Family as an Idol, Part Two

I start today reminding you to PLEASE be sure you read the comments in these discussions.  There is so much wisdom there – and if you just read my words, you’re getting cheated.  (Ask for your money back!!)

If you’re just joining into the fray, here is a link to the article we’re discussing.  Read it at your own risk.  The writer of this blog holds no responsibility for any pain that it may cause your toes.  If you walk away with bloodied toes, you’re on your own – because I’m still dealing with my own! (You know, of course, that I don’t believe we’re on our own in dealing with this!)

Yesterday I confessed my inability to delineate between training children to consider others more important than themselves and holding family up as an idol.  I prayed about it all day long – and Molly, Apple and Shannon offered some pretty intense commentary in the comments (natch) When Jeff came home last night, he then said to me, “Oh hey – I forgot to share with you what Tom talked about last night that I appreciated so much.  He said that when our children are between the ages of 2 through 6, we teach them obedience, when they are 6 – 12 we teach them to honor us, when they are 12 we work on teaching them to love others.”  I thought, “Thank you Lord for making it so clear.” Yes, I can (and will!) talk to my children about considering others, but until they are 12 it really shouldn’t be an issue.  So watch out DLittleWoman 1, Orc_Exterminator and BondServant – you’re all on my list now!!!!!

Back to our regularly scheduled bludgeoning…I mean blogging.  Family as an idol. Here is a quote that ought to leave you choking on your morning cuppa:

A great problem with idolatry is that idols require sacrifice, and we end up sacrificing relationship with our children for the idol of the family. When we elevate the image of the family, we effectively trade our children’s hearts for our reputation.”I tell you, this gives me more than one moments pause.  I can think of times I have done just this.  If only someone had loved me enough to use these very words on me, I would have stopped a lot sooner.  I DO know that this is part of what the Lord was after in our lives when He started us on the path of training our children by grace, rather than the Law.

“Many homeschool parents look at the choices made by their teen and adult children and live under a cloud of failure and resentment.”

I have to wonder, if these same parents had personal friends who were making choices that they considered to be poor, would they deal with the same measure of failure and resentment?  Once again, we tie our poor children in knots with our own expectations. I do have to laugh, though, when I read this because I think of how many, many times I heard my mom say, “If they turn out well, I don’t take the credit, if they turn out louses, I don’t take the blame.”  You know, we were all “pretty good” kids (for whatever that’s worth), I have to wonder if those words would have been quite so easy, if we really had turned out to be louses. (lice? Would that have made us Rice Lice??!!)

The next statement is one that has affected me profoundly since reading it.  I knew it…I think…but it was very powerful to read it and chew on it.

“In the Christian life it is important to understand that our highest success is not measured by the effect we have upon others, but strictly by our obedience to God.”  “Obedience IS the highest success!”

WHOA! That rawwwther kicks legalism right straight in the teeth, doesn’t it?  How can we garb ourselves in the robes of self accomplishment, assuming we are pleasing the Lord, when He is after a submitted and willing heart?  I will refrain from jumping up and down and applying neon signs to the fact that it says ‘obedience to God” – NOT to man’s expectations.  Or worse yet, MY expectations of myself:

 “Thou shalt be a mother like no other (well, that’s doable, but not necessarily a good thing) thou shalt never leave dishes in the sink nor clothes in the dryer over night.  Thou shalt keep all dust bunnies from accumulating under the center for entertaining.  Thou shalt keep thy desk top from the clutter and chaos of daily life. Thou shalt keep all thy children properly attired.  They shalt only wear clothing with the right labels in them and those clothes shalt only be gathered from the sales of garage owners and those who have shops of thrift.  Thou shalt only spend $4 per outfit, no more, no less.  See that thou doest all these things and the jewels of thy crown shall be many. (And should thou, in the midst of this, keepest thyself at the proper weight, with thy hair properly coiffed and thy face properly adorned with cosmetics, thy shall also receive unto thee a banner, which thou shalt wear across thy body proclaiming that thou art “Woman of Proverbs 31″ upon thy ascension into the heavenly realm.)”

Ahhhhh, we then come to the discussion of prodigal children.  Silly us to read the story and miss the point that the whole story is really about the Father.  We have been taught – I have even done the teaching – that this is a story about the consequences of sin in foolish children.  (Of which I am one) When, in fact, this is the faithful father’s story – waiting for his children to return.  What a picture it provides us of what should be the state of our hearts….poised, in prayer, waiting to rejoice and celebrate when they return.  There is no  sitting around wallowing in guilt, condemnation and resentment. 

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak as it were, utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
                                                                            I Peter 4: 8 -11

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