3 Christmas Meditations on Being a Parent (Part 2)

2. Mary and Joseph Knew they would have to let go.

I wonder if knowing the destiny of Jesus (at least vaugly) effected the way that Mary and Joseph went about parenting? In a very real way they were forced to come to terms with letting him go.  Letting go can be one of the hardest parts about parenting.

I see parents who are clinging to their children and holding on too tight.  Sometimes this comes from a natural desire to protect their children from harm (there are other reasons).  No one wants to see their children hurt and or know that their child could be in danger.  Yet, some parents take this to an extreme by hampering their children from being able to  spread their own wings.  Sometimes we grow so accustomed to making decisions for our children, that we forget the goal of parenting is to train our children to make their own decisions.

Just like an archer has to let go of the arrow before it sails into the air and finds its mark, Parents are called on to release their children.  I think this happened in a very real way for Mary and Joseph.  They knew their was something special about Jesus from the start.  How do you raise the savior?

How would we parent differently if we knew the destiny of our children?  What if God called them to the heart of darkness a world away?  Would we be prepared to send them? Guide them? even direct them? My prayer is that he does call them there and that we are willing to let go and even send them.

To be honest each day I function on the edge of insanity.  Every time the road is wet and my wife and kids are in a car somewhere without me, I keep the phone close, praying that they are ok.  I could easily become compulsive about the safety of my children.  “No” could easily become the most dominant word in my vocabulary for no other reason than that “No” is safe.  But the joy of parenting isn’t found purely in seeking safety but in the risk of providing direction and  letting go.

3 Christmas Meditations on Being a Parent.

One of the biggest concerns of parenting is keeping you children safe.  When you become a parent the world changes.  People you don’t know become STRANGERS (with a dark and sinister motives), electric sockets become LIVE WIRES (that threaten to electrocute your kid) and the stove becomes an INFERNO of DEATH (that threatens to burn or scald your child should they even look sideways at it). Ok… Ok… Maybe I have an overactive imagination, but you get the point.  Part of parenting is keeping kids safe.  It starts with the prenatal vitamins and goes from there.

This is all fresh for me because my wife and I just had the opportunity of welcoming our son (second child)  into the world a few short days ago.  It has been an emotional journey to say the least. Everything about the birth and delivery process was about as routine and casual as having a baby can get.  But as I read the Christmas story over the last few days a few things stuck out to me like never before.

1. Taking on the Risk of Giving (Luke 2:1-7)

For all practical purposes Jesus was born in a homeless shelter.  There was no room for them in the Inn at Bethlehem.  Mary and Joseph were travelers and though it was the place of Joseph’s lineage they were most likely strangers in town.

Mary and Joseph followed God even in the midst of what must have been a scary and troubling situation.  I am inspired by their courage to trust God through temporary circumstances in order to welcome Jesus into this world.  It was risky.  But I guess that is the point I am trying to make.  Jesus didn’t come to be safe, but to save.  Jesus wasn’t Mary and Josephs kid to hold on to, but to give away to the world.

It would be easy to look at my children born under different circumstances thousands of years and miles later and think it is all different for me.  Certainly my children won’t die on a cross for the sins of the world.  But maybe the were intended for more than me.  Psalm 127 compares children to arrows.  Arrows were not intended to remain in the quiver, but to be launched at the Enemy. Maybe children aren’t the kind of blessing you keep, but they are the kind of blessing you give and that involves risk.