Kids need roots. And wings

Before kids I remember watching other parents indulge their children’s incessant desire for Band-aids. I remember thinking:

“Why don’t you just tell your kid there’s no boo boo, no need for a Band-aid, and it’s wasteful to use one (or ten) when they’re not needed.”

Now that I have a 2 year old, I currently think:

“Sure, have a Bandaid. Have 20. Put them on me, your baby brother, your face, the shower door. In fact, perform heart surgery if you’d like as long as you give me 5 minutes to eat my scrambled eggs.”

Back to roots and wings.

Sweet Home Alabama is a ridiculous movie. McDreamy. Reese Witherspoon. That scene in Tiffany’s. It is pure Hallmark-esque fantasy.  But I love it and justify my obsessive TV and movie habits by the deep spiritual truths I find therein 🙂

This “roots and wings” thing from the movie has stuck with me through the years. Because whether it’s seeing MJ off to preschool or prepping Pheebs for college I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a parent.

And I don’t just mean the legal piece of paper that says “I’m now responsible for every wonderful and stupid thing you do”, I mean the emotional process of investing yourself in someone you love only to see them take flight on their own. On a Homecoming Wizard of Oz float 🙂

Of not just giving them life (for biological children) but teaching them how to live (for adopted children).

As a parent, we’re doing our job well when we work ourselves out of this job.

We are “feeding them so they can one day feed themselves, we’re teaching them in order that they may no longer need our teaching” (C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves).

And it’s easy, with so much wrapped up in our children, so much feeding and teaching required, to idolize and deify them.  

But what I’ve seen and experienced myself is that worshipping our children leads us to either indulge them or, on the other extreme, to “helicopter” them.

Keller lays out this spiritual and psychological phenomenon in Counterfeit Gods:

“Everyone has to live for something, and if that something is not God {children}, then we are driven by that thing we love – by overwork to achieve it, by inordinate fear if it is threatened, deep anger if its being blocked and inconsolable despair if its lost.”

Our kids (or spouse, or job, or financial security or physical beauty or need to have it all together) can’t be on the throne. They have a an important place in our lives but not the only one.

So in order to let go and let God, we need to have our heart in the right place, sacrificially pouring into our kiddos and yet holding onto them loosely in the process.

This is hard.

The other pondering thought of my week is what to do about politics. Cause a guy named Rambo is running for judge here in Chagrin and every time I see his sign, I’m picturing Sylvester Stallone with a gavel. 

Politics is everywhere right now. And as a veritable news junkie, I’ve watched the Kavanaugh hearings and read every Op-ed page in every left wing and right wing paper known to man the past few days while E.B. nurses to develop yet a few more fat rolls.

Love those fat rolls…and all I can think about is how politics is a total grandstanding circus.

I love circuses. So does Queen Latifah:

Which is why I was struck by Tim Keller’s New York Times Op-ed on how we, as believers, should handle the circus in Washington.

If you read anything by Tim, you know that he always takes the middle, reasoned approach.  He’s always advising we “live out the tension” of extremes and inhabit that hard place – the “gray” one, achieved at only through wisdom and prayer.

He doesn’t give pat answers unless there’s a pat one to be found in Scripture. So here’s what he says:

“The Bible shows believers as holding important posts in pagan governments — think of Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament. Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors, whether they believe as we do or not. To work for better public schools or for a justice system not weighted against the poor or to end racial segregation requires political engagement. Christians have done these things in the past and should continue to do so.

Nevertheless, while believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.”

To paraphrase, we should be in the political fray but carefully, seeing the wide spectrum of political views people who love God can hold.

Reading Tim’s piece reminds me that the song doesn’t go “May they know we are Christians by our political affiliation or policy triumph” but “may they know we are Christians by our love

If love comes first, our political tone, approach, and effort will be fair, done with excellence, and rightly ordered. With love coming first.

What is not rightly ordered right now is my pantry.  

Someone, who shall remain nameless (Miss Margaret Joy), has taken it upon herself to helpfully frustrate my system. There is stuff scattered everywhere, including corn, stickers, popcorn, Goldfish, and my Werthers stash (my “grannie candies” as some call them).

Thankfully, God is the author of “order” and not confusion (1 Cor 14:33). And He takes that order into our lives, as chaotic as they may seem.  Chance the Rapper even reminds us that God “orders our step” in his song Blessings, disabusing us of the notion that we’re charting our own path and able to create order out of chaos on our own.

We are not able. We cannot do it.

He can.

So as we’re doing our day, sweeping up Goldfish on our pantry floor, parenting our kids, reading Op-eds about the Senate, and thinking about our role as parents, we do it holding on to “great love.”

Love that offers expensive, not cheap grace, to do it.

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