Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Green

I love this time of year. In Kentucky, it’s just getting to be the end of spring and the start of summer. I love the green colors you see everywhere. It’s not just any green, it’s "new green," it’s the fresh green of new life, not mold green, or snot green, or baby diarrhea green, or even the aged green of late summer (which is a great season as well, but different). But there’s something about the "new green" that’s exciting. Susie is not green at all (she’s only been green twice that I know of during her pregnancy). But she has that “new green” look to her, the look of expectancy and new life. I thought I was in love with her when I married her but the idea of a part of me living in her has only deepened my love and devotion for her and my attraction and attachment to her. She’s a hot mama! Tomorrow’s another doctor’s appointment, and then we get to have another ultrasound in a couple weeks.

Take 45 seconds and watch this video; you may have seen it before. It’s pretty funny. (Short disclaimer: I am not advocating the product being advertised or any improper actions that would necessitate the use of said product, it’s just a funny commercial.) I’ll get to my point after you’re done.

We’ve all seen (or maybe been a part of) a scene similar to this. Ironically, when I see something like this, I usually stick my nose up at the parent that’s with the kid. And a lot of the time the parent has the same look the guy in the video did – dumbfounded, bewildered, and embarrassed. But I’m about to be a parent, and there may come a day when I’m THAT parent. And as I started thinking about the possibility of being party to a public tantrum thrown by my own flesh and blood it made me wonder how I would react.

I’ve unfortunately seen too many parents lash out at a misbehaving child either verbally, physically, or both. I think a reaction like that has a lot to do with embarrassment. I can’t say I’d be smiling, but thinking about this makes me wonder about how much stock I put in what other people think about me. I mean, who are we making the effort to please here?

I’ve addressed this more thoroughly on a previous blog, that there is only so much Susie and I can do when we raise our child to ensure that he’s well-adjusted, polite, God-fearing, etc. A lot of it is ultimately up to our child and to God. I believe that we have a large affect on our child’s development and in no way do I shirk that responsibility, but at the end of the day, he’ll have to make his own choices. So what if one day that choice is to throw a tantrum in the mall?

I was reading through Galatians in an attempt to find an answer to a question my friend Sally had brought up about grace and the following verse jumped out at me. I had this blog subject on my mind and it’s amazing how God brings you to what He wants you to see if you’re faithful to read his word. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Wow, that’s extremely convicting. Who are we trying to please in the first place?

The word “still” indicates to me that we are predisposed to please men, that it’s part of our sin nature. I’m not saying we should disregard others; that flies in the face of Mark 12:29-31 and many other instructions Jesus gave us regarding loving other people. But is our focus on what others think? Does that drive our actions and thoughts and motives? I honestly can’t say that everything I do is with the intention of pleasing God over pleasing man. And this verse indicates that if I’m trying to please men, I’m not a servant of Christ and I'm living according to my sin nature.

So do I wash my truck and mow my yard because I want people to be impressed with what I have and to think I have it all together, or do I do those things because I am blessed and desire to take care of the material things that God has blessed me with? Do I go to the gym and exercise because I am concerned with my outward appearance or because I recognize that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit as it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19? Do I play my guitar or speak at church because I want the spotlight and enjoy being in front of people or because I want to honor God with the talents that He has given me? These are just a few things, but they are ones that I continually ask God to help me keep in check because it’s so easy to let vanity drive action. It could be something completely different that you struggle with, but we all have something.

So when my kid acts up, am I embarrassed because people are looking at me and I feel like my kid’s behavior is a bad reflection on me as a parent and that’s the most important thing to worry about? Because if other’s impressions are paramount then my reaction to my kid’s disobedience is in danger of being a worldly and sinful reaction because it’s not rooted in grace and God’s desire to raise a child in righteousness. But if I understand that my identity is in Christ and not how people perceive me because of my kid’s actions then I can react in a Godly manner that will be beneficial in training my child in righteousness. Now….do I think that will be easy? Not in the least. But if I can go into this thing with prayer for God’s help to maintain that mindset, I will be more likely to react correctly.

Wow, kind of a deep one today. And I’m not claiming it to have it all figured out either. Far from it. I know there are parents out there reading this, and plenty of people wiser than me, so I’d appreciate any advice if you have any. Thank you for all prayers coming our way for a healthy baby and a healthy mommy. I praise God for this exciting “new green” time in our lives.

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