It’s Not Always Easy to be a Kid

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photo credit: Daddy-David Crying at dinner – Day 331 via photopin (license)

I have gathered, when kids express they feel it can be hard to be a kid, some parents laugh, saying the kids’ feeling is wrong, that what is hard is being an adult and having to work and pay a mortgage, to earn money to care for and provide for kids who would turn and complain about their lot in lives.

Certainly, children know little of the problems of adulthood. There’s the exertions of work, the stress of finances, and the time consuming tasks of raising children. There’s the emotional stresses of wondering whether our life has really mattered, if we’ve made the right choices, and what type of world we’ll leave to our children.

We may find ourselves looking out on a summer day which we’re about to spend doing thankless office work or thankless housework and remember those summer days that were as free as rain water when we could do most anything we wanted. When we could sleep until 9 in the morning or later and then run until the sun went down, with almost boundless energy. What energy we often have is drained in drudgery spent at work and at home for kids who complain about their lot in life.

There’s something to be said for gratitude. Modern middle class American children need to learn it. If they were born another time or in another country, their lives would not be spent playing video games or demanding cell phones. They’d be spent working in the field or in some sweatshop. Their country and their parents have afforded them a great deal of opportunity.

Rather than blaming the children for feeling their lives are hard, let’s graciously remember two things. They typically lack the perspective on life needed to realize how easy they have it compared to past generations of kids and kids of lesser economic situations. They are also not capable of commiserating with the challenges of adult life. They’ve never been adults. But adults are capable of taking off their rose colored glasses and remembering what it was like to be children–what it was really like.

In addition, beyond the confines of the safe home you raise your well-adjusted family in, the sad reality is many children are suffering greatly in situations bad beyond our comprehension. Kids are easy to abuse in the most vile ways imaginable by adults. Kids from abusive and otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds can be easy prey for bullies. Kids suffer from hunger, starvation, discrimination, and poverty in every corner of the United States and even more so around the world.

Yet even kids in far better circumstances lack control. The biggest things that kids can’t control is who conceives them and who parents them. While there are now designer parents, children will never get to have designer parents. An infant doesn’t get to request an emotionally supportive father, a mother who will encourage her interest in sports, or a parent who will sacrifice part of her career to stay home with her and any siblings she has. They don’t get to choose if they’ll have a parent who will read to them.

Birth parents begin making decisions for a child before he’s even born by the birth mother’s habits during pregnancy and how she takes care of herself and then during the developmental years. Decisions are made about exposure to media and stimuli that will set the course for the rest of their lives.

Kids don’t get to choose their economic strata or what type of schools they’ll be able to attend. They don’t get to decide whether their parents will be dedicated to making their marriage and family work. They don’t get to decide how much exercise they’ll get in early life or whether their food will be healthy. They don’t get to decide whether the parents will make decisions that are far beyond their ability to understand: whether they’ll receive religious instruction or how it is given if it is.

Kids suffer all the time due to parental unwise decisions made as a result of a lack of knowledge of their unique kids’ unique needs and how to meet them while emotions like pride, fear, and shame keep the parents from seeking professional help. Parents can allow kids to do whatever they want, only for the children to suffer later because the parents didn’t consistently say no to something harmful.

Some types of short term pain produce long term benefits. Parental-induced boredom may be meant to prepare children for the fact life isn’t a non-stop party of fun. Limiting junk food and screen time may produce healthy bodies when they’re older. Yet, such reasoning is beyond a child’s comprehension.

From a child’s own, limited perspective, it is indeed hard to be a kid. After all, even as adults, Christians are still children in relation to God. We don’t get to decide his Word or His Commandments, His Ways are often beyond our comprehension. And, if we are truly submitted, then we are not in control, He is. And at times, we don’t understand, and get very frustrated at how hard this foreign way to live is.

If it is hard, at times, to be a child in the hands of a God who loves us, how much harder is it to be a child helplessly in the hands of well-intentioned but flawed human beings?

[tweetthis]It’s Not Always Easy to be a Kid guest post by Adam Graham @idahoguy[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]If it can be hard to be a child of a perfect, loving God, how much harder is it to be a child of flawed humans?[/tweetthis]

 

 

Enough

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For Christian women who struggle with feeling like we’re not enough. Warning: I cried.

Are you enough? With God, you don’t have to be. He has enough. His love can make you enough.

The poised, young professional woman in white came boldly before the throne of God, dragging alongside her a battered, bruised little girl in filthy rags. “Lord, I’m surrendering this to you, my broken, wounded heart. I caught her running away from you and thinking wrong things again, so I’ve taken her captive, brought her back, and am presenting her to you again. I know she’s not much, but she’s all I have to offer, and I trust by faith she is enough. I have so much to do for you, and so little time, so I won’t keep you long. Amen.”

With that, the professional adult scurried away to get about the Father’s business.

The wounded child curled up on the floor in the fetal position, trembling, and sobbed. “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

The Son knelt before the terrified little thing and caught her tears in a bottle.

The girl shirked back. “Why are you collecting those? Aren’t my tears bad? Don’t you already have plenty of evidence of how bad I am? Who is she kidding? I’m not enough. I’m a worthless thing trampled on, not a valuable treasure worthy of belonging to the king. I can never live up to her expectations, or the expectations of others. She dumps me here with you so she doesn’t have to deal with my brokenness. All I do is get in the way and make trouble. If I’m not enough for flawed humans, how can I ever be enough for a holy God?”

“This is how.” Compassion in his eyes, the Son showed the wounded child his nail-pierced hands, spread open wide. “This is enough. Your value is not based on works or on the approval of men. What I paid for you is what you’re worth. How much is my blood worth?”

“It’s priceless.”

The Son hugged her. “You are my priceless treasure. You shall be a royal diadem in the hand of the Lord. You are accepted, and you are loved, simply because you are my child.”

He scooped her up and carried her toward an incomprehensibly vast, wide, deep pool full of liquid red love.

Give Daddy Your Fake Pearls

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If you haven’t read the modern parable the title alludes to, it’s here: What Are You Hanging Onto?

Would you ever look at a sobbing child who is being bullied at school and yell at her for crying, telling her that’s why no one likes her? Would you ever say those words to a child you love dearly and have authority over? A child who respects you and looks to you for guidance, protection, and comfort?

I was that sobbing child. The person who uttered those words never remembers saying and doing such hurtful things, but those words were uttered, for they burned deep into my heart and soul. The message drilled into me repeatedly was if you’re not happy, fake it. If you’re not perfect, fake it. You’re not likable let alone lovable unless you’re happy and have it all together. I tried my best to obey this teaching, but I wasn’t even good enough at faking it. Fake is too contrary to the nature God’s given me.

And I wonder why God saw me as a child forsaken and wrapped his invisible arms around the child I once was and comforted her and loved on her and faithfully there for her through it all. He showed me truth and he showed me mercy. It’s taken God years of showing me loving-kindness to bring me as far as I’ve come. The process has often involved letting enemy assaults bring me to the point of tears, to the point of being so overwhelmed, I can’t hold the pain in anymore and I pour it out before God, often while prostrate, on my knees, or in the fetal position.
That’s when something amazing happens. God sees me at my worst, my ugliest, my most broken and vulnerable. He doesn’t despise me. He doesn’t yell at me. He doesn’t kick me where it will hurt most when I’m already in distress. He is there, quietly listening, quietly hurting with me. Still loving me, still seeing everything good that he can make me into and do through me.

When I feel ugly, God calls me beautiful. When I feel inconsistent, God calls me faithful (to him, he doesn’t pretend I don’t struggle in the flesh.) When I feel unlovable, God calls me beloved. When I feel like a failure, God calls me forgiven. Not only that, he gently encourages me to get up and keep going. We’ll keep working on it together.

God does not play favorites with his children. What he does for me, he’ll do for you, too.

If you’ve been taught to fake it, and are better at it than me, if you ever want the real thing, you need to confess this bad habit to God and learn the right way to take our thoughts captive. The way Christians with dysfunctional backgrounds try to do that only serves to release not only bad thoughts, but negative emotions into the wilds of our subconscious. Instead, stare the tiger in the eye, admit you feel/think it, and give it over to God. Ask God to show you what hides in your heart and get it out in the open between you, where he can begin the work of healing you. Give up your fake joy and fake perfection so he can begin giving you real joy and continue the work he’s begun of truly perfecting you.

Which person do you like more? Someone who seems to always be happy and seems to always have it all together, or someone who is honest, humble, and strong enough to show their weaknesses? While humans do prefer confidence to insecurity and hopeful outlooks to negative outlooks, we prefer humble to prideful and honest to dishonest. Further, the closer we come to perfection, the more painfully aware of our imperfections we are, and fake perfect people rarely are perfect at showing God’s grace. So I suspect most of us in truth stand to be more likable by being real. If nothing else, hiding our struggles denies God glory when Christ brings us through those fires and gives us real peace and true joy.

Have We Downsized God?

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“[The Son] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” — Hebrews 1:3

The son is the light that radiates from God, but God With Us is as identical to the Father as the impression left by a footprint matches the foot or as the finger print matches the finger and its unique grooves. We can trust Jesus to represent the Father perfectly.

So often this world may seem chaotic and broken, spinning out of control. Yet scripture tells us that Christ, the word made flesh himself, is the one supporting the universe, holding it up with the power in his words, a tireless, ceaseless effort if ever there was one.

Yet the God who is with us via the Holy Spirit and the God who is holding the whole universe together on High is also outside of creation, both Father and Son, and seated beside Himself as his own “right hand man”  and served as his own High Priest, making the sacrificial atonement and interceding with himself for his people.

Such wonders of the omnipresent one! What limited mind can fully fathom the infinite God? Any god small enough for us to fully understand within the limits of human reason is too small to be truly God at all. Today, scripture provides us the only valid, trustworthy window into the character and nature of God, but we still see through its glass darkly.

We often become focused on the problem we least are inclined to, my brothers and sisters. If you’re reading this and nodding, you may have more problems with an emotion-based, unreasoning, unthinking faith than with one that applies logic and reason to the scriptures in a way that defines an infinite God according to what is logical and rational in his finite creation, which inevitably will box him in and make your image of God too small to be truly the Lord.

However, you should prayerfully examine yourself if you feel threatened by this and want to object either with a direct attack or by pointing fingers back at the warm-fuzzy, feelings-only church goers who don’t know the Bible well enough to discern whether a popular sound byte is actually sound doctrine.  That error doesn’t excuse the opposite error of being so puffed up with “knowledge,” we unwittingly fall into idolatry ourselves.

Those of us subject to that weakness  typically feel a need to define logically anything and everything so that we fully understand it and it makes rational sense to us. This gives us a sense of security that is really rooted in a desire for control, hence why it can become dangerous when we turn loose on God our particular pet means of analysis. Trusting the Lord and leaning on our own understanding are ages-old sworn enemies.

Lord, am I serving the infinite God and trusting you even if I don’t always understand all your apparent paradoxes, from my finite vantage point, or have I made a smaller idol in your image and likeness, that I can fully comprehend and honestly think is “drawn to scale”? Give me grace to embrace the truly mysterious, courage to intelligently and scripturally seek the answers that can be known from our finite vantage point, and wisdom to discern which is which. Strengthen me to today to cast down any such idols I have erected. Remove the blinders and my need to control, and enable me to trust you when I hear your voice, even if I do not understand your Word. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Help is on the Way

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Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, (Psalm 102:18-21 ESV)

Before you were ever born, before Christ died and the Church was created and became the people of the Kingdom of Heaven, the words of scripture were recorded with you on the heart and mind of our God. From the beginning of time, he knew the horrors awaiting us and willed to save us from the grave. Before we groaned and cried out, he had already heard our cries as we were in the bondage of sin and determined to come and set us free.

So let’s not fear, brothers and sisters, as we groan and hurt and struggle. Let’s not quaver in doubt of whether our Father God cares and wants to hear about our troubles. He knew from the beginning and assured us with words recorded millennia ago that there is one who cares in Heaven and he has willed to bring us through this and deliver us home to His heavenly city and turn our groaning into praise and rejoicing in His name, too.

Thank you, Father, for knowing us from the beginning and willing to save us and bring us safely through this earthly turmoil. I pray we would trust in you and turn our eyes to the heights our help will come from. Grant us boldness to approach your throne and present our hearts to you as they truly are, to allow you to do the redemptive work in us that you have already purposed to do. In Jesus’ name we pray, Lord, amen.