Friday, September 21, 2012

Taking Delight

The Lord your God is with you; the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

We've all met the parents who constantly brag on their kids.  "Oh my son can do calculus and he's only five years old you know!"  These types of people are wearisome and tacky.  And their puffy words only serve to repel those around them.  Partly that's because often their words seem incredulous.  I mean really, unless you've got a Little Gauss on your hands, your five year old is probably not doing hard core calculus.  The other reason these words alienate people is because they draw comparisons and make other parents feel bad.  Our son can't do Calculus at five so he must be dumb.  And so on.  You get the drift.

However, there is a flip side to this as well.  There are parents that constantly berate their kids to other adults, pointing out all of their flaws, riding them for every mistake and communicating to everyone around that they're not proud of their offspring.  These types are probably worse than the former.  For even though kids can get too puffed up from their parents' praise, life generally has a way of sorting these things out through experiences.  But a continuously battered heart can't necessarily be easily repaired.

Either ditch is wrong.  Staying on the road and keeping balanced is obviously the best way.

I've always struggled with this whole aspect of parenting.  Sure I tell the grandparents all of the amazing (to me) things my kids can do.  And Steve and I will stay up late at times talking about our dreams for each kid and how proud they make us.  But I keep those things really close and I don't ever want to come across all showy.  And sometimes I probably try to balance those feelings too much with being overly critical.  But regardless, every parent feels an amazing sort of pride in their kids.  They're our offspring.  God created them but we begot them...they're ours.  And believe it or not, they need us to be proud of the things they do.  They need us to be interested in them and their accomplishments.  Keeping it all balanced is the hard part.

Awhile back I heard Doug Wilson say something in a sermon on parenting that really caught my attention.  I don't remember which sermon it was but it stuck with me.  He was talking about this very thing.  He said (loose paraphrase), "Delight in your kids.  You can't overdo delighting.  Of course they're cuter than everybody else's.  Of course they're the best to you.  God delights in you.  Love like Him and delight in them."  After hearing that, I thought about it for a long time.  God delights in me.  How can I love like Him and delight in my kids without being overly proud?  And how is delight different than arrogance?

The difference between delighting and being too proud may sound like splitting hairs but really it's not.  It's a matter of focus: delighting is about the child and boasting is about the parent.  Delighting in a child gives them a healthy confidence they need to grow.  Boasting is self-serving, draws comparisons and in doing so, only puffs the parent up.  Doug meant that we're to keep an honest perspective but we're not to feel bad when we're proud of them.  In fact, a parent who isn't proud of his child is not loving.  A child who is loved properly won't be afraid to try things and fail because he will know that no matter what, even if no one else is with him, his Mom and Dad will be.  

Parents see everything.  We know our children's weaknesses and we know their strengths and we are to love them despite it all.  Delighting in them ultimately means we believe in them.  From the toddler learning to take his first steps to the thirty year old son pondering career changes, every child needs to know someone believes in them.  Belief and confidence in another human being can go a long way. Simply put, the first ones God has given this role to is parents.    

I have a beautiful friend who reminded me of all of this recently.  Her son just turned one year old and as she and I were talking at church, she was beaming as she described watching all of the fun things he was doing and learning.  I smiled as I listened.  It was obvious that she was totally and completely over the moon for him.  And I understood because I feel the same way about my kids.  But I could tell it wasn't about her.  It was about him.  She wasn't making comparisons.  She was simply delighting in him because he was hers not because he was better than every other baby around.  Her love was apparent and it was refreshing and real.  Talking with her also flooded me with emotion because I remember Isaac at that age and how I felt exactly how she felt-so incredibly proud of the many things he was learning.  And I remember thinking, "That little boy is so lucky to have a mom who takes delight in him simply because he's hers."

All of my friends have amazing kids.  They're so smart, athletic, artistic, imaginative, musical, witty and funny.  I know one boy who goes into the orchard by his house to look for spiders and he writes about them in his very own Field Book.  He's a scientist in the making!  I have another friend whose son is so naturally athletic I can just hear his name being announced over the loud speaker as the starting quarterback of the high school football team someday.  I know another boy who can play many musical instruments and he's not yet a teenager.  I could go on and on.  There's serious talent out there!  All of the kids I'm surrounded with are simply incredible.  Mine included!  God is so creative and good.  He's filled all of these little people up with talent, curiosity and courage.

I just pray that I'll be able to properly take delight in mine.  I want them to know I believe in them.  I want them to know that no matter what they do, I'll be proud.  And that I think they can do anything.

But most of all, I want them to know that I don't delight in them because of their accomplishments and how those accomplishments make me look but simply because God gave them to me.

They're mine.  And that's why I love them so much.  Simply put, I adore them because of their identity, which is just like Christ with us-they belong to me.  

1 comment:

  1. I just listened to that sermon yesterday, how coincidental! Great minds ponder alike.