Monday, November 3, 2014

Rollercoaster Parent

You’ve been there.
Scrolling through your newsfeed at a particular time of year when Facebook or Instagram is flooded with accolades from report cards, Awards Day, Sports banquets, etc., etc. 
As a parent, we have all posted our kids "wins" at some point- actively or passively. 
And if you haven't, you will.

But there is a hidden side of all this, which none of us ever dare talk about...

You see, I love to see the excellence, hard work, gifts, talents and opportunities applauded…really, I do.
But then, it hits like a leg cramp in the middle of the night. 
I mean it just reaches up and grabs a hold like a crab on a chicken neck: comparison.
"Oh wow. My kid didn’t do that."
"Yikes, is my kid even on grade level in that subject?"
You get the picture.

But why do I care? Why do you care? Why do any of us care?

Because we all like success.
Victory is programmed into the very fabric of our being. 
We are created in the image of a victorious God.
So, naturally, we all want to succeed at this parent thing.

I have never met anyone who has procreated, who- involved in their kids life or not- said, 
“Yeah, I hope my kid is a complete failure. That’d be greeeeaaat.” 
It doesn’t work that way. 
We see them as an extension of ourselves.
And we want that extension to represent us well, don’t we?
I'll be the first with my hand in the air on that one.

But boy, can this can be a dangerous ride.
I'm talking nauseating-where's-the-trashcan-panic-attack-inducing ride. 
The rollercoaster of all rollercoasters...if you let it.

And me? Unfortunately, I'm a annual pass holder. 
I find myself, green in the face, asking, 
"How did I end up on this up-and-down ride as a parent?

No one who has ever been a parent has described it as easy. Ever.
Seriously. It is a tough and unpredictable adventure.
But, contrary to popular opinion, being a parent doesn't have to be a never-ending rollercoaster ride. 

Have you ever seen those warning signs posted outside a rollercoaster? 
It basically lets you know in a nutshell that if you have issues...dude...don't get on...just don't do it. 
But there is always that person who thinks they have to because all their friends are, or they don't believe the warnings...and that usually ends being the person whose vomit you are stepping through later on. 
Gross. Ain't nobody got time for that.

But our pseudo-friend Good Intention coaxes us onward, further into the line. Then Fear shows up, and tells us we better jump on, because our reputation is on the line. And of course, Comparison convinces us there is no other way to exist, so you better just figure out how to ride this ride for the long haul.

So...I'm talking to the queasy parents who one way or another have boarded this rollercoaster and feel like it's the only way to go through this awesome journey called parenting.
I'm talking to those who are already covered in vomit- your own or somebody else's.
I'm talking to those standing at the warning sign, feeling the pressure.
I'm talking to me.
I'm talking to you. 

Here is the real danger we face: 
If I take credit for my kids successes, I will also take credit for their failures.

Let that sink in a second.

If I pat myself on the back-even in secret- for the right choices my children make, then I will beat myself up for the the wrong choices they make.

That is sobering truth. 
Truth I don't want to admit. 

But follow me here...

If I, as a parent, begin to combat that truth with, "But shouldn't I be proud I have trained up my child in the way they should go?"
That same logic as a parent also then leads me to this question at some point: 
"But shouldn't I be condemned because I failed in some area of training my child in the way they should go?" 

Neither are true of you and I as parents, when we are living with the grace of God rushing through our veins.

Here is where we slam the emergency brakes on the rollercoaster and disembark this dizzying ride:
All I truly can do is be obedient to the Holy Spirit guided parenting He has called me to, and then.... 
trust God with the rest.

Releasing our kids doesn't begin at 18; it begins before they take their first breath.
Otherwise, I am subject to the rise and fall of the choices they make.

This is a me-centric attitude toward parenting: wanting them to act a certain way because of how those choices reflect on me.
Me-centric parenting has a desire for the child to succeed that grows from our own busy-ness to make them victorious, rather than from our rest in the already achieved victory of Jesus.

Of course we all want our children to make safe, successful choices- choices that bring them life, health, and happiness...but is that so I can walk with my head held high, or so that Jesus alone can be lifted high? .

Good or bad- we should use it all to point our children, and this world, to the grace of Jesus. 
That is the Jesus-centric parenting we all should strive for as Christ followers.

If I take credit for my child choosing good, then I am belittling the grace of God. 
Even my choices to lead my child well are only possible through grace.
Because only by grace can a sinner make a choice that speaks true life.
When I struggle with Jesus-centric parenting, it's because I am not embracing the fullness of His grace- the all encompassing grace that Jesus gave His life to pour out over mine...and theirs.
It is not about what I can get them to do or not do:
It's about WHO I point them to through it all.

I don't just need grace to be a parent- they need grace to be a son, be a daughter.

I can't forget that they need JESUS above all else- NOT my excellence in parenting.

They need me to be excellent in my pursuit of Jesus above all else.
That is what will transform and empower their life.

When I finally admit my deepest heart motives, and get that it's not ME that they need- it's Jesus in me and through me they need...THAT is when I fulfill my role as a parent the way God intended, and release all delusions about my abilities. 

So here's the truth: 
You DON'T have to get on the ride. 

And here's the warning: 
If you do, it WILL make you sick.

Good intentions may have gotten us on that parent rollercoaster...but only Grace will get us off.

We don't have to be rollercoaster parents.
Somebody throw the kill switch already.

Parent friends, let's choose to put our feet on the solid ground of His grace, and walk forward in faith.

So next time you see me zombie eyed heading toward that me a favor...grab my arm and tell me to run the other direction- straight into the arms of my Father and His never ending grace and love.  

Galatians 3:3- NIV
"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"

James 4:6- AMP
"But He gives us more and more grace..."

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