losing.

I had an experience recently that really got me to thinking about what it means to have authentic dialogue. It seems that in today’s climate, many people feel led to share their thoughts with zeal; quantifying their opinions based on personal experience or on the information that they have read which validates their perspective. Often lacking, however, is the heart which chooses to hear the same of another.

While it is extremely valuable to have a solid foundation to your belief system, I would submit to you that it’s also worthwhile to have an open heart to new information. If our foundation is solid, it won’t be shaken, but should be strengthened as we learn and grow.

Interestingly, in this particular exchange, everyone agreed with the initial position, most responding with accusations of ignorance and political rhetoric, towards those of having a different position. Two people, myself included, shared personal experience and a more diplomatic point of view. (I do tend to be Switzerland by personality). In the end, the author disagreed with both the personal and medical experience shared by those proposing a different perspective (not arguing they were wrong, but merely expressing a lived experience).

Even though I still landed where they felt I should have, because I took a different route to get there, I was still wrong.

While I would love to tell you all the ways that such a situation disturbs me personally, I am wondering (because I have done it myself as well), what such a positioning does to the person holding strong to their unwillingness to open up their minds or hearts to new information that might stir some recalibration. As diverse as humans are, our God even more so, it is no small truth that every one of us has an individual journey to follow. To deny there might be more than one way to get to our destination is a serious misnomer.

The bible gives us a little view into how we can, and should, try to relate to one another, and to what He is doing in our lives. Just as we each have different personalities, tendencies, life experience, filters, sensitivities, weaknesses, strengths, preferences … So does God meet us right where we are; equipping us for what we, as individuals, need.

All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. – 1 Corinthians 10:23

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-4   

…to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion. – 1 Corinthians 16:16

Respect, honor, and authentic community, begins with the understanding that 1. we are all intertwined, 2. everyone has something they can contribute, 3. there is often more than one way to arrive at an end goal. Effective communication, and growth, begins with the understanding that none of us has arrived, and that spirituality, life experience, and science can all work well together when we choose to work together.

Life is better collectively.

Wherever you find yourself today, consider the cost of refusing to listen. The only person truly losing, is you.

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expiration date – parenting 101

In my quiet time this morning I landed in the 19th chapter of Proverbs. Some people love Psalms for the encouragement – and I do too, but being a lover of wisdom, principles and order, Proverbs is my go-to for daily direction.

Today I read something I had never seen before;

Chasten thy son while there is still hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if though deliver him, yet thou must do it again. Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. – Proverbs 19:18-20

Before I had children I thought the belief of us being born with a sin nature was so judgmental, completely outdated and absolutely wrong. How could a precious, innocent, newborn human possibly be capable of sin??

Then reality set in.

I was in a conversation once when a woman corrected me as I was sharing a story about my own parenting experience, letting me know that her son’s psychiatrist had told her that the part of the brain which regulates empathy isn’t fully developed until adulthood. Her argument was essentially that he would eventually just grow into being empathetic.

No. Our children don’t learn to be viable contributors to society merely by osmosis or natural process. They need to be taught, guided, molded.

Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life. – Proverbs 22:6

I love the affirmation found in these scriptures as they communicate some extraordinarily valuable truths about parenting.

  1. “While there is hope” implies that there is an expiration date to our children learning how to do relationship/life well. Consistent and intentional parenting is a priority.
  2. “Chasten they son” reminds us that we have a job to do. (No osmosis).
  3. One version says “Discipline your son while there is hope,
    And do not desire his death.” We are talking about life long trials for our kids who aren’t trained up well.
  4. You are their parent, not their friend. They have lots of friends but only one God-ordained parent. The Message says, “Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.”
  5. If they are happy with you all the time, you aren’t doing it right. Do not be deterred by crying, complaining or retraction of love from them.
  6. If we don’t train them out of self-indulgence, selfishness, fits of emotions or deceit, they will experience much greater consequences as adults (and we get to enjoy them, too!). The Passion Version states Proverbs 19:20 as “A hot-tempered man has to pay the price for his anger. If you bail him out once, you’ll do it a dozen times.”
  7. Parenting with intentionality and long-term perspective is vital.

When my oldest was a toddler, I expected first time obedience and there was a consequence whenever he didn’t. The rule was if he heard my voice, he stopped whatever he was doing immediately and turn to me. A friend mentioned once (or twice…) how strict I was, but I was undaunted. I always told him that as he got older, it would be important he learn how to obey those trusted with leadership in his life.

One day he went running after a ball towards the street. I shouted his name and he froze. Right there on the curb, inches from his precious ball. And, just a few feet from an oncoming car. My friend, whose child was often found in the street or being chased down the sidewalk, marveled at how obedient he was.

Obedience is taught, not hoped, into existence.

As my children got older, we talked about how when we learn to obey those we trust, we learn how to obey God. Learning to know His voice, how to stop when He warns us of danger, and how to trust that He has our best interest at heart, is something that starts when we are tiny.

I am confident many of you can attest to the fact that the later in life we learn lessons, the harder it is to turn and live them.

To the mamas who are tired of using the same words, and the dads feeling burned out teaching the old familiar lessons, do not weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). There is no greater seed to be sown than training up your precious gift from God. One day you will see the glory of the Lord shining on your child’s face and you will know …