As Mr. Beaver and I start down this path of parenting twelve children, we have been doing quite a bit of praying and conversing about how to carry out our roles in the most God-honoring and effective way.
Again, this morning during my Bible time, I saw something in the Puritan prayer book titled The Valley of Vision that caught my attention, but in order for that to make sense to my readers I need to share some thoughts from a favorite book called Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley.
"The gospel makes parents humble. We see ourselves most perfectly at the foot of the cross. Jesus died in our place. He took what we deserve. What do we deserve? We are cosmic traitors who deserve to be slowly tortured to death, naked, while a crowd stands around mocking, jeering, and laughing. Then in the climax of the scene, God the Father rejects us forever. But Christians never get what they deserve. We get what Christ deserves at his expense. This is the very clear message of the cross. All humility begins with this truth.
"The gospel opens my eyes to who I really am--'wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked' (Rev. 3:17). 'Biblical humility,' notes G. A. Pritchard, 'is not some self-induced groveling or hang-dog attitude. Biblical humility is seeing ourselves as we are. Humility is a response to beholding the holiness of God.'"...
"Growing humility opens our eyes to our sin. It makes us tender and gracious discipliners of our children....
"True humility flows out of a heart broken for its sins and failings." (pgs. 118-120)Remembering that I had read this section in Farley's book in the past and with the discussions Mr. Beaver and I have been having about parenting, this is what caught my eye in The Valley of Vision:
"Thou Great I AM,
I thank thee for any sign of penitence;
give me more of it;
My sins are black and deep,
and rise from a stony, proud,
Help me to confess them with mourning, regret,
with no pretence to merit or excuse" (pgs. 238-239)
This is MY prayer. I want to be broken-hearted and contrite when I sin. I want humility to grow in me. I want God-given humility to make me a God-glorifying blessing to my children.
Farley makes one more statement that I must keep in mind. It's only a few words, but their implication is powerful and far reaching.
"Humble parents attract their children's favor." (pg. 120)In the adoption community, we talk all the time about "bonding" and also the failure of some adopted children to bond to their adoptive parents. Couldn't the word "bonding" also be called "gaining our children's favor"?
I, of course, desperately want my new children to bond to me. In order for their adoptions ultimately to succeed, they must bond to me; I must have their favor. Therefore, remembering the cross, recognizing and being deeply sad about my own sin are key. As humility grows in me, my children's attraction to me--and my values as a Christian--will also grow.
(One last, short side note--all of this applies to teenagers also. I am the mother of seven teenagers so all of this is a critical learning for multiple reasons for me!)