Some parents work to form a relationship with their children. They listen to them. They care about their feelings. They validate them. They understand that their children are also human beings who are learning to interpret their experiences and make responsible decisions. They gain their leadership role in a child’s life primarily from the relational investment.
Other parents want to control their children. The child’s feelings and experiences are irrelevant; what matters is the child’s attitude and behavior. They don’t want to “spoil” their child. They gravitate quickly to the “spare the rod and spoil the child” passages, but don’t imagine that the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, might have anything to do with parenting. Their authority in a child’s life comes from their power and their position as parents.
I’m oversimplifying here to make a point: For many years I didn’t understand that God is a relational Father. I just thought He was busy managing behavior; it didn’t occur to me that He might deeply care about how you and I feel and what we are experiencing. Once I began understanding that, then prayer stopped being a spiritual discipline and became an opportunity to hang out with Someone who loves me.
I have listened to Christian leaders who believe that our feelings are inconvenient nuisances that we should try to ignore as much as possible—especially our hurt feelings. I’m glad God doesn’t feel that way. He cares about you—and by receiving His care for us we will find a wellspring of love with which to care for others.
From the Bible:
…He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Remember, you are designed to make a difference!
Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Randy Heinitz, Flickr, Creative Commons License