Oct 4, 2013

Teaching the greatest truth

I asked my kids why they thought were born.  Seriously.
Yep, I went there with an 8 year old and a 6 year old.  I know, I know.  You're thinking, "Geesh.  That Plumb lady doesn't mess around."
And that's true.  It seems kinda deep for just a 4th and 1st grader.  But honestly, it seems to me like a kind of obvious question. Because it seems to me that that question drives everything else that we do and all the fundamental questions of our lives.
So what is the single most important reason for us being born?
Is it to be a good person? Be successful?  And what is successful?  What is good exactly?  Is it to fill a place in this world in a positive way?

Out of the mouths of babes, Ainsley nailed it with her answer.
"That's easy Mommy.  It's because God loves me and wanted my love."

And there you have it.  The reason you and I were born.
Simple. Profound.

You were born because God loves you and desired you.  That's it.  You exist to love Him.  That's it.

Anything else is just, well, extra and unnecessary.
So I've been thinking a lot about how this translates to how I raise my children and how we interact as a family.  Because this simple truth can turn my goals and focus inside out.

It seems to me that I sometimes make rules for the sake of "goodness".  Whatever that is.  But sometimes I want my children to be "good" and somehow that doesn't translate to loving.  It just translates to following some rules and being obedient.  Now I'm not saying that rules and standards aren't important, because they are, but sometimes I feel like I get caught up in teaching my children the "right" way instead of the "loving" way.  It seems to me though, that if I just teach standards and rules, then I am teaching them that following those is what gives my children their value.  Meaning that only if they are "good and obedient" then they have value.  What a false message this is!  When it comes to God, following a set of rules is NOT what brings us our value to Him.  We have value simply because He created us and then He bought us with a price.  A very expensive price.

I've been reading a lot lately in the New Testament.  In fact, I'm doing this class where I have to read all the way through the New Testament in about three months.  It's a lot of reading.  What I keep coming across over and over again is this simple fact that love trumps everything.  It trumps rules and systems, it trumps "should's" and "oughts", it trumps success, and it trumps culture, race, age, and anything else you could tack on to that.  It means taking each moment and looking at another person and meeting their needs and treating them with value.  It means being wise and discerning towards others in the moment.  Quite frankly, you can't always boil this down to a set of rules.  Sometimes it's harder to parent this way because it means discerning and teaching to the heart and seeing each moment as unique.  It means teaching a set of morals and values (which don't change) and applying them to unique situations which do change in a discerning and unselfish way which communicates to the other person that they have value and are loved.

Sometimes I wake up and my heart just seems armed for battle that day.  I trip over toys on the way to the kitchen where I find lazy children lounging around with breakfast cereal all over the floor and their favorite cartoon blasting.  Do you have those days too?
  Hey, I'm not going to tell you that it wouldn't be OK  to say, "Come on guys! Put away the toys!  Clean up, get dressed, TV off."  But I am going to say that you should have probably checked and explained your reasoning ahead of time.   And by checking, I mean your own heart.  
Having a way you do things as a family shows love, value and respect to everyone living in the home as long as those systems are made with serving each other in mind rather than selfish serving of self.   Do these systems show everyone that we value them and their unique personality?  Are we patient and helpful when those systems clash with a personality?  
I kinda have a new rule for myself.  And that new rule is about making house rules.
One: I cannot lay down a new rule or system without first explaining to the kids how this will help the family show each other that we are caring for and valuing each other.  If it doesn't show the family love, and it's only because of my personal preference, the rule has to be discarded.
Two: The rule has to be somewhat flexible.  Rules can be tweaked to fit and changed as we work them.  I realize that you can't keep changing them because that would be confusing to kids.  What I mean is that after doing the rule for a while and I find that it isn't really promoting a loving atmosphere or action towards each other, then a pow-wow needs to happen.  We discuss, "What needs to change about this?  How can we do this different so that we are loving each other in this area?"  But once agreed, we stick to it.  I've found that arguing about it when an infraction incurs usually stems from selfish reasons anyways.  Then we have another pow-wow.  "Hey remember why we are doing this?  Are you thinking about loving the other person right now?"
I'm finding that teaching to the heart is difficult.  Our hearts don't like to be molded.  We resist loving.  We embrace selfishness.  The child that nailed that answer at the beginning of this post really stinks at loving.  In fact, we all do in this family compared to God's love.  But when we catch that glimmer and begin to show it to each other....Wow!  It's transforming and powerful like no other force on earth. Showing love with no strings attached is tough. But more than anything, I want my children to catch this message:
"I love you for who you are, and not the rules you obey or don't obey, and so does God.  You were made because of love, and you were made TO love. If you learn to love, there is nothing else that truly matters."


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