefully handpicked you and your spouse out of the billions of humans on earth to partner with Him in raising that little child! And each of them, regardless of their gender, is uniquely different, with strengths and weaknesses, and a purpose to fulfil on earth.

Do not compare your children with each other or with their friends, it would be like comparing two masterpieces, which is just plain silly! Besides it belittles the child’s self worth and leads to all sorts of problems in future. Let your child know that he/she is loved just the way he/she is. Appreciate their uniqueness and guide them to reach their highest potential.

Guidance: Psalms 23 is also known as The Shepherd’s prayer. In this psalm, David the psalmist, talks about how God will guide him like a shepherd guides the flock to restful pastures and away form harm. As parents, our job is to guide our children in the way they should go. This will involve teaching them, training them, showing them the right things, protecting them, correcting them, helping them, encouraging them, providing for them and praying for them, etc. And yes we will need to discipline them from to time, BUT it should be done out of love not anger. Please do not let them ever doubt your love, even when you correct them. Your child should not be afraid of you, but see you as a loving parent who can never harm him/her. Remember a child’s understanding of God is based on your behaviour.

Stewardship: We will be required to give account of our stewardship of all the gifts God blesses us with, especially our children. That child is not just yours, he/she belongs to God, you are just a caretaker for a period of time. Therefore treat the child as its owner (God) intends. 

Before Jesus was crucified, He prayed to God about His disciples, and in John 17:12, He said, While I was with them in the world,[a] I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept;[b] and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Will we be able to say the same thing about our children or will we be full of regrets? Know this, we will be required to give account of how well we kept those that God entrusted to us.

Being a parent is one of the greatest jobs, if not THE greatest job on earth. It is a display of God’s trust in us, to give us the greatest gift. Often times we think money, time or even spiritual gifts are more important. But that’s not true, we can lose these other gifts and get them back, but its very difficult to reclaim a lost childhood. We can’t afford to take this privilege and responsibility lightly. Our society bears evidence of failed parenting in the form of youths who are a menace.

Our children have seeds of greatness inside of them, and we can choose to partner with God to unlock their potentials. The Bible tells us “to whom much is given, much is required”. God requires that we nurture them and guide them to be all HE made them to be. My prayer is that when that time comes, when we stand before God, we will be commended for being “good and faithful servants”. But even before then, may we enjoy the pride of seeing our children being a blessing to mankind.

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