Keeping the home fires burning or sacrificing to the idol of family???
May I take a moment to say one thing? OUCH.
Molly and 6kidlets touched on this yesterday and I, too, had a bit of a hard time separating the first two factors in my writing (and in my mind.) As I have been chewing on this some (and to be honest, I haven’t just attacked it in my pondering – it’s only had a corner of my mind, albeit a cluttered corner, a corner none the less) I was able to differentiate the idolatry of family from the idea of Self-centered dreams…a little bit.
“Preoccupation with results can turn the family into a measurement of success.”
“…family becomes a badge of honor or trophy to be admired by others or God.”
“When we allow the success of our family to determine our security or sense of well being we are seeking from it something God intends us to receive from Him.”
Those are tough words. They are tough to process and they are tougher to implement. I know them only too well. I grew up in a family that was VERY concerned with how we looked to others. My grandparents more so than anyone else. I remember very clearly being cornered by an uncle who told me I was shaming the family by not completing college. He told me that I was a disappointment to my grandparents and a cause for embarrassment to them in their public circles because of my choice to quit school and get married. Being the gentle submissive child I was (OH BOY) I asked him if it would make them happier for me to continue in college, obtain a degree that I had no intention of using, spending money to gain that degree, only to remain home raising my family. He told me that once I got the degree, I would be smart enough to know better than to stay home with my children. By some miracle I remained silent. (Something that happened even less then, than it does now, if you can imagine.)
“And we know we have made our family an idol when we put our hope and trust in it more than in God – we look to IT rather than to God for our identity and significance. And we know we look to our family for our significance when it has the most power to lift us up or to demoralize us. It is most obvious in a public setting when we either glory in our children or become enraged when they embarrass us. Our children are either the source of our pride or our disappointment, depending on whether or not they help us achieve our image of a strong family.”
In addition to the familial influence…and that would include my Great Grandpa and Grandma Gardener (You know – Gpa Adam and Gma Eve??) – I personally find this part of the discussion to be VERY hard. I do not want to make excuses for the idols in my heart, for I fear they are many, BUT I do want to understand the issue of honor and it’s place – or lack thereof – here. Biblically, we’re called to honor one another. We’re called to consider others more important than ourselves. Where is the line between idolatry and honor?
There is no doubt that anyone with more than 3 children undergoes a greater measure of censure and scrutiny while out in public. We have seen that. We have experienced that. It is very easy to see a child from a large family be an annoyance to someone just because they’re breathing. How do we encourage our children to consider others more important than themselves, while in ANY setting – public or not – and yet allow them to be children…be REAL? Does it involve only my heart response?!!
Please, Molly and 6, help me with this one. I have been the tyrant mother who doesn’t allow their children to step one toe out of line. I have been the ranting lunatic in the car, once we started driving, condemning the behavior of my children in whatever public setting we were in. I do not do that any more. I do not WANT to do that anymore. But, on the same token, I do not want children who are rude and dishonoring to those around them. Where is that line?
For example, (this may be TMI) we just came off a weekend and a few days of “revival,” for lack of a better term. Due to recent changes in our church involvement, my children are unaccustomed to the “normal” church setting. During worship, I had 2 children get up and go to the restroom. Once the sermon started I had 4 others who were in and out, also going to the restroom. Then one of the original two needed to go again, so up she got, which prompted a sibling to think she needed to take her to the bathroom, so there go 2 more children off to the restroom again. I was standing at the back of the sanctuary with General Grumpus, rocking with her, so part way through, a few of the children decided they should come stand by me. Out of the row they climbed. During the closing prayer, 2 more of our children decided that they were going to come join me at the back of the sanctuary, as well.
We had people, with children, who were trying to listen and pay attention sitting behind us. I freely admit, I was frustrated. I was frustrated because my children never once considered those around them. I didn’t (and still don’t) care what the woman, who was heaving sighs, was thinking of ME. I care that my children caused her children to stumble. (and they did – it made her children ask about going to the bathroom over and over.) I care that my children did not think of any one else. Is this idolatry? How do we walk the line between calling our children to honor others by their behavior, without allowing it to slip into idolatry?
I need to stop here for right now. That’s NOT all folks! When I come back, we can talk about the “promise” of Scripture to have perfect children.
(PLEASE feel free to address my sin in the aforementioned example…or any other. I want to be transparent as we process this together. There’s no point in not doing so. Besides, I might be able to hide my sin from you for a little while, but before long it would reveal itself in full array, no doubt.)
Side note: If you have come to read, but not join in the discussion, know that you are MOST welcome, but DON’T skip the comments!! There you are able to read the wisdom of my Sisters and Brothers (HT:otto802) and not be left with just the thoughts dripping out of my fingers!! Also, if you missed the original article – it is a MUST read and can be found here. It was written by Reb Bradley.