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Christian Life, Faith, Parenting, Spiritual Growth

you’re not inadequate

September 19, 2016

 

 

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
– Colossians 2:8-10

 

 

This whole parenting thing has left Kelly and I both feeling thoroughly inadequate. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate just how much energy – emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual – it takes to care for a tiny human.

Maybe your thing isn’t parenting at the moment, but I know there are many of you reading that are coming into this new week feeling that kind of inadequacy. You had an exhausting weekend dealing with family stuff that you didn’t want to have to ever deal with. You’re waking up and heading to work with dread, unsure if you’ll make it through the next 8 hours. You feel trapped in a hole of depression and anxiety and feel utterly out of energy to fight.

Whatever it is that has you feeling small and unable to cope this morning, Colossians 2 has important truth for you. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae to remind them of the truth of the Gospel and to exhort them to not get caught up again in worldly thinking – i.e. the “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition” mentioned in the verses above. His remedy to this worldly kind of thinking is a strange one. He declares, “in [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

Christ the fullness

“In Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”. If you’re a Christian, you probably get this statement on some level. Or do you? Have you thought on the massiveness of what Paul is saying here? God – infinite, eternal, omnipotent – somehow got packed inside a body and became a man by the name of Jesus.

When you encounter Jesus you’re not encountering some small portion of God. No, in him the entirety of God resides without limits. That’s amazing. But it gets even more crazy.

Filled in Him

Paul could have stopped and built his argument against worldly thinking simply on the fact that God had become flesh in Christ, but he doesn’t. Instead he goes on and makes what is, in many ways, an even more audacious and wild statement when he writes, “and you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

Catch that? Paul just said that the same Jesus in whom the fullness of God has residence has filled you. You, my friend, have the fullness of God filling you. The one who has all rule and authority and power, the one of whom the angels and elders and all creation declare in Revelation 5, “ Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing,” that one has taken up residence in you.

When that one, the almighty one, has filled you there’s no room for inadequacy. As Paul writes in the following verses to the Colossians, you were dead in your sin but God baptized you into Christ and you now have resurrection life at work in you. You’ve been filled in him in whom all the fullness of deity dwells bodily. The same one who parted the Red Sea for the Isrealites, made blind people see, fed 5000 with a kid’s happy meal, and resurrected himself from the dead is at work in you.

Don’t buy the lie that you’re inadequate and unable to take on what God’s placed in front of you. If you’re in Christ and Christ is in you you have more than enough to endure in joy. My prayer for you and for Kelly and myself today is that we would truly experience the reality that we have indeed “been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” and as we experience that demonstrate to the watching world the beautiful peace and power that is found only in Jesus.

May the Lord make it so, as it already is.

 

 

 

Journal, Life, Parenting

Twelve Things You Don’t Do As a Parent of a One Month Old

August 26, 2016

 

 

Micah’s just over a month old, which means Kelly and I have been practicing this parenting thing for somewhere around 35 days. We’ve learned a lot. Last night as I sloowwwly laid Micah down, praying that the last four hours of trying to getting him to sleep would be over and he would stay asleep, I marvelled at just how many things two people can not get done when you have a baby on your hands. I laughed as I mentally scrolled through our undone to dos. So I made a list. For those who have had kids, you’ll get it. For those who haven’t yet, take note. Get stuff done now. You won’t later

Things you don’t do as a parent of a one month old:

  1. Shower more than once a week
  2. Clean all the dishes
  3. Get out of the house in less than 20 minutes
  4. Sleep for longer than two hours
  5. Have an in-depth conversation
  6. Watch more than half a movie
  7. Have sex
  8. Freak out about being peed on
  9. Write that book you’ve been working on
  10. Get to work early
  11. Fix the laptop that’s been broken for the last month
  12. Cook a full meal

 

Good news though – getting stuff done isn’t what life’s about. Jesus has done more than enough to satisfy any to-do list that we could ever place in front of ourselves, and God’s relational nature declares clearly that there is far more value in pouring love out for another human being while your kitchen counters disappear under dishes and your body odor builds to a crescendo than there is in keeping things spotless.

When you have kids, regardless of their age, they’re going to inconvenience you and force you to change your plans. You’ll probably get less than half of what you wanted to get done done. But what you will get in return is the beauty of shaping a soul that will bring much greater glory to the Lord than any amount of productivity ever could.

That said, I really need a shower.

 

photo credit: Grace Noelle Photo

Journal, Life, Parenting

Parenting and Shrinking Joys

August 18, 2016

 

 

 

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:12-13

 

Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe.
– Chesterton, Orthodoxy

 

It’s been nearly a month since our son Micah was born. Crazy how fast the past few weeks have gone.Leading up to his birth I’d had this expectation of some explosive revelation moment when we first met our boy. I’d heard so frequently that having a kid gives you a deeper understanding of God’s love for us, and apparently I’d figured that realization would come all in a rush there and then when we held him for the first time.

Maybe for some people it does. For me it didn’t. And, in all honesty, the last few weeks really haven’t been particularly enjoyable. Oh, there have been beautiful moments, but the vast majority of our time is spent feeling somewhat inadequate and frustrated as we try to to figure out feeding schedules, how to get a little human to fall asleep, how to do everything one-handed while holding a baby, how to operate on 4 or so hours of sleep a night, etc.

The first weeks of parenting aren’t particularly rewarding on a human level. Oh sure, we’ve got a really cute little human to hold whenever we want to, but all the work that comes with it is just hard. There’s a reason why more and more people are opting to have children later or not at all. It costs a lot, financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I still haven’t had a huge moment of revelation or anything, yet as I sat next to Micah several nights ago watching him sleep, praying over his life to come and that Kelly and I would survive to see it, I realized how much my view of the world had changed and just how good that is.

Things have shrunk. Our joys and pleasures have become much smaller than they were. That may sound like a negative thing, but I don’t think it is.

The world’s expectation

The world tells us that our pleasures should always be increasing in size, scope, and intensity. This year you went on a vacation to Florida for a week. Next year you should take a two week vacation to Hawaii. The relationship you were just in was good, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less than amazing in the next one. We’re trained to be disappointed if our future experiences don’t outdo our past ones.

A prime example of this is seen in the continual increase of large, explosive scenes in the movies that we watch. Contrast the slow, intricate emotional impact of Twelve Angry Men, a film from 1957 that takes place almost completely in one room, with the city-destroying explosions and two-second cuts of the recent Avengers films. We expect the next spectacle to outdo the previous, or we feel disappointed.

The problem with this is that it burns our senses out, increasingly numbing us to the daily pleasures of life. If you’re used to the explosions and constant action, the pace of films from 20 years ago seems lethargic and boring. We build up a resistance to experiences just like we do to drugs or alcohol.

There’s a reason why billionaires still search for satisfaction despite the fact they can buy anything they want.

What these first weeks of parenthood have taught me is that the small joys bring lasting pleasure. The grand, world shaking ones fade away in an instant.

God of the shrinking joys

In stark contrast to the world, God seems to delight in drawing us into smaller and smaller joys so that the grander things seem ever greater. Witness Elijah’s experience of God speaking through the small, still voice rather than the whirlwind. The quiet encounter made the nation-shaping miracles seem all the more powerful.

Whereas previously a great night for Kelly and I was going out to eat, watching a movie, and staying up late it’s now several minutes of quiet with Micah asleep before we go to bed. A weekend trip has been replaced with the smaller joy of two hours out to eat when grandma comes to watch the baby.

Pleasures have shrunk, but not lessened. The things that were becoming for us commonplace are now precious. We are being taught to take joy in small things and as a result the big things become even bigger and more wonderful. As G.K. Chesterton says, it is limitations that make art art, and therefore beautiful.

Don’t buy this world’s demand that you always need more than you currently have. Instead zoom the frame in, shrink your joys into the concentrated power of simple pleasures and learn to delight in the nuances and small gifts that God showers upon us each day. Attempting to constantly increase the grandeur of your pleasures will drain you and leave you empty. Embracing the God of shrinking joys will lead, ultimately, to eternal pleasure and joy.

As I sat there next to Micah’s tiny sleeping form and soaked in the joy of a peaceful moment, two weeks of a thousand frustrating moments melted away. I am, indeed, learning to be content in all circumstances, and in that there is great reward.