July 9, 2019

Bright, Shiny Packages

Though I’m an in-betweener – beyond my own childbearing years but ahead of my daughters’ time to be married and have their own children – I’m surrounded by babies. Not literally, of course. But I know many people who are still having their own babies, and I also have an increasing number of friends who are becoming grandparents. As a result, I hear about new babies being born on an almost weekly basis. Of course, every healthy baby is a cause for much celebration, and we also rejoice in the few who are born with challenges even as we pray for them to be brought to full health. Every new baby is, in a sense, a bright and shiny package we can’t wait to “open.”

Unfortunately, the shine wears off all too quickly in some cases. I’m not talking about hard days – we all have those, as either our sin or that of our kids gets in the way, or the sheer depth and breadth of a parent’s job temporarily overwhelms us. What I notice are the perpetually negative parents. The ones who complain every day about a “bratty” toddler, an “out-of-control” eight-year old, or a “disrespectful” teen. Who regularly marginalize and degrade their kids, even in public. Who don’t ever seem to have a good thing to say about those precious children to whom they gave birth or worked so hard to adopt.

What happened to the enthusiasm which accompanied meeting the “shiny package” for the first time?
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning…” (Lamentations 3.22-23)

This means that God never gives up on us, never dismisses us as “worthless causes.” Instead, He chooses to look on us with new mercy – or new compassion, as some translations say – every single morning, regardless of how we may have messed up the day before. Indeed, He does it moment by moment in the midst of each day as well, choosing to lavish love on us despite ourselves. He, of course, wants us to confess our sins to Him – and to grow in our maturity – but when we do repent, He keeps no record of wrongs (1 John 1.9). He chooses to see the shiny package – to encourage us and celebrate us – and to cheer us along so that we can get past our sins and weaknesses.

Don’t our kids deserve the same from us? Of course, it’s necessary to appropriately discipline and correct their wrongs. But if God can “forget” our sin once it’s dealt with – choosing to see us anew each morning despite our track record – why can’t we give our kids the same grace? Imagine the difference it would make to them if we set aside pessimism and negativity and, instead, chose to focus on their new potential, day by day. If we choose to see a bright, shiny package every day of their lives.

Then move beyond imagining and make it happen.


Photo Credit: Backdoor Survival

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