If you imagine God as a parent, what kind of parent do you imagine? You imagine your parent.
My God may be distant and uninvolved, always on business trips and only looking my way when I am in deep…trouble. Or my God may be sitting by my bedside at night, holding me and showing me how to slow down my breathing, so I can get over my cough. My God may be angry, always waiting for me to “blow it,” or my God may be understanding, and forgive me when I just don’t get it right.
Most of us, if we think about it carefully, have understood God in terms of our parents. This Mother’s Day might be a good time to think about what kind of God it is we want to transmit to our children. We are (no doubt about it) their first experience of God.
The job description
This doesn’t mean we are God, but that when we were “made in God’s image,” the job description included—co-creating. I know it’s hard to believe God could give us so much responsibility, but God did. So, when that little person first looks up at our face and lets out a cry asking to be fed, it is pretty much like us looking up at God and saying…. “I need, I want!”
God always answers, but the answer isn’t always “yes,” and if you think it is hard to accept God’s “no’s,” imagine how difficult it is to have to say them.
The joys of peer pressure. Not.
When my daughter was a precocious ten year old, the pre-teen scene was starting to make itself felt. Everything that came out of her mouth was, “I want,” and, “Give me,” and even a few, “you are so unfair!” It seemed every other child in the world had everything he or she wanted, why couldn’t she? So, we went to see a child psychologist whose solution was the following (I kid you not):
“You are making it very difficult for her to fit in, buy her the designer things she wants, let her be just like the other children, that’s all she wants, she wants to be one of them…you have the means to do it, buy her everything she wants.”
I smiled, and then I fired the psychologist.
You see, part of co-creating with God is asking the question, “Knowing what I know about Jesus, what should I do here?” And there is definitely nothing in what Jesus said or did that says, go for instant gratification, have everything your way, get it all.
Jesus was a homeless, itinerant preacher, for God’s sake! Definitely for God’s sake.
So, maybe your Mom said “no” sometimes when you wished she’d said yes, and maybe that “no” was even more difficult for her, but you know why she said it in the long run.
“No” to some things means “yes” to God.
Eventually, my daughter began volunteering making meals at a homeless shelter with her youth group at church, and not just any meals, great meals. One day she stepped out of the kitchen to a round of applause. The homeless at the tables had just received a beautiful gift from her, and this was God’s yes to the selflessness and generosity she had learned.
My mom said no sometimes, she still does, and it was a good thing to learn from her—the difficult art of defining what is worthy of you and what is not. The generations of mothers before me, keep me connected to a tradition that tells me the Mommy job includes helping a child to know she is God’s work of art. Being co-creator with God is a big job….but the benefits are awesome to behold.