One of the many things my mother passed on to me was a love of learning! I have not always understood her intense desire to pursue a greater degree of formal education but to be perfectly honest the desire to gain a deeper amount of knowledge is something I CAN completely understand. I have completed a university degree and although I do not have a deep yearning to go back to school for a masters or doctorate or anything of that nature, I do thoroughly enjoy the classroom setting and the interaction that leads to an “a-ha” moment. Over the last few months I’ve considered the fact that one day soon I will have to return to school in order to finish my formal education to become a teacher but in the meantime I need to find ways to occupy my more “intellectual” side that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
My thoughts were to combine that desire to learn, become better at the job I am doing now and a better parent into one effort. So on a quiet afternoon last week I headed to House of James, our local Christian bookstore, and began searching through their non-fiction section on parenting. I was looking for a particular book my good friend, Heather, suggested but came across a book entitled, “‘Parenting is your Highest Calling’ and 8 other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt” by Leslie Leyland Fields. The title immediately caught my attention and my first reaction really was more along the lines of what the heck is a book like this doing in House of James…of course parenting is one of the highest callings! But the rest of the title intrigued me and got me wondering what incites this author might have regarding parenting.
The first chapter of the book is “Parenting doesn’t have to be this hard”! She talks about how we so often feel like failures, particularly moms, because parenting seems so difficult and the assumption that if it feels difficult we must be doing it wrong. The first challenge that is stewing in my brain right now is this, “pretending that parenting is easy diminishes the value of family. As truth seekers and truth speakers, we need to be honest about the cost of parenting…Yet not many of us have examined our own parenting assumptions and expectations, holding them up to the unsparing light of the Scriptures.” I thought about that for a day or two, pondering what exactly we have done as Christian parents and I know my personal response affirms her point. I have discussed, vented, prayed, and every other possible action aside from examining them next to scripture. I have held to the cultural notion that parenting should be easy IF I am doing it right.
The second challenge is even more revolutionary in my mind. I’ve always just assumed that God is a happy, loving, sacrificial parent figure and to that degree of joy, love and happiness is what I must aspire. However, Fields challenges that notion through scriptural reference…”we seldom see God as a happy, blithe parent. We see instead God hungering for more…God reveals himself as a hurting and tender Father who longs for a deeper relationship with his children…We see God allowing his heart to be broken again and again by our failures.” At first I thought really how is that possible for a perfect God to encompass those ideas. Then I began reading the passages she was using as evidence…Exodus 4:22, Malachi 1:6, Isaiah 66:13, Isaiah 65:2. I could identify with the words of truth spoken there. How many times have I already wondered, and will wonder in years to come, where is the honor I would love to see my children afford me and felt like I have held out loving arms to “obstinate” children. A perfect God has felt those things with the people He has created and still feels that in the moments I do not follow His will for my life.
I am eager to continue reading this book and find the truths God will teach me through this but I also want to be a truth seeker and speaker and recognize that this job I have for now is NOT easy. In reality it’s very difficult and comes with many sorrows, tears, anger and frustration but isn’t the truth in this particular chapter that light is always so much more comforting and appreciated when it comes at the end of dark tunnel. My comfort lies in the fact that THE LIGHT has and continues to experience my journey but illuminates the path before me so perhaps I might learn from His example.