My parents were “old school.”
Go to bed on time.
Do your homework.
No TV until homework was done.
Clean the house on Saturdays.
Eat what was set before you, every last bite.
We had to make sure we did everything we were told in its entirety. If our chores were “half baked,” that was considered to be worse than not having done anything at all. If dinner wasn’t appreciated and eaten with gusto, ours was a fate worse than early bedtime. The worst was the unending lecture that carried on for days – we would do anything to avoid that lecture. Even if it meant eating all of our dinner!
I’m not as old school as my parents were. When we started our family and had our first child, we tried to be perfect: regular bedtimes, natural foods, you name it we tried. It was very exhausting but we did our best. Then we had our second child and our resistance came down just a bit. With our third born, we kind of threw all caution to the wind. Gone were the days of schedules, all-natural foods, and a predictable rhythm. We were just thankful to get through the day when there were 3 young ones running around the house. My motto in those days was, “If there’s no blood then you’re going to be OK.”
When our third born was nearly 15, along came #4 and to hear the others tell the tale, we are different people than we were with them. Perhaps we’re more like grandparents? I’m sure there’s some truth to what they say but I do know the important issues like brushing teeth, cleaning bedrooms (working on that), and getting schoolwork done are all still intact. I confess to being guilty of allowing more chocolate into the house than in years past and bending more with bedtime than most younger parents would. All of that being said, #4 is everyone’s treasure and life with her, while a bit messier and more chaotic than with the others, is wonderful. We are committed to raising her just like #1-#3 to the best of our ability, we will see the task through with joy!
Parenting, it requires a “stick-to-it-iveness,” a commitment to finish the task that is reminiscent of my parents’ old school style. There’s no bowing out gracefully of parenting, it requires all of your energy and faith. You have to finish every part of it: from potty training, homework, high school, college, to finally letting them go as they grow into adulthood.
God is a parent to many; I can’t imagine what He goes through with all of His kids! As I consider my own failures and flaws as a parent (I’m like you, I rehearse all of the good, bad, and ugly of my parenting over and over in my mind), I am comforted to know that He has walked the same path as I have many, many times over. I’m seriously inclined to take His example in parenting over my flawed thinking.
God’s first Son, Jesus, our Elder brother, came after us, the younger rebellious siblings, to bring us back to the Father (see Romans 8:29). The Father trusted Him to get the job done, much like the firstborn children in our families. I remember my firstborn being left to watch the two younger ones overnight once when their father and I had to drive overnight to meet some visitors. I knew that he took his assignment seriously; I didn’t worry at all about his ability – he was well able to handle any backtalk the others might try to give him (which wasn’t likely, he didn’t tolerate any backtalk from them at all).
What an assignment Jesus had! There was no one who was able, besides Him, to bear the load of what was needed to bring the family back together again. The family had been fractured; as a result everyone was far from Dad. Jesus, like the Elder Brother, loved His Father and His siblings enough to take bringing everyone together seriously. He was old school; He came to earth to finish a task that everyone else would have left “half baked.”
Matthew 26:42 TLB “Again He left them and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot go away until I drink it all, Your will be done.’ ”
Because of the loyalty of our Elder Brother, Who finished what He started, we now have access to our Father, our Dad, Whose arms have ample room for all those who dare to accept Him as Father.
What about us today? The assignments we have on hand from the Father; are we finishing them “half baked” or are we sticking to the “old school” values? Let me remind you today, you come from a great history of “old school” brothers and sisters who were able to finish the task assigned to them. Think of Deborah the Prophetess and Judge, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, Mary the mother of Jesus, the list is long and impressive. Full of family like you and me: imperfect but able to finish the task. Jesus came as the perfect example of tenacity and didn’t give up on His goal that had you and me in mind.
It’s inside you to finish, so go ahead and drink the cup. You can do this!