A while back Monica put the meme (rules here) question to me "What have you been challenged to think about differently?" I've been mulling this one over because it seems lately I've been challenged to think about a whole lot of things differently.
I've been pondering a lot of stuff I once considered scandalous like White Washed Feminists and True Womanhood and am trying to get into the minds of some folks I'm sure I don't completely agree with. I've pulled away from the exclusivity of the patriocentric/prairie muffin sector of Christianity while at the same time yearning after their smiling, girly girl, formula-for-everything lifestyle. I've scrutinized the pitfalls in the extremes of shunning the world or fully embracing it, sensing the call of God to the middle to be His hands and feet by actually loving the folks who live in it with a comrade embracing love instead of a patronizing arm's length love. But most of all I've come to see how desperately I need Christ and how He truly longs to rob me of my sin.
The biggest change this has made is in my approach to parenting. I used to cling desperately to the "spare the rod, spoil the child" mantra, believing that I had been given the task of manipulating my children's behavior to best suit what other Christians called "good." I memorized the sayings in Proverbs about parents and children, plastered them onto Ephesians 6:1, and put them all to work on my kids. Then thing is, in doing so I forgot Jesus. I forgot that He is a Gentle Shepherd. I forgot that He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I forgot that it was His kindness that led me to repentance. I became the head of the Pharisees meeting out punishment in the name of God on my trainees instead of a broken sinner leading other little sinners to the place of divine deliverance.
Instead of simply taking for granted what someone taught me in a parenting class--which, by the way, contained a lot of out of context Scripture applied to child rearing--I've had to lay aside what I've always "known" in order to take a fresh look at God Himself, how He loves His own, How He parents them, and how He offers sinners so much more grace than He does punishment if they will only accept it. Don't misunderstand me, I still believe strongly in discipline (and spanking), but not the dictatorial, bolster my parenting pride kind. Not the kind that forgets that even parents need to adhere to the greatest commandments to love God and love others and to do unto other as they would have done to them. I want to be a minister of grace, leading my children to the cross because Jesus is able where they are not. I want to commiserate with them that I, too, can't stop sinning and be perfect. I want to share with them that Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. And I'm no longer convinced that can be properly conveyed with the carte blanche "Do it or I'll spank you" attitude.
My husband preached on Psalm 139 last Sunday, and for years I've seen this as a God-as-big-brother type passage. Watch out, He's gonna get you for that! But if you look deeper you can see that David knows that God knows that he's wretched, yet he rejoices in the fact that God sticks so close. Why? Look at Psalm 135 and 138. God's steadfast love does not leave him. This is the knowledge is too wonderful for him! Paul picks this fact up at the end of Romans 8. This is what I want my kids to know.