[ Shepherd's Collection ]

Why Parenting Encompasses a Great Degree of Tension

Parenting is no joke! I think as our children grow and become their own person, it gets so much harder to “parent” while also trying to raise faithful citizens of God’s Kingdom. 

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9

My children attend an awesome school. The teachers, the curriculum, the facilities, the heart of it…. we love it all. But unfortunate events happen, even in really great schools.

Friday we learned that a teacher at my children’s school had been arrested on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct. Not just any teacher, my children’s art teacher! We were thankful the school had been proactive and had let us know before we learned about it on the media. It gave us a chance to tell our children before they heard about it. 

My children are fairly young, and not much needed to be explained to the two youngest. My oldest is in middle school and he’s exposed to more information than I can easily control (much to my chagrin). So it warranted an honest discussion with him. Which we had immediately. But I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and praying about it, that I decided to write a letter to my son. The letter pretty much reiterated what we had talked about: discussing it with friends, what happened, what it meant, if and how it defined people. But the letter gave me an opportunity to teach my son about God, and His grace and His unfailing love. There were actually two letters for him, one which he will receive the next time he logs into his computer at school, and another one he will read in/about 10 years when I give him the password to his email account I have been writing letters to since he was a baby. The latter letter cites scripture throughout it. I don’t think it would be an easy read for him at this age with all the references in there. He’s a pre-teen. He knows and loves God but a mama knows her child and knows how to get the most important message across.

Below is a large portion of the letter I wrote him, with references, since my audience here is more mature. Some portions have been deleted/changed to protect my children. I am sharing it in hopes it helps you navigate through life as a parent, a sinner, a saint,…..

Dear {Son},

Friday evening (just a few hours after you sent us your weekly wrap up from school) we got an email from the school let us us know of a situation that had occurred with a teacher there at {school}. Your art teacher, Mr. {Teacher} had been arrested on charges of lewd conduct. They assured us no students were involved in this alleged incident and that it occurred off campus in a different town.

From what I could tell, Mr. {Teacher} was a wonderful teacher. You and your brother and sister have made so many cool arts: ceramics, sewing, and so many other creative things. I hope you realize that people make mistakes and I pray that you show grace to him and his situation when you and you’re friends talk about it (Ephesians 4:29) – because you will talk about it. And that’s ok.

Remember, we don’t have to agree with or condone his actions; our job is not to condemn him (1 Samuel 16:7). You’ll find so much comfort in knowing that is not your job: it is a mighty job, but one tasked for Christ and Christ alone (John 5:22). 

All your years will teach you that there are many sides to one story (Proverbs 3:1-12). You don’t need to know the story to understand it. You don’t even need to understand it. And try as you might, you will never see it through the eyes of Jesus (1 Corinthians 5). You will spend a lifetime learning and re-learning this. That’s ok. The practice will serve you well (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

What we do get tasked with is actually quite easy. We get to love. How awesome is that?! Love saints and sinners alike (John 15:12). 

Let me interject a bit:
I am your mama, and I too have been tasked with a mighty job which encompasses a great degree of tension. Moms (and Dads!) have a natural instinct to protect their children from harm. Instinctively, a part of me wants to shield you from it all. To keep you away. To keep you safe. I want to tell you to stay away from bad people. I want to protect youMy child. 

Except, you are not minewe are His (1 John 3:1). 

So,… I must remain faithful. And so must you (Mark 3:34). We are called to love and nurture (John 21:15), even if the rest of the world chooses otherwise (Matthew 18:12). 

You’re a brilliant boy with a heart created and molded by the very hands of God. If you know God (and you do because you were created in His image), you know what is true, what is honorable, what is just, what is pure, what is lovely, and what is worthy of praise. Exercise prudence, good sense, and discretion in discerning the character of anyone (John 14:18). 

You have a remarkable fortitude, and I am confident your decisions will be in harmony with the true spirit of God. 

With an everlasting love,
Mom

I don’t know if the letter will stand the test of time. What I do know is that today, it was how I chose to parent and I am doing the absolute best I can. I am open to criticism and dissection so long as it is constructive and respectful. But I reserve the right to choose which battles to fight. 

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15

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