It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Too Much? Balance?

Please be patient with me today Dear Reader, I know I've written about my pet peeve before but some things have been stacking up towards needing to write about it again, then my good friend wrote a little something and it got me all charged up. Read this and then come back here for my tirade of agreement!

My friend, her family and mine and a few other friends have heard a lot about how we are being overly protective. We are Christians: Christ followers, God listeners, we do have a big tendency to listen to what God says, in His written word and in personal answer to prayer, over what the world or even well meaning friends have to say. But that doesn't mean that what others say and confront us with doesn't eventually wear on us to the point where we feel we need to speak up.

In the past those speak-up times rarely change the mind of those who have confronted us directly or indirectly through others, mostly because those folks are not you my Dear Reader. But they do have a way of encouraging others and encouraging those of us in our circle of influence. I hope that this is one of those times, for her post was for me, I hope this is for her and our other friends.

Overprotective, and balance, two words that drive me nuts and ones I feel that Christians, Christfollowers, should avoid using. Yes, shout out "balance" to the girl hoicking herself up to walk on the top of the stone wall. Yes, inquire, "Is that balanced?" to the person using a scale to measure an important item. But balance in things of soul building or soul destroying nature? No way. Feed on food in moderation but feed on the things of God 'til you think you'll pop and then some more.

Does God call us to a balance between deceit and honesty? Between thievery and earning your wage? Between preserving life and destroying it? Does He ask for a certain behaviour and then settle on the realization that you just can't make it there?

Over? Can you over do it on prayer? How about kindness? Charity? Peace? Not in your self-preserving vision on life, but with Christ's vision. Did he warn us that we could indeed go too far beyond what the Good Samaritan did? Did he tell us that yes, indeed we could do too good of a job taking care of our elderly parents?

So then Paul was lying when he suggested that we pray unceasingly? To imagine that every word out of our mouth, every thought in our head could become captive to Christ, become a prayer to Him, that would be crazy? Paul was just excited and talking about something no one can do?

I do not believe that a life lived in Christ is a call to a life lived in mediocrity. There was, and is still, nothing mediocre about Christ. Simple yes, mediocre never. There is simply doing what is right and avoiding, so as to not do, what is wrong.

When things seem as if they have gone too far, take a second look. Is it really that a virtue has been taken too far or is it actually a sin dressed up to appear as a virtue.

So when folks say, "oh dear, he is over protective," when they hear about or see a father who locks his children up in the basement, beats them when they go outside without his permission, are they actually seeing protectiveness that has gone too far or are they instead seeing a bully, tyrant, hate filled man? A man who is not attending to the words of Christ? What is really being seen is a self-centered person not a protective person. Over protection is an oxymoron, you can not over protect. If you are actually harming something or someone you can not be said to be protecting that thing. Satan dresses up the road he would rather have us travel with all sorts of baubles and tresses so that we are lured into his life of perpetual lies. Look at what something really is not what he says it is.

When you look at a cold hearted frigid woman and the deprived man she is married to, do you pity him because she is too pure? Too Victorian? You ought to pity him because she is not pure enough, if she were actually pure, and not just self-absorbed and drug away by Satan's lies, she would know that God gave her and her husband an amazing gift to be enjoyed and celebrated, to be honored. But when we constantly tell our unmarried children, "don't do that (sex or anything sexual) because it is naughty or nasty" we are indeed lying to them. Sex is not nasty. Sex outside of marriage is a sin. There is a huge difference. So the poor woman who can't bring herself to have sex with her husband because it is naughty is not being pure, not in any way shape or form.

We call women who behave in this way, who do not care for coming together with their husband, who cringe at the idea of sex, a prude. And while that is correct in the vernacular of the word, what we commonly think of the word meaning, it is actually incorrect. Prude comes from prudefemme, "a worthy or respectable woman". We, through our being drug away from goodness by Satan often begin to use terms in the pejorative when they were never meant to indicate something negative or wrong. We, in our sinfulness, do not like worthy and respectable women, we would rather they take it down a notch and be human like us. So we call them a prude, and soon the word and concept becomes distorted and people use it to describe a person who does not have the proper vision of sex and purity.

You actually cannot be too pure. We can speak of gold as being ninety percent pure because it has impurities, because things that are not gold are in it, but it can never be a hundred and four percent pure. Purity can not be over the top.

And so while it may be advantageous for a ring to not be pure gold, to have a certain level of impurity in it so that it can hold up to daily wearing, we stop our analogy at this point because we are speaking of the Christ-like nature that we are to take on. "Follow me as I follow Christ," Paul says. He does not equivocate on this, he does not hold out a here or there where you might not want to follow Christ as he does or where he himself ain't going because it is too Christ-like.

Come on. Can you really take a virtue, a character of God, too far, be too kind, too forgiving, too loving. too faith-filled? Really, is that your answer? Because if you answered "yes, you can be too much of these things" and cite times when perhaps you were taken advantage of, over looked because you were too humble, then I gotta ask, in whose estimation are you looking at that with? Christ's or man's self-preservation?

Can you take something He, God, asks you to do too far? Can you be too repentant for your sins and evil thoughts? Can you listen to the Holy Spirit too much? Or would he just have too much to say to you, ask too many things of you, ask you to do something he knows you cannot do even though you lean on the strength of Christ to do it?

God calls me as a parent, well he calls all parents actually, but yes, I can really actually only speak for myself and demand a certain level of obedience from myself, He calls me to protect my children. That is my job as a parent. That is my only job actually, all else falls under love and then protect. Education protects from abuse and exploitation, training in skill and attitude for work protects from poverty and freeloading.

But shielding from the world, protecting from sin, it keeps my children's hearts for God's work, it lessens the footholds for Satan in their lives, it bends them more God's way and less Self's way, self absorption.

What is my scripture for that? I immediately want to say, there are so many scriptures, from the beginning to the end of the whole of the Bible, that build my understanding of what my job as a parent is that I am at a loss as to which one to cite. Then there is this good one here that speaks of this and this one here that speaks of that, really we could go on forever. But now I have gotten a tap on the shoulder and I know that there is a verse I can cite that goes to the heart of our call, Dirt's and mine, as parents. It is one verse really but it is in three of the gospels and it is Christ's very own words, often found in red:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!" Matthew 18:6-7

"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. " Mark 9:42

Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves." Luke 17:1-2

Some version say be careful. Can you be too careful? Read those verses again, can you be too careful? Really? Care to drown?

I protect ultimately because I love, not because I fear. To acknowledge that Satan is outside our doors, prowling, waiting for his chance to devour and destroy us, is not the same as being in fear, paralysing, poor reaction causing, fear.

Fear and panic are not emotions that bring about care or careful ways. They are in fact ungodly. But often we go to fear and panic after something has happened. Satan has gotten inside our lives perhaps because we have not been previously careful. We have not been filled with care and attentiveness, something has now gone a wry and we panic out of fear of more things going a wry. This is not how we are to behave, we are to at first be care-filled, that when things go wrong around us we do not compound them with our panic and fear.

Misery loves company the old adage goes, the Biblical concept of that would be a little leavening ferments the whole. Do you tell me I am too over-protective because it is too much trouble for you too be likewise with your child and therefore you want me to parent like you do? Is it really my best interest you have at heart or do you just want your whining child off your back? You want to give in, but you want company in your misery and so you ask, beg and then criticize when my child doesn't get to accompany yours to the mall to hang out, or on a road trip with friends, or to a nice little college to find themselves? Or maybe you would just like my child to date a little so that you don't have to wonder if your kid could have actually found a spouse without having to get pregnant first?

We as a society, including Christians, spend the majority of our children's early years, and a boat load of our money on a career for them that may or may not last about thirty years (and in some cases never get off the ground) yet we spend little time or resources preparing, preserving them for a daily relationship that is to last "until death us do part" not to mention the relationship that will last an eternity.

Bible verse? How 'bout a whole chapter, Genesis 34, a great illustration of where neglectful parenting can lead. This chapter spoke loudly to Dirt and I as we began to take seriously the great honor it was to raise four daughters for God. Not only does it show what can happen to a good girl when she is allowed to hang out with just the women folk in the market place, but it shows that neglectful parenting not only can have consequences for your very own family but many people can be greatly effected. A great many people can be affected by the nonchalant cultural choices we often make with no regard to what God's word may actually say on the topic or where the Holy Spirit could lead you to if you were to only listen first then act, instead of acting first and then listening to the correction through ill consequences.

We are not saying we have done everything right, that we have been as protective as we should have been. We are not saying that we are not the cause of some of our children's sin. We indeed are and for that we ask them and God for forgiveness, and we pray that we are able to find the right road again. But please, do not then ask us to be less careful with their lives, their very souls. Stop telling us not to parent as God has called us to.


Daisy said...

Very well said, Lanny. Someone once told me I was being overprotective with my kids. I told them they were precious gifts to me, and of course I am going to protect them all that I can. It seems a betrayal of trust if I don't.

Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

thank you, Lanny. that is some "food for thought".

I really struggle with this because of the fact that my children are in public school. My back is against the wall sometimes.
Prayer. God's protection for them when they are out of my hands. His shield of love. his breastplate of righteousness.
These are all things that i have to have faith in.

I appreciate your honesty and the heartfelt way you desire to follow God's calling for your family.
thanks for always giving me something to pray about and think on.

Have a wonderful day!

A. Joy said...

Always enjoy hearing your thoughts on this and I must add - we plan on raising our boys the same as we raise our girls! Some think that would be absurd because afterall " boys can't get pregnant." Ugh - I'm so sick of that way of thinking. My words to my kids " Do what God says because He said it - no matter what. " Thankfully, some of our children's closest friends are you and yours which helps out with the encouragement part. =)Always a breath of fresh air when you're able to hang out with like minded people!