Brian and I have had lots of conversations about parenting...obviously! One of the things that comes up a lot for me is my strong, involuntary reaction to 3 dirty words that I do not want to use with our little ones: nice, perfect, hurry. Let me explain...
- NICE - I don't easily trust nice people. I've known my fair share of "nice" people, and Christians are often [even subliminally] taught to be nice, but I don't see that characteristic in Jesus at all. And "nice" is definitely not a Fruit of Spirit. Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness - YES, but not nice. I do trust kind, good, and gentle people. I guess I've seen under nice is unauthenticity, fakeness, and often anger. I've found that nice people are often trying to be nice, but underneath that is all kinds of gook.
I also read a book by Lynne Hybels several years back called "Nice Girls Don't Change the World", and I nearly got whiplash from bobbing my head as I read each page. Essentially, Hybels was preaching that as little girls [and boys, I suppose, but to a lesser degree] we are taught not to ruffle feathers, push the status quo, and be what everyone around you wants you to be. My aversion is probably a reaction to my people pleasing expertise, but also to my passion to see our kids exhibit the fruit of the Spirit's work in their lives, not just behavior modification.
So, at the end of the day, I don't want to tell Lil' A to be "nice" to his sister. I want to challenge him to be gentle and loving and kind.
- PERFECT - This word is deeply ingrained in me to. I've found over the years of interacting with my friends' kids that when they do something right, my first reaction to say "perfect!" Perfection is the furthest value or expectation in the world that I wish to instill upon our kids. I want them to do their best, focus on progress not perfection, and learn to live free from the constraints of coloring in the lines.
Theologically, I understand that this sinful tendency is traced back to the Garden when the first people bought into the lie that they could "become like God" [Genesis 3:4] - pure perfection. It's an impossible standard and one that I don't want to set up for my children. I want them to learn and feel and internalize their desperate need for GRACE at an early age, so the less I impress perfection on them, the better they will grasp this central Christian concept.
- HURRY - My last big dirty word. I know this one will be really, really hard for me. If you know me well, you know that I live at Mach 2 speed. I get a lot done in a day. I walk fast. I drive fast. I shop in record time [My grandma loves to tell stories about shopping with me as a little girl and how "efficient" I was at selecting what I wanted!]. I love to optimize my time. Multitasking is something that I practice NOT doing.
Yet, I know with little legs and little feet and the playful meandering of children makes understanding this word an impossibility. And every time I hear an adult say "hurry up" to a child, I wonder if a moment of their childhood is stolen from them. There's plenty of time for hurry - just not in childhood. Childhood is for playing in dirt, and dancing down a hallway, and exploring new territory, and slowly tying shoes, and losing track of time.
Controlling my tongue to not scream "HURRY UP!" at our kids is going to be a hard lesson for me to learn. It's gonna challenge my Type A, activistic, achieving, and task-oriented personality. But it's also going to bless my nurturing, restful, utterly playful, and silly personality.
At the end of the day, I know I'm going to say these 3 dirty words to my kids and despise myself for it. At the end of the day, I know I'll do a million other things that scar my kids for life. That's why in addition to a college fund, we want to set up a counseling fund for our kiddos. Kinda kidding. Kinda true. At the end of the day, we'll rest on grace and mercy and God's wisdom to raise these 2 beauties to be all he's created them to be. He's chosen us to be their parents, just like he's chosen them to be our kids.