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Carrying an Aching Heart

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The moment Caleb and I began the adoption process, my heart began to grow. It feels just like it did when I was pregnant, although without the nausea. My heart feels as if it’s making room. Every day, my love for Luca grows, my love for Caleb grows but nothing can enter or fill the space in my heart that is meant for our new child. It’s just there. Waiting. It’s filled with light and soft pillows and the scent of baking. It’s home. Home for our little one who is miles and miles and miles away.

How do you miss someone you’ve never even met? I remember feeling this way when I was pregnant. I felt so close to my baby yet so far. All I wanted was to hold him. I could hardly wait! This is no different, except there is an ocean both literally and figuratively, between us. I don’t have the comfort of my child being “with” me but honestly I still felt scared and uncertain when my child was growing inside of me. There was the constant, “Is this normal?”… “Is this ok?”…. “What if something goes wrong?” There are no guarantees in life.

I’m not meaning to compare my current heartache to that of the anxious pregnant mother. There are similarities and there are differences. I had somewhat of a difficult pregnancy and postpartum recovery so I have my biases. I think that the endless paperwork and ridiculous waiting period may be just as difficult as when I had a biological child. But let’s talk about the heartache that comes with adoption.

You see, at some point, I fell in love with a person. Before I fell in love with this person, before my heart began it’s renovation, I was in love with an idea. I have always wanted to adopt a child, truly, as long as I can remember I have had a heart for orphans. It must be in my blood because my sister is the same way. We rescued countless animals to my parents’ dismay. That was just practice though. Now, I’m ready to adopt an actual child! What an adventure this will be!

And what an adventure it is. I anticipated the frustrating paperwork, the difficult waiting period once we were matched and the excitement of traveling to a foreign country. I couldn’t wait to learn more about Chinese culture! I just didn’t realize how hard this part of the process would be emotionally. We haven’t been matched yet, I shouldn’t be sad, right?

I guess the only thing I can relate this to is pregnancy again. I loved my baby before I knew if we were having a boy or a girl. I didn’t care. I just knew that I was going to be a mama and a little baby was going to be mine to love. My heart grew to make room for this precious one that would enter our lives. This feels the same. I haven’t seen a photo yet, but I know our child is out there.

This is heartbreaking. Every day it feels like there is a little part of my heart is aching. Maybe a better word is empty. Or longing. It is longing to be filled. Not only because we’re not together, but because our child could be living in dire circumstances. I just don’t know. I choose to believe that he/she is in a happy, loving foster home. I PRAY that this is the case.

I mean, think about it, this child is going to be a part of our family FOREVER and most likely we will miss the first two years of their life.  That’s right, we have no say over those delicate first 2 years. If you have a child, think of all the joy, the pain, the lessons, the bonding, the adventure that you have had in those first 2 years. If you don’t have children, imagine the last two years without a significant other in your life. Think of all the memories you have shared. Two years seem like quite a long time to me right now.

The classes we have taken have informed us that our child will always have to reconcile the fact that they were abandoned. Their past cannot be erased. That is so hard for me to hear because all I want to do is protect my children. I just wish I could go over there right now! There’s a little child within me that is throwing quite an elaborate tantrum over this. Feet are stomping, I assure you.

But…we can’t change the past.  But we will change his/her future. That is what I’m trying to focus on. I have to focus on the good. Yet, again, it’s just like pregnancy. I would try my best to stay positive and then out would someone come with a blurted-out horror story of birth or pregnancy and hence my worries would return. The same is true of adoption. I need to stay focused on the success stories but inevitably I collide with stories of children who “still only give stiff hugs after being home for two years.” Attachment issues, sensory issues,  developmental delays… these things are all very real in the adoption world. They are more common than not. We need to be prepared for them and we will be. We just have to find that delicate balance between being prepared for reality and becoming hopeless. We must stay positive.

I read a sermon a few days ago by John Piper. His words brought me hope and encouragement. Jesus promises that His grace is sufficient for us. In tough times, the times such as this I am reminded: when I am weak, He. is. strong.

I have become more dependent upon God because He is my advocate. He can bring comfort and love and protection to my child while I cannot. I implore Him daily to do this. I beg. My humanity makes my abilities limited, I am powerless over this situation. I am weak but He is strong. In my weakness I am finding His strength within me. It’s beautiful. Free. Light.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

This adoption process, like marriage, pregnancy, parenthood… is just another tool for the sanctification process. It is an opportunity to worship when I feel like screaming. To release to God instead of anxiously trying to control that which I cannot. I am humbled. I am fostering patience. I am shedding pride. My trust in Him is growing astronomically and He’s gently revealing when I don’t trust Him. I am feeling more connected to Him than I have in so long. For this I am grateful.

If your heart is aching from something that has happened or is happening to you, how do you mend it? 

Just Clearing Something Up About Natural Childbirth

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I just read an article that was forwarded to me by my cousin who knows me too well. She knew when she sent me this article, titled, “The Cult of Natural Childbirth Has Gone Too Far” that I would have something to say about it… and she was right. The article was inspired by the release of a new child-birth tv show named, “Born Into the Wild.” It’s a show that captures women having unassisted births in nature. I will admit, that seems a little extreme to me, but hey, to each his (or her) own.

The article was written by Elissa Strauss, a Brooklyn resident who is feeling way to much pressure from the natural birthing movement. She chose to have an epidural and seems to be ok with that. I have no problem with her opinion on the upcoming tv show or her own birth decisions, I DO have a problem with this…

Elissa makes a huge assumption that I feel very compelled to correct: Women choose to have a natural child-birth to prove something. 

Now, I can’t speak for all natural birthing women, but I can speak for myself. I’m going to speak loudly, hope you don’t mind…

I DID NOT HAVE A NATURAL CHILD BIRTH TO PROVE ANYTHING TO ANYONE.

Nor do I think less of women who choose to not have a natural child-birth.

In case you’re curious, here’s why I chose to go the way I did: I wanted my birth to be in a relaxing comfortable environment that I could fully control. Oh and …. I didn’t really feel like sharing one of the most vulnerable moments of my ENTIRE LIFE with a random rotating staff of people. And….I knew I was in good health and that I didn’t NEED to be at a hospital.

Yes, I was also influenced by different studies that show there CAN be a correlation between an epidural and difficulties in breast-feeding. I also heard stories of some women who had more difficulty pushing once they had an epidural and then that led to a c-section. I mean, you can find all kinds of research to support the epidural or not. One thing that is strikingly undebatable though, is that your chances of  a c-section are higher when giving birth in a hospital and considering that c-sections are, in fact, MAJOR abdominal surgery, I was happy to avoid that possibility as much as possible.

Now let me address this quote:

“As extreme as it may sound, the show is, believe it or not, a natural extension of a culture that has turned labor into a defining moment in women’s lives, their first chance to prove just how devoted a mother they truly are.”

Um, ouch. If you were convicted that something really was the best for your child, would you not want to do that for them? NOT to “prove” anything, but simply for the well-being of your child? This seems like a strikingly unfair statement. I do believe that there are less attachment-related risks involved with having a natural childbirth, I wasn’t trying to prove my devotion to anyone, I was simply trying to start my journey into motherhood with my best foot forward. I know many people who had “unnatural” child births and have a very healthy attachments with their children so in no way am I presuming that a natural child-birth is necessary to achieve that. Studies seem to show it facilitates it and that was just one reason to point me in the direction of an unmedicated birth. (Which I’d like to note, with no shame whatsoever, my birth was NOT completely unmedicated, for details you can read the story here.)

Now, I’m guessing that Elissa wrote this article because she is annoyed by the unnecessary guilt that she assumes others are trying to place on her. I don’t know what to tell you Elissa, I wish women didn’t make you feel that way. I don’t think you did anything wrong. I’m hoping that you can see however, that just because some of us chose to have a natural birth, we know it doesn’t make us better moms than you. You’re right when you said it’s only one day, but I think we can agree that it’s also a very big deal. Please don’t judge my decision to make that day as special as I wanted to in my own way. I won’t judge you either.

** You may notice that I didn’t put any links to my claims about studies saying this or studies saying that. I omitted those purposefully because this article isn’t meant to pump-up natural child-birth, which would only cause further divide.  This post is meant to clear the air, so to speak. I just want it to be known that not all natural child-birthers see themselves as “super moms” just because of their birthing choice. Birth is a big deal but, in my opinion, all of the days of motherhood that follow are a much bigger deal.**

 

Delicate Decisions: Adopting a Chinese Boy

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I may or may not have mentioned that we always figured we would adopt a girl from China. It’s kind of a no-brainer right? Girls are abandoned over there all of the time so clearly that is where the need is.

Clearly.

What I’m about to share may offend you. It may repulse you. You might see me as ugly and selfish and shallow. That’s ok. I’m going to be really vulnerable right now in the hopes that it might do some good for someone somewhere. I’m following in the footsteps of one of my new favorite blog authors Stefanie of “Ni Hao, Y’all” (Best Blog name EVER) who wrote this compelling post: My Chinese Son.

It seems that there are more boys in Chinese orphanages than girls. This may not be true for the Non-Special Needs route, but it is most certainly true for the Waiting Child Program (special needs). Truly, undoubtedly, there are more people in line to adopt girls than boys. This isn’t just true of China. This is true GLOBALLY. A couple of days ago, it was true of us.

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Click above to see the short video “Adopting a Boy.” It will warm your heart!

I wanted to adopt a Chinese girl. It’s what I had my heart set on. They’re really cute, right? Wow, I just came on out and said it didn’t I? Ok, but that’s not the only reason. I also wanted a daughter because we already have a son and it’s every couple’s goal in life to have one of each right? And come on, there are so many abandoned girls over there, it’s like a stand for all of woman kind for us to adopt a girl. Well, now I know that isn’t necessarily the case…

See, I thought there were many good reasons for wanting to adopt a girl.

Digging deeper, I see that these are ugly reasons. You ready for it? Here are the totally unfounded “reasons” followed by the voice of actual logic:

Unfounded Reason #1 Our son won’t be as intimidated by a female sibling.

Actual Logic: My son is nearly 2 and doesn’t know the difference between boys and girls. If anything, he has more consistent play with other boys and enjoys it immensely. If anything, later on he’ll be more apt to see a brother as a buddy.

Unfounded Reason #2 Boys aren’t as cute.

Actual Logic: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen ADORABLE boys on photo listings. Plus, let’s be honest, there’s no guarantee that your children, biological or adopted, will be cute by the world’s standards. I will LOVE without abandon, ANY child that is placed in my arms regardless. It’s just who I am. If we’re honest, we all grieve things about our children because they aren’t EXACTLY how we had secretly dreamed they would be but we get over it. It’s part of what makes parental love so unshakably beautiful.

Unfounded Reason #3 I originally thought we were adopting a girl, my heart was set on it.

Actual Logic:  I did have to grieve the fact that we are not 100% definitely getting a girl. I think it’s really important to allow grief. Once I allowed the grief, I started to imagine Luca playing with a little brother. I imagined people calling them, “The Snyder Boys.” I imagined a house full of Legos and trains and super-heroes. And you know what? I got really giddy about it.

Unfounded Reason #4 This could be my only chance to get a daughter.

Actual Logic: Well, this is true. We could decide we’re done having children after this. But, as Caleb said, if we were having a biological child we wouldn’t get a say in the matter, why should this be any different? I would sure love something to control but just as I learned in my pregnancy (we didn’t learn of the gender until birth) any opportunity to relinquish control to God is actually quite freeing.

And guys, let me tell you, after making this decision, I feel so free. I feel like this is totally in God’s hands and that I have submitted to His will. That nagging feeling has vanished. We could still very well get matched with a girl but I love feeling like I didn’t orchestrate that match. When we receive our match from our agency we will diligently pray over whether this is who God wants to add to our family and make the decision accordingly. I can’t wait for that day! Eeee!!!

Until then, I have a major favor to ask of you. Can you please take a moment to pray for us? We have a lot of requests, feel free to pick one and go for it, it’s SO appreciated!!

- Please pray that the first referral we get is indeed our match. 

- Pray for protection over our little one, that he/she is being regularly attended to as needed.

- Pray that he/she is feeling LOVED.

- Pray for his/her birth mother, that she will be consoled by God knowing that her child will be lavishly loved. 

- Pray that Luca will not feel less loved but only more love as we add-on to our family.

Thank you again!

For more information about Chinese Adoption, check-out this amazing website: Love Without Boundaries.

Exciting (and Terrifying) Changes!

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Well, we did it. We bought a house. Now, I know that stuff could still go wrong (I’m not really sure what, but I’m told as much) and that we don’t have the keys yet, buuut it’s looking pretty certain that we have bought a house! At the end of this month we will be moving cleaning, painting, sanding, re-finishing, re-plumbing, patching-up and all other kinds of tedious tasks that come with moving into a fixer-upper.

Currently, I am packing and I’m doing a fabulous job. Can’t you tell?

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Ok, I have done a couple of things. I’m trying to clear out all of the stuff that we don’t want to keep and placing it in our garage sale pile. What a great opportunity to have an Adoption Fundraiser Garage Sale! Oy. That’s right… we’re also in the adoption process.

Here’s the update on that: We’ve now taken 2 of 3 parent trainings. The last one was super fun. We learned about child abuse, the effects of institutionalization, and the grief that all children who’ve been abandoned will inevitably feel. Enlightening (actually: Depressing). We’ve also been really putting the petal to the metal on all of our dossier documents (the dossier is a complete packet of information about us that proves we are fit to be parents). This means we’ve been doing a lot of government issued document ordering, notarizing, and form-filling. We’ve had medical exams, blood work done, and fingerprints taken. Once we get that stuff notarized, it has to be sent to the Secretary of State and then the Chinese embassy for verification of authenticity. Sounds fun, ya?

Ok, but actually the most exciting part of this process so far (and I really am not being sarcastic this time) was the introduction to our Buddy Family. Proof that God loves us. Amen. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have been paired with another family who has adopted from China! I get really sad sometimes when I think about our child being over there not getting the attention that I would bestow. It’s really really hard. This mom, Sue Ann, gets that. She is overjoyed to help us and we have a date to meet with them in person next month! I can’t wait!

In the meantime, the main focus has been on the house. Here’s what we’re working with… (Sorry for the lame iPhone screen shot photos, I’ll get better ones later!)

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Here she is!

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I cannot WAIT to paint that wall!! AHHH!IMG_5113

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That’s right, the Pink Bathroom, circa 1955!
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This yard is going to be EPIC when we get done with it! (Granted, that’ll probably be YEARS from now, but it’s all good)

So, that’s our update! Big stuff for the Snyders! Your prayers for smooth sailing on all fronts would be appreciated. =)

Trusting That the Kingdom of God is Real

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“Sometimes anxiety seems easier to trust than to have faith.” 

When our pastor said this a couple of weeks ago it really resonated with me. Sometimes, it’s more comfortable to worry than to release my fears to God. It’s comfortable because worry gives me a sense of being in control. When I stop worrying, I feel vulnerable. Why does it seem as if I am now more prone to attack? I’m not on guard. Worry serves as a wall of protection around my heart.

Unfortunately, worry is a poor defense. Not once has worry ever protected me from harm. If anything, it robs me of the present moment by turning my focus towards a potential reality. Worry gives only the illusion of security.

Now of course, there are concerns in this life the we must deal with. Say, we have a concern that our son is delayed in some way. We deal with that concern by taking our son to be evaluated. We don’t deal with that concern by worrying about all of the possible diagnoses. Once the evaluation is complete, we can assess what resources are needed and connect to them. Worry didn’t need to be a part of this process at all.

So why do we worry? We worry because we want to feel in control. We worry because we are too scared to trust that God is in control. We worry because we doubt that the Kingdom of God is real.

All of us have doubts at some level. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have faith. As our pastor said so brilliantly, “Faith in God requires faith.” Why do we forget that? Faith requires the choice to have faith. We must have faith that the Kingdom of God is real.

If we were to believe that the Kingdom of God is real, and I mean really really believe it, here’s what we can rely on:
- God is good.

- God is present.

- God sent His son to bring us in good standing with Him again.

- This life is not all there is.

-  God will redeem ALL of the brokenness of the world.

There are many more truths we could add to this list. These are the ones I listed because they help me when I want to worry. In fact, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been freed from worry whenever I choose to be. I just think this simple phrase:

“I choose to believe.” 

When I remember that my worry is not reality and that the Kingdom of God is reality, my fears are quieted. They may not be muted completely but they take a backseat to the trust and faith that I have in God. He has been faithful to me, to all of us. I have no reason to not trust Him. I pray for God to help my unbelief. I would give anything to have faith that I never doubted. In the meantime, my doubt reminds me of my weakness and my desperate need for Him. When I find myself worrying, I realize that I am making a choice to do so and ask God to comfort my fears. I am so incredibly thankful that we have a God who is patient, kind, and steadfast.

What about you, what do you do to keep yourself from worrying?

Happy Birthday Madre!

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It’s my mom’s birthday!! Let me tell you, I have a pretty awesome mom. As you can see from the photo above, she’s young at heart. This woman loves Disney and all things magical. Well, primarily Disneyland and Harry Potter… Those are the magical things she loves. Sometimes I get too serious and when I do, I think of my mom and how she always has a fictional read on hand. She works hard, loves deeply, and sometimes gives too much… but at the end of the day she is good at relaxing and enjoying life. She is a wonderful role model!

She has now become a delightful grandma. I am so lucky to have  a mom who not only respects our (sometimes weird) parenting choices but who also seeks to understand those choices. She reads the parenting books we read and sends me interesting articles that pertain to our choices. She’s always been so invested in my life and this journey is no different.

Now that we are on the road to adoption and home ownership (more on that later) she is ready to help. Now deemed our Adoption Fundraising Manager and Packing Specialist/Luca Wrangler she doesn’t blink an eye at helping with the hard stuff. I am so thankful to have her on my team!

Thank you Mom!! I love you so much and am so grateful for who you are!

Longing for Shabbat

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“It was as if a whole people were in love with the seventh day…”

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These words, written by Abraham Heschel, stir a longing for rest in me. I long for sabbath or what is known as “shabbat” in Jewish tradition. One day where the to-do’s and shoulds and oughts of the world are placed on the shelf.

They are replaced with Rest.

What gives you rest? In her book, Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton suggests that we must notice the things that either fill us up or leave us dry. Listen to your body and soul. She has encouraged me to look at what activities give me joy and peace. Looking beyond momentary gratification, what brings a deep-seated contentment? What brings me to a place of delight in God and His goodness? These are the things that must be done on the Sabbath.

Sometimes, it’s difficult for us to allow such a weekly retreat from life. Maybe we fear what others will think… “Ugh, you’re being SO legalistic!” or we fear of missing out… “But it’s the CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!!!” And then for others, we fear of what might happen if we take a break. We have a feeling that we are being irresponsible or that the tasks we should be doing are more important than taking time to delight in God. You know, because surely the world will fall apart if we don’t attend every family function and every soccer game. Guilty? I know I am. I mean, really, I think I’m guilty of all of those things at different times. It’s hard to live counter-culturally.

But I’m going to try. I’m going to rest from Saturday evening until Sunday evening each week. I’m going to take bubble baths and journal and take my son on nature walks. We’re going to delight in the goodness of God for a whole day! I won’t do housework or any other household duties. We’ll make a special meal and thank God for providing it. We won’t buy or sell anything as an act of defiance against the lies of consumerism.

You know what else we won’t do? Worry. That will probably be the most difficult one for me. But for one day, I am going to release my worries and cares to God. Now, I realize this is something that I could do every day but I’m going to start with one day per week. Although, I’m not just talking about normal worries, I’m also including planning or just thinking about the future. It will be a day to just be present in the now.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic?? I think it sounds like a dream. I hope we can make it a reality. I know it won’t be easy.

I am so desperate to replenish myself with those things that refresh my mind, body, and spirit. Barton suggests that we “be as intentional about protecting it as we can be, but do not become rigid or legalistic about it, which ruins the spirit of the day.” Again, this won’t be easy, but I will do my best. In my experience, I usually need to start-out really extreme with something and then scale back as needed. The hardest thing of this of course is just the logistics… Is it possible to have my Sabbath on Sunday? I serve on Sunday (ok, one Sunday per month) and people schedule bbq’s and stuff all the time on Sundays (ok, like that happened once a couple of weeks ago I think). Obviously, there will never be one perfect day. I guess that’s the point. We have to make the time. We have to fight for it. Sometimes, we’ll make exceptions for good reason but I think I’ll be bummed when I have to do that.

 

Sooo… those are my thoughts,  I’m curious and eager to hear what any of you do for the Sabbath. Please share your practices and thoughts!

 

 

 

Crunchy Confessions

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So I just took a “How Crunchy Are You?” quiz from Mama Natural and I am disappointed to report that this was my result:

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Ouch.

I mean come on, I’ve been “Kinda Crunchy” for almost two years now and I haven’t even made it past “Newbie” status?? I’m sad.

Buuuuut…. Reality is, I have some crunchy confessions to make.

If something is on sale and I mean, it’s like a really good deal, I’ll buy it even if it’s not organic. UNLESS it’s in the dirty dozen… but usually, I just can’t pass up a really good deal, it’s torture. This goes for pretty much anything, not just produce. I’ll buy the super soft non-recycled toilet paper. I do feel kind of bad about that, but it’s so soft.

And as for beauty products… Oy. I’ve tried to convert to the all-natural, all-organic stuff but it’s either really expensive or it doesn’t work or both. My hair looked like I put mayo in it the last time I used an all natural conditioner. Not cute. Unless you’re married to Oscar Meyer, that’s not going to fly.

Now, in my defense, I have really crunched-up in other ways. My husband can attest to the fact that we’ve had recycled toilet paper (“Why does our tp look like the kind from my Elementary School?”) and I am now a huge fan of essential oils (aka “White Witchcraft”). So while I may not grow my own food and go out in public sans shoes, I think I’ve become a little more than Kinda Crunchy.

What about you? How do you fare on Mama Natural’s quiz?

 

Dear Max, The coolest kid I have ever met…

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Dear Max,

We met at the park today but you may not remember me, I’m just a mom so that’s understandable. I have to tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever forget you. How could I?

You hopped down the sidewalk into the park on your big silver squeaky pogo stick. Your bright red hair bounced with each hop, the look on your face was optimistic. You were confident. You were determined.

When the younger children gawked at you with admiration you excitedly paraded your talent. When they became curious you stopped your hopping and enthusiastically offered them a turn. They were too little but that didn’t matter. You held the pogo stick firmly and helped them step on. You encouraged them with each try. Then, when the questions came, you gladly answered. You patiently explained the mechanism of that pogo stick and they ate up every word you offered.

Then, when hopping was done, you joined the little ones on the playground. Your family was busy practicing baseball with your younger  brother but that didn’t seem to interest you much. Instead, you asked questions and answered them. You didn’t flinch when little 5 year-old Rosalyn asked you what was in your mouth. “It’s a retainer,” you said proudly, “See.” You removed your magical mouthpiece and shared with her the wonderful way that it helps your teeth align. She was quite impressed.

When you got thirsty, you approached my husband and I to ask if we knew where a drinking fountain was. We weren’t sure so we pointed you in a general direction toward the school and wished you luck. Along the way to the fountain you saw some more adults and asked them if they knew for sure where it was. I’ve never seen a kid your age with such confidence to ask unknown adults for help. It didn’t faze you one bit.

Your mom says that you don’t fit in much with kids your age but that you get along great with kids who are older or younger. I think I know why. As another author puts it, you’re a firefly. You shine from within. You don’t fit in with kids your age because you are flying above them. I’m not saying you’re better than them, all I’m saying is that you’re up higher and you can see things they can’t. You can see that there’s joy in helping those who are smaller than you. You can see that adults are a valuable resource. You can see that you are awesome just for being you.

I hope you never stop seeing these things. I hope you continue to fly high and keep your eyes set on what matters. I was honored to meet you today. I was thankful that my son admired you. I wish that you were in our lives regularly so that he could learn more from you. You are a rarity. Please don’t lose your confidence. It’s ok that you don’t throw a baseball like your brother. Anyone can learn to throw better, but the spirit of compassion, wonder and inner-strength that you possess can’t be learned overnight. It’s beautiful.

Thanks for being you, Max. You’re probably the coolest kid I’ve ever met.

See you around,

Luca’s Mom

This isn't Max, but it could be.

This isn’t Max, but it could be.

 

On Being a Good Little Boys and Girls

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When you’re at a restaurant and the only thing you can hear is the screaming child in the booth next to you, what do you think? Do you find yourself annoyed and wondering what the parents are going to do to quiet their child? Do you want them to just remove the child from the restaurant so you can have some peace? Are you hoping that the child is punished for their behavior? Or do you find yourself wishing the parents would just give the kid whatever they want so the screaming will stop?

We’ve all been in situations where kids are acting-out. Whether it be our kids or not, it’s uncomfortable to be around. I’ve been dealing with a lot of tantrums lately. My little toddler is becoming quite vocal about his desires and doesn’t have a whole lot of control over his emotions. It’s tough but I know I’m not the only one. When we go to the park, I often witness tantrums and other “acting-out” behavior. What I find most interesting, is the variation of parental responses.

One time in particular, I began to realize the deep implications of parental response. I heard a story about a little boy who did not want to eat all of the things offered to him for dinner. There was chicken, rice and carrots. He wanted to eat the chicken but refused to eat the others. His parents insisted that he must eat at least one bite of each item. Still, he refused.

I’m not going to go into further detail as to how the parents responded because that doesn’t matter. How would you respond? Would you do whatever you could to obtain obedience? Is that what matters most? That our children are respectful and obedient? Or is it most important for parents to avoid conflict and comply immediately?

If our answer is “yes” to any of those questions, I think we need to seriously consider the implications. How do our expectations of children serve as a metaphor of our expectations for ourselves as children of God? Do we assume that those are God’s expectations of us?

Do we think that God cares most about our obedience? Do we think that God cares most about us being content?

The truth is, it seems that God cares most about having relationship with us. He doesn’t want our blind obedience and He doesn’t want to just make things easy for us all of the time. When we pray, we come to Him with thanksgiving, praise, and repentance. We come to Him with those things because they flow from a love that was birthed out of relationship. Our hearts belong to Him. We respect Him and admire Him because of the love He has shown us.

God is not punitive but He is not permissive. He is the perfect Father. He provides loving discipline through guidance and allows natural consequences. We don’t need to worry about being “good little boys and girls” to receive His love because it isn’t contingent upon our behavior.

Have you really let that sink in? God loves you, even when you act-out. He wants you to bring all of your baggage to Him and let Him love you in the midst of it. This seems like a simple and obvious thing to grasp but I wonder if our view of children might reveal whether or not we have really grasped it. If we have a difficult time showing grace to children, people who haven’t even achieved full brain development yet, how good are we at accepting grace for ourselves as full-grown adults? It’s something to think about.

This post was originally written for RockHarbor Orange. To visit the RHO blog, click here.

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