"The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing. "
That bit of Hebrew poetry is found in Zephaniah 3:17
Sounds like a domineering, critical, power-tripping God eh? (sarcasm inserted here)
I love this verse. Read it over again and soak it up. :)
God is with you, he is not distant, unconcerned or unavailable.
He is not only with you but he is mighty and able to save.
Imagine a God who takes great delight in little old you. A God that loves you with an extravagant and passionate love.
He can quiet the turmoil in your soul with that love.
He will find so much joy in being the lover of your soul that He can't help but serenade you.
My philosophy of parenting is to parent my kids the way God parents us. I prefer to take Gods word and how he relates to people as a whole rather than just search out and focus solely on isolated verses normally designated to parenting.
He relates to us with patience, grace, and mercy all within the security of loving boundaries and justice.
I fall so short sometimes and instead start showing irritability, frustration, laziness, selfishness and criticism.
Fortunately God is also patient with me as a parent. :)
I know he is looking at the the finished product and not the slip ups along the way. I can do that also with my kids.
When we take the above poem about how God relates to his people and transfer it to how we relate to our kids it takes on a whole new application for us as parents.
My children must know I am "with" them. I must be available to them physically, emotionally and spiritually. I cannot be gone all the time, emotionally distant ,or spiritually phony or unavailable.
I want my children to be secure in the knowledge that their Dad and I are "strong" enough to come along side them and shoulder the things in life that are to heavy for them to carry alone. They must be assured that we are strong enough to withstand their mood swings, their internal struggles, their mistakes, their immaturity without it affecting how we feel about them. We must be strong enough to have their best interest in mind even when that means some tough love. In wisdom and strength we can guard their hearts and provide a safe place to land when life gets tough.
I want to take "great delight" in my children, not merely just tolerate them. I want them to know that I not only love them but like who they are, find pleasure in their company, find them interesting and believe in the person they will become. Its so important to tell our kids we love them regularly but it means so much more when it is backed up by our actions, our affection and our priorities. We either bless our children by our words and actions or we tear them down. It is my desire to bless them each day.
"He will quiet you with his love".
I instantly remember Aili as a toddler. She would get so worked up over things that she would hyperventilate (and sometimes throw up). I would get so stressed and feel like such a failure that my two year old couldn't control her emotions better. I would try everything to snap her out of it. I remember one evening when she was freaking out in the bathtub because I had to wash her hair (she hated it) she was so worked up that I think she forgot what she was upset about by the end of the bath. I remember being worried that the neighbors would think I was murdering her. I wrapped my wee girl up in a big towel and sat down in the rocking chair (likely with a few tears of my own) and rocked and soothed her until she eventually quieted and fell asleep. At that moment she needed my help instead of my wrath. It takes wisdom as a parent to balance tenderness and mercy with hard firm consequences. It takes truly knowing our kids and taking the time to understand the situation and what they really need from us. I can think of times in my life when the table was turned and I was the one freaking out and God was the one to hold me and comfort me with his love.
"He will rejoice over you with singing."
How much uninhibited joy and affection do you have to feel for someone to sing over them? A mother tucking her little one into bed and singing lullabies to him. A Daddy with a child on his knee singing to her as she looks adoringly up at him. God is portrayed in this poem as a sort of warrior-lover. Strong enough to go to battle for us but tender enough to hold us. Likewise parenting is a paradox of strength and mercy. I am picturing in my mind a marine soldier outfitted for battle sitting and holding a fragile newborn in his arms. A warrior mama dressed from head to toe in the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) bending down to kiss a boo boo.
Any other warrior mama's out there? :)
Lets bless our children today and show them how much we delight in them.