Saturday, August 23, 2008

Suffer the little children . . .

I think it was C.S. Lewis who said something like, ‘It’s not how rude children are to their parents that alarms me. Rather it’s how rude parents are to their children that I find alarming.’

I see this all the time in counselling, or in the store, or on the street. Parents, intelligent parents for the most part, attempt to change their child’s behaviour by demeaning, belittling, shaming and haranguing. I realise that for many parents they are only doing what they learned when they were children. They were made to feel less-than by their parents and by golly they are going to make sure their children feel like crap as well. Others are tired, hurried, frustrated and angry and all they want is obedience - NOW! I understand all that but it’s so very short-sighted. There is no possible way that hurting someone physically AND ESPECIALLY emotionally is going to make them want to treat you better. There is no possible way that embarrassing someone in public today, is going to bring about that person’s cooperation tomorrow. Condemning those we are supposed to love will almost always fail to get us the type of response that we are looking for. Instead, we will either get rebellion against what in reality is unfair, or the anger will go underground to fester and grow. People who are hurt tend to hurt back. People who are angry usually try to make others feel angry. People who are made to fear for their safety typically make others fear for their safety. Making your children suffer in order to bring about good behaviour is really, really self-defeating.

As well, it is really difficult to confront anyone, child or adult who does not possess an awareness of h/her position of being loved by Creator God. Absent that awareness, virtually all “attacks” or criticisms or even advice comes across as attacks to the core person. The correction feels personal. Something that I’ve noticed as I’ve aged is a transformation of sorts. As our society moves inexorably away from a healed relationship with our Creator, people are desperately seeking approval from others, from looks, from wealth and education and relationships. Without understanding themselves as spiritual beings who are meant to have a connection to something bigger than themselves, they simply have no other alternatives to finding value and worth, security and belonging. All they can do is try to get the things of the world to reflect back to them what they believe they need to survive.

And that is just one reason why the message of Jesus is so transforming. Unlike our earthly parents, Jesus loves us unconditionally. Unlike our earthly parents, Jesus does not keep a record of wrongs. Unlike our earthly parents, we can trust Jesus to do what is right for us. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn us but to save us. He died, so that we could have life. No matter what we’ve done, Jesus offers forgiveness. No matter who we are, we are acceptable to Him. No matter how much damage we have done to others, Jesus longs to restore us to a position of wellness, beauty, gladness, safety, value and worth.
The kingdom of God is open to all regardless of our past.
The kingdom of God is open to you.

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