Friday, June 10, 2011

the blessing of a checkered past; gratitude thoughts

Gratitude Thoughts

Our mechanic finished work on the second car this morning. The dear man put in an alternator, fixed the driver's side door handle, and adjusted the headlights, all for $150.00.  We need to make that man some cookies!  What a blessing!

After dropping husband off to get his car, I took the kids to the library.  The boys were out of books, and the girls, on Thursdays and Fridays, can take advantage of the literacy center the library graciously offers.  All the photos included below are from the library's literacy room.  

Not having to rush through the trip--needing to get back quickly so husband could use the van for work--was. such. a. blessing.  My peace increased many fold.  The kids too, were more relaxed without the rush.

Every time we go to the literacy room we take clean up seriously--leaving it in perfect order.  The children sometimes ask why we're cleaning up things we didn't use.  I tell them if we don't, then the librarians have to straighten it before they can go home to their families (both librarians have young children). Many different activities are put out, containing small parts, so it takes time to find the right containers and decide which items go together.  Today, Peter said, "It isn't very nice that the other families left all the mess, is it Mommy?"

These statements bother me.  It sounds as though I'm raising judgmental kids.  I know kids go through developmental stages, including some in which they see things in black and white.  I suggested that maybe the two families had to hurry home for naptime, or someone had a messy diaper, or they knew a meltdown was coming. In short, I taught that we never know what people have on their plates.  Things aren't always as they seem.  

Raising Christian kids is challenging.  There will always be the comparison between what we want them to do, and what everyone else does.  They reason, if this is the right thing, than everyone else must be wrong.  Wrong = Bad   Right = Good

My work is cut out for me, in teaching them to look at it this way, instead:  
Wrong = Blindfolded; without truth  
Right = Seeing; Holy Spirit-filled

Of course, my children still have to choose to be holy.  Being raised a Christian doesn't guarantee they'll do that.  (Link is to a blog post by Sally Clarkson).

I was without faith until the age of 31.  I believed in God, and believed that Jesus was the Son of God, but I looked at the blessing of the Cross as something I had to earn.  I was really relying on myself for salvation, which was terribly frustrating. I didn't have the benefit of the Holy Spirit, so I lived for myself, believing that most people would go to heaven as long as they didn't do anything terrible, or hurt people purposely.  

God decided to put truth in me.  He gifted me with faith.  I didn't will myself to believe.  I didn't have a choice, since I was spiritually dead.  I'm a Calvinist, which means I believe God chooses us--gifts us with saving faith out of his Sovereign will--rather than that we choose him.  If you believe the opposite, you might be Arminian--basically, the theory that God chose those he foreknew would believe, of their own free will.  Arminians believe we have the ability to choose God, and only those who do, get saved. For a complete comparison of the two views, click here.

It's a mystery.  It will always be a mystery.

I can't even count all the times I've caught myself, over the last fourteen years, wishing I'd grown up as a Christian.  Less baggage, I tell myself.  Children raised in Christian homes from infancy...without divorce, alcohol, drugs, abuse, adultery, the love of money, etc., come out more whole--more balanced, especially in homes with spirit-filled, growing Christians, as opposed to stagnant Christians who possibly have one foot in the world.  

Don't misunderstand me; everyone is broken--an inescapable part of being human in a fallen world--but less generational sin usually means less brokenness.

But.  There's this.

Children from Christian homes struggle with humility. A Christian from childhood, they know not from which they've been saved.  

One of my recent nightly prayers is that all of us, including our children, will be clothed in humility.

Though not raised a Christian, I still struggle with humility. But the thing is, I can quickly get to a humble place when I think of my "blindfolded" years.  I know what I've been saved from.  Realizing this, I find myself coveting a Christian past less often than before.  My husband has been a Christian since the age of seven, and my own boys were even younger when they believed. In this house, I'm the only one with a "checkered" past. (Although, don't picture drugs, alcohol, and rock n' roll--I was a teacher, after all :)

That singled-out part can still make me sad sometimes--as though I don't quite belong--but I see the blessing in it now.  I have something to give my children that my husband never could.


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