Note: On on January 11, 2009 I began facilitating a parenting class for DaySpring, the church I attend in Waco. I’m going to be offering some of what I’m doing there in this space over the Spring.
This morning at DaySpring I’m going to be offering the participants in the parenting class a few more ideas about what it means to parent in a way that is “biblical.”
Last week (see previous blog entry) I used the ancient story of the Garden of Eden to discuss what it means to say that we are all “fallen.” My take on that story is that the Judeo-Christian tradition teaches we were created to enjoy lives full of meaningful work and meaningful relationships, but that the inevitable strains of life break us. Anxiety has thus become a key feature of life on this planet. When driven by our anxiety we become reactive, compulsive, and avoidant. We are tempted to take our anxiety to “idols, which may distract us, or soothe us, but can never transform us. The spiritual task is to take our anxiety back in to relationship with God. I contend that every one of the over 10,000 religions in the world offer some sort of process for doing just that.
Parenting from a bibilical perspective recognizes that our children are going to inevitably be broken in the same ways we all have been, and that one of our most important tasks is to teach our children how to take their anxiety to God rather than to idols (sounds quite simple, doesn’t it!).
When we meet this morning, everyone will have had the opportunity to read this article: Blessing, Grace, and Incarnation: The Foundations of the Spiritual Family.
In this article I suggest that there are 3 key spiritual experiences that support our ability to sit with anxiety, and to stay on the spiritual path. These three experiences are
Blessing: Blessing experiences are encounters that communicate I am a unique creation of God, loved and valued for the mere fact that I exist. The opposite of the blessing is the curse. The curse communicates to me that I am a problem, and that those around me have to somehow contend with me and cope with me.
Grace: Grace experiences are encounters that communicate that mistakes are inevitable, and can not only be forgiven, but overcome. Grace gives me the freedom to move into life with boldness. The opposite of grace is intolerance. Intolerance communicates that I better not make mistakes because the price to pay is too high. Intolerance pushes me to avoid life.
Incarnation: Experiences of incarnation are those encounters with people who love me and admire me, and who take the time to help me unpack the person whom God has created me to be. The opposite of incarnation is manipulation. Experiences of manipulation occur when the people around me try to turn me in to what they want me to be rather than who God created me to be.
As with all aspects of parenting, we are called upon to parent well while contending with our wounds. This morning I will be asking the participants in the class to reflect on their own experiences of cursing, intolerance, and manipulation. But I will also be asking them to name and celebrate those along the way who have offered blessing, grace, and incarnation.
As I write this, I’m reminded of the great Baptist preacher, Carlyle Marney’s description of balcony people. Balcony people are those folks in our lives, past and present, who cheer us on from the balcony. These are the people who love us, believe in us, and root for us. I would say that these are the people who offered us blessing, grace, and incarnation.
Can you name a few of your balcony people? Perhaps you’d like to honor one of them by simply naming them in the comments section of this blog. My parents certainly fit in that category for me, but I’d also like to honor the memory of Curtis Clayborn, who was my Sunday School teacher in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade (He loved his class of boys so much that he just kept moving up with us).