Monday, April 11, 2011

Do you sit in the dark with your children?

I'm still being challenged by yesterday's Word from John 11.  At the moment, what's chewing on me is what did/didn't happen when Jesus showed up in the midst of a mourning crowd (those who loved the now-dead Lazarus).

It's notable what Jesus didn't say: "There, there, now don't cry.  [God just needed another angel in his heavenly choir.]"

And it's notable what Jesus did: Jesus wept with them.

This situation, like others, serves as a microcosm of the whole Incarnation: Jesus entering into the situation of humanity, not simply as an emergency helicopter out (though he does do that sometimes, at least from the trials of the lives of some who needed healing).  Rather, Jesus showed up.

As a parent, I'm still learning.  And Meghan and I wrestle with the tension of protecting our children and allowing them to experience life.  Some people didn't like some of the implications of my reflections on letting Brayden go to school on the bus (and public school at that...oh the horror!).  The people who didn't like it were current parents of young children.  But many more people resonated with what I was feeling and encouraged me.  These were generally parents whose children had grown up and moved on.

In this video-interview, Brene Brown (who I'm becoming a huge fan of), talks about sitting with our kids in the dark (as opposed to always choosing to turn the lights on).

Funny thing: as I'm sitting here typing this, I'm outside while the kids play.  A friend from my six-year-old son's kindergarten class walks by with her mother (who's also pushing a little boy in the stroller).  They ask if he wants to come along for some ice cream.  Now I know this mother.  I know her husband - they seem to be great people.  We've met them several times at school events and as we each walk through the neighborhood.  My son has been over their house for a playdate before.  I have no reason not to trust them.

But as I sit here, watching them walk away with him, I still have a feeling in the pit of my stomach.  And what's crazy is that I live in an incredibly safe neighborhood, in an incredibly well-established town.  If anyone has nothing to worry about in this's me.

Yet I know that for my son, it's good for him.  Not just to have fun and eat ice cream, but to experience the realm of "the other."  There are certainly boundary-lines for six-year-olds.  And there will be boundary-lines for ten-year-olds.  And the same for sixteen-year-olds.  But at some point, the leash has to be slowly released.  Otherwise, it may end up choking them and/or breaking free at the wrong point.

Anyway, the above may or may not relate to what I'm talking about for you.  But it does for me.  I could have come up with a good reason to not allow him to go (we're about to eat dinner, we have to go somewhere).  We can do all sorts of things in an attempt to protect those we love.

Jesus could have gone and healed Lazarus.
God could have skipped the whole wilderness thing and sent them directly to Canaan.
God could have chopped down the tree of the knowledge of good & evil.
God could have killed Hitler in 1920.*
God could...

It's less clear, although rather so to me, that God does not send his children to difficult situations (just as I wouldn't take an infant to sit in the bleachers at Fenway for a Sox-Yankees game).  But when they arise, we might understand how those situations can be used for the better.

God didn't do the above list.  But what God did do in Christ was come to be alongside us in these things.  In the overall picture of life, is there a more loving thing to do?  It's not an easy question.

*Whether or not God's action such as this would challenge his loving nature is a debate for another time.


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