When the Lord God created the cosmos, he placed man as the crown of his creation, made in his image. Man is glorious, but man is also dust. Think of that, we are dirt. I was just out yesterday digging in the dirt. I am still getting it out from under my fingernails. Dirt is not glamorous.
I have been thinking about creation, fall, and redemption. I have been thinking about how that grid shapes parenting.
Here is the first point — in creation we are dust. That means God alone is God, we are dependent creatures. We cannot survive apart from the continuous sustaining work of God. He sustains directly and he sustains through air and water and food.
Not only do we need God and food to exist, we need others. We are finite, limited, and ignorant of many things. God made us to need others.
This is very humbling.
In the fall, however, we threw off the chains of dust. We asserted our god-ness. We were to be like God. We insisted we did not need anything.
I hate weakness and need. I would rather give large sums of money to others in need than ask for a few dollars. I would rather write books full of wisdom than ask for advice.
But in Christ God provides the power to bring us back to our weakness, and blood to remove the judgment we earned for our impudence before God. Christ makes us humble by his humble life and humble death. The humble One died for the proud ones.
So, what does all this have to do with family? and parenting?
It means that I as a parent am weak. I am in way over my head.
The work of procreation, the nurture of a fertilized egg to adult maturity is a work of God. Differentiation of cells, lengthening of bones, neurological and muscular development, the shaping of the brain, puberty and mature physical adulthood, language acquisition, learning — all these are mysterious works of God.
My part as a parent: feed, nurture, love, and discipline, teach and train, explain the Gospel, keep healthy, treat sickness. That’s it. I cannot change the color of my kids hair, give them abilities God has not given them, make them grow faster, or regenerate them.
I find that parents, including myself, act like we have larger part to play. We think that by finding the latest and best methods, the must sure-fire systems of schooling, the most protective oversight — that our kids will turn our bigger, smarter, tougher, better, more godly than others. And all of that sounds to me like self-reliance.
One of the ways I can tell when I am attempting to do what only God can do to discern the presence of anxiety. Yep, anxiety and fear are what happens inside me when I am up against things too wonderful for me. I can;t pull it off — so I am anxious. Anxiety is the laboring of my soul to be more powerful — and failing.
Anxiety in parents shows up in many ways. Control, over-protection, despair, or pride are all marks of the self reliant and anxious parent.
Please do not misunderstand me. God calls us to do our part. And he works through our part. But we are not God. He is.
Parents: you are as weak as your kids. You are just as needy of help as your kids. You are dust. They are dust. As you parent, look to the One who inhabits eternity and lean into him in all those moments of weakness.