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It’s Not About Us

I’ve been pondering I Corinthians 13:4-8 for some months, especially as it concerns parenting:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Last night, what really stood out to me was that in this description of love, there is no sense of “my rights as a parent.” Instead, this kind of love chooses to be patient and kind in the midst of provocation; it doesn’t dishonor or demean or disrespect; it doesn’t demand it’s own desire but, rather, chooses to give to the other; it doesn’t let anger spew out over another, and it doesn’t recite their list of failings; love protects, love has an attitude of trust, love always hopes the best, love chooses to keep loving; love never fails.

In our culture, things don’t look like that, do they? When it comes to parenting, here are examples that can be seen everyday (in the park, in the supermarket, in the restaurant, even in the church):

  • impatience when a child is slowing us down;
  • harsh words when we’re frustrated by a child;
  • doing what we want even if that is not best for the child;
  • using our position of authority to tell a child just how bad they are;
  • treating a child with an attitude of suspicion;
  • always believing the worst of a child;
  • viewing a child as the problem, the hindrance, the burden.

What is the outcome of this approach? Obviously, that child will struggle to flourish or thrive, the seed of who they were designed to be will find it far more difficult to blossom out into a loving, healthy, functional adult—apart from the redeeming mercy and grace of God.

But, if we choose to parent from the counter-cultural I Corinthians 13 approach, what kind of outcome is possible? There are no guarantees in parenting, but when a child is raised with kindness, they learn to be kind. When they are raised with forgiveness, they learn to forgive. When they are protected, they learn to be protectors of the weak and innocent. And, most importantly, when they are loved with a self-sacrificing, compassionate love, they have a human example of a Loving God.

Remember, stay relational.

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