Two powerful desires wrestle for dominance in my heart. They compete. They war within. These two base-line points of reference can’t reign simultaneously, and can in no way co-exist as controlling drivers in parenting.
And so begins an inner battle.
One side of the skirmish produces the running monologue in my heart which sounds like this — I want for my children:
- a pain-free life
- to be liked and approved of by all and highly esteemed by their peers
- to never experience the sting of comparison, of jealousy, of rejection
- to discover early what they love and become really good at it (so that they might be admired and secure and never experience failure)
- to never hurt or feel insecure (like I did).
The powerful but
But. But I love Jesus. And so I want my children to follow Him closely and love Him dearly and affect their world (for Him) in profound ways. And because of that very important but, the 1-5 list must die on the battleground of my heart. Instead, as my thinking is righted, I yearn for a new 1-5. I want my children:
- to live by faith, not by sight (what they can earn or get in this world to bolster their own self-interests)
- to faithfully follow King Jesus all the days of their life
- to experience the joy of knowing and trusting God above all other trusts
- to rest in Jesus’ love for them, and know His truth which sets them free
- to live the life of glorious contentment and confidence that comes only from being in God’s presence, now and forevermore.
Last, not first … and then something even tougher
Because I understand that God may know my child must come in last, not first, in order to need Him in life-changing ways. He may have determined before my child was born that the sting of comparison or rejection would drive her to Him. He may know that pain and insecurity and failure will mean he’ll desire Christ above all other earthly gifts. I want my children to hurt, if in the hurting they turn to Jesus.
So my natural desires (the first 1-5 list) must die. But even more than that, if I want my children to be united to Christ, my mama-heart must also embrace this tough truth:
Jesus said, “Those who follow Me will be hated by the world.” (John 15:18-27)
If my children follow Jesus, if they are brought into God’s kingdom by His gracious love and mercy, then this will also be true of my daughters and my son:
… people will call him (her) a bigot and a homophobe. Some will ridicule him as a male chauvinist as they scorn his “sexist” beliefs. He’ll be despised as closed-minded for saying that Jesus Christ is not only God but the only God. He will probably meet a girl who insults his manhood or considers him old fashioned for waiting until marriage to have sex. His peers will think him a prude. Bullies will call him a coward. His integrity will draw insults like “goody two shoes” (I don’t even know what that means).
Teachers will think that my son ignores scientific facts about our origins, prompting his classmates to mark him an idiot. People will tell him he has been led astray by his parents down an ancient path of misguided morality masked as a relationship with God. Financial advisors will think he’s irresponsibly generous. When he takes a stand, there will be those who will not tolerate his intolerance. He will be judged as judgmental. He will have enemies, and I’ll be asking him to love them, and even for that he’ll look foolish…
If you’re like me and hope for your kids to be fully devoted followers of Christ, then we need to be raising up a generation who is ready to be distinctly different from their peers. In a lot of ways, that’s the opposite of my natural inclination in how to raise my son. Raising kids who are ready to be hated means raising kids who unashamedly love God even in the face of loathing and alienation. (Adam Griffin, Raising Kids the World will Hate, Dec. 2012, The Village Church, Flower Mound, TX)
I read those words and bow before the Father with these:
Father, strengthen my own resolve to follow You at any and all costs. Increase my love for you so that my reigning desire is for my children to be Your fully devoted followers. Give me wisdom to see that coming in last (if that trains my child to desire You above all else and works in my child strength of resolve and passionate love for You) is not a moment to be dreaded.
For I do want what You want. I want to raise children who “unashamedly love You even in the face of loathing” or ridicule or rejection.
That’s what I want for my child.
I also highly recommend Jen Wilkin’s piece Otherness.