Intense. That’s the word the people used to describe me most often in high school and college. I hated it and still do. While I have been rounded out some over the years, I remain moderately intense (if that’s a thing) much to my chagrin.
Intense because I swing like a pendulum, intense because I move like a pinball zigzagging from one extreme to another. Over the years my zigs and zags have become shorter, but I still zig and zag more often than I care to admit.
A few weeks ago, I was asked a thought-provoking question about motherhood: How does motherhood give you a particular vantage point into the brokenness in the world?
I realized in pondering this question that I often parent on a pendulum. And I don’t think it is just me. I think we live in an extreme and intense society, one that knows and understands very little of the middle ground.
Besides giving me a front-row seat to see my own deep brokenness and the neediness of my own little ones, motherhood has allowed me to see the pendulum of wrong views we as parents tend to swing between.
On one hand, we are quick ENDURE our children, to see them as a necessary burden. Very few of us would vocalize this view, yet often our sighs and our faces and our time choices scream this to our children. We try to rush through the “little years” so we can get to a season of life where we will have more freedom to spend our time investing in our hobbies and pursuing our own dreams.
But children are not to be endured, they are to be ENJOYED. According to the Bible , they are a gift, a great blessing, a treasure. Sure they cost a lot of money and they drive us crazy sometimes and they wake us up at all hours of the night; but they are the precious, unique creations of a brilliant Creator. They offer us a vantage point into the world that we desperately need.
On the other hand, we are also quick to ENTHRONE our children. We often overcorrect and swing too far from ENDURING and begin to place our children in places they were never meant to sit. Children are beautiful and wonderful, but they are not to be made into little gods. They are not the highest end of all of life and they were never intended to be an end in and of themselves. When we overly adore our children by giving them everything they want, by overly-protecting them from consequences and pain or by putting unrealistic expectations on them, we set them up for failure. When we enthrone our children, we inadvertently raise them to think they are the center of the universe, an idea the rest of the universe simply does not agree with.
Children need to be ENTRUSTED, not enthroned. We need to wrestle and wrangle these little ones out of the idolatrous places in our hearts that they keep slipping into. We need to continually present them to a perfect and loving Father. He made them, He loves them, He has plans for them. Very often these plans will not look like the plans we or they would have picked. Yet life works best for us and for them when God is at the center.
I can swing from enduring my children to enthroning my children in a matter of minutes. The only hope I have to stay in the healthy middle ground of enjoying and entrusting is to be held in the hands of a perfectly balanced God.
Thankfully, God neither endures or enthrones me as I zig and zag through parenting. He holds me steady in His loving hands. This is my hope.