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Courageous Parenting

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. – John 6:8

Pulling another night shift last night, I woke up around 8 this morning in complete “zombie” mode. I decided it would be the perfect time to throw in a movie, and just all asleep watching it… so I threw in Courageous, a movie that really focuses on parenting. Instead of falling asleep, I somehow managed to watch the whole movie and even get lost in thought (actually watching the full credits), and for the first time hearing the song “My Creed.”

The movie honestly made me wonder where all the good parents have gone, as I have seen a lot of families hurt by absent parents, but I have also seen many families broken by parents who expect their children to be perfect. I think in some ways the church is to blame for this attitude which dates well back to the Pharisees of Christ’s time. We look at others who fall and immediately pass judgement on them (Matthew 7:1), rather than realizing that we are ALL sinners and that we need to be lifted up and encouraged in Christ’s way, not condemned.

All too often in the church I see people fall and the church immediately shews them away, rather than looking at the issue and trying to resolve it first. We as a body of believers are to BUILD UP and ADMONISH one another. Yes, we need to rebuke sin, and reproach those who are actively sinning, but we also need to forgive those sins, and not hold the sins of the past against them. I mean, how dare we refuse to hold someone accountable for sins of the past, when God Himself does not see them. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have laws and punishments, but rather than once someone has paid the consequences for their sin, it should be removed from our sight, removed from our active thoughts. We should be careful to watch out for “relapses,” but also quick to remember that we too have our own sin addictions and flaws.

This is extremely true in parenting as well. Children grow so quickly that we can lose sight of who they are. Months during development is the equivalent to years in adult life as the youth is growing and learning things extremely quickly. And as such, they are going to make mistakes, and make some poor decisions. These decisions hurt parents, I mean what parent doesn’t want to protect their child? But we also have to remember that WE MADE MISTAKES too, and just because we made some mistakes does not mean that we can’t turn our life around, and learn from them.

We have to learn to trust again. To be mindful, and guarded, but also to be patient, kind, enduring, and willing to listen. We have to be careful that we do not become like the Pharisees, or even like in many churches, were we turn our back on someone because of past (or even current) sins. What many people do not realize is that there is a personal struggle that comes with overcoming a sin addiction, and changing behaviors. And I think in many senses a fear or failure, or not being able to overcome. When we hold onto the past and automatically assume the worst in people we are telling them WE DO NOT BELIEVE they’ve changed, or even that they can.

In one scene of Courageous, a father is faced with his daughter liking a young man who is extremely disrespectful. The father turns the man away, and later finds out that the young man is involved in a gang. But there were two parts of this substory that really got me, the first being that when he asked the young man why, the young man replied “because I have no one.” As Christians we are called to be the light, and even though the point was to show how important parents are, it also shows that we need to reach out to those who we may view as “bad apples,” because like us, they need to know God’s love. We need to extend love towards them, and not just push them away, back into the ruthless world. This isn’t to say we should put our families in jeopardy, but the father could have taken the young man out to lunch to talk about things, and despite it being a movie, I wonder if that had happened, would the young man have ended up going to jail at the end? Just a thought…

The other point is that the father’s daughter could have potentially made a HORRIBLE decision in dating the young man, someone who wasn’t ready for a relationship, and wasn’t living a life for God. If you think about it, the father could have been like “Wow, are you stupid! See this just shows you can’t be trusted!!! You almost dated a gang banger!” Instead the father took his 15 year old daughter out to a “special supper,” where he told her how much he loved her, that he cared about her, and that he understood that she wanted to find the right man for her. And he promised her, that when she finds that right man, a man he can approve of, he would stand by her and support her 100%.

Wow. What has happened to that? Instead of rebuking and punishing his daughter for a past mistake (one that was recent), he instead reinforced his love and trust for her. Telling her he only wants whats best for her. That’s not to say we should never punish children as they are growing, but punishment without teaching does no good. What good does it do to deal with the most superficial layers while avoiding the REAL issues. What good does it do to push our children aside, to give up on them? What does it do to kick them to the streets, other than show them we don’t really care and that they’re not worth our time or effort?!

I think we need a lot more courageous parenting in the world. A lot more parents who are not only in their children’s lives, but THERE for their children. Parents who will love unconditionally, and remember that their child is growing, learning, and will make plenty of mistakes along the way. Just as we continue to make plenty of mistakes in our adult lives… but we wouldn’t want anyone holding those against us, nor should we EVER hold past mistakes against our children, instead building them up in the love of Christ.

On a subnote, I am extremely grateful for my parents, because they exemplify what it means to be there, and show both unconditional and tough love. Growing up I knew I could go to my parents with anything (even though everyone knows no kid does), and that they’d be there for me, support me (even if they didn’t support the decision), forgive me, and be there for me regardless. Mom and Dad, I love you two so very much, and can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done.

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