Our youngest daughter, Eliza, has a slew of nicknames: Lizzie, E-lizzie, Little Bit, Nugget, Tiny Tot, Eliza J – to name a few.
My husband and I have one name for her that we share just between the two of us, P.W.
No, it does not stand for Pioneer Woman from the cookbook writing, blogging, and Food Network fame but from the “Persistent Widow” of the Jesus-parable-telling, Bible fame.
In Luke 18, Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray by encouraging them to be like the persistent widow, who begged and pleaded her case until the judge, who neither feared God or respected man, gave her the justice she relentlessly sought from him.
Eliza may not be seeking justice, but she most definitely knows how to relentlessly plead her case for whatever she wants.
Last week, it was for me to sign and send in the permission slip and $8 fee for her first-ever kindergarten field trip to a local pumpkin patch. It didn’t matter that the envelop didn’t need to be turned in for seven days, Eliza asked and kept asking if I had filled out the form, when she would return it to school and whether or not I had included the money.
I tried to explain to my own P.W. that she could trust me and that I would take care of things, but it wasn’t enough. After about 2 days and a zillion of her questions and very-pointed reminders, I relented. I signed the form. I wrote the check. I put it in her folder. I sent it back to school – just to make it, her – stop!
One of the many challenges my husband and I face as parents is knowing when to our let our “no” be no and when it is okay to say, “yes.” We learned in the toddler years the importance of being consistent and establishing boundaries. Yet, my previous blog post, written just a few days ago, I encouraged parents to relax and “Just Say Yes”
Without “no’s” our girls would be entitled, spoiled brats. Without “no’s” they will be ill-equipped to face the real world where there aren’t trophies for participation and not everyone wins. Without “no’s” our daughters would develop an inaccurate vision of Who God is.
For many people, their first concept of what God is like comes from their parents. If parents are harsh and demanding, children grow up assuming that is what a Heavenly Father would be like too. If parents always say “yes” and fix everything to assure their kids’ happiness, then those kids grow into adults that expect God to be that kind of parent as well.
Just as an accurate view of God balances His holiness with His love, my husband and I need to find a balance between keeping the rules tight and strict while demonstrating mercy and grace. Consequences need to be enforced and forgiveness needs to be felt.
Parenting is most definitely sanctifying. God uses this journey of stewarding our children to daily make us more like Him as we depend on Him. AND . . . that is exactly how we try to determine when we say “no” and stick to it . . . OR if we can be like the unrighteous judge in Jesus’ parable and give our girls what they are asking for.
Like that unrighteous judge, there are times our actions and our re-actions to our girls’ requests are not motivated by healthy fear of God or respecting any man. Sometimes, it is our daughters’ persistent asking that reveals the sinful motivation behind a “no.”
When God answers any of our prayers with a “yes,” a “no” or a “wait,” it is always the best answer. Like Jesus illustrates in this parable, God will give out justice and do it speedily. (Luke 18:7-8)
In our sin and human-ness, we will not always give the best answer. Honestly, more often than not, the answer we give our girls is not the “right” answer. They need to know we make mistakes. They need to hear us admit that we got it wrong. They need to have us ask for forgiveness. They need us to be transparent.
In this transparency, they learn more about what makes God, well – God. They get a close up view of our own relationships with God. Here, in this real life, they are able to experience giving and getting grace.
Our daughters know we aren’t perfect. They experience our mistakes and often bear the consequences of our sins. They are learning to seek God’s help to make decisions as their parents practice seeking God’s help in making decisions -even and especially the decisions to answer their questions. They see us fail and know they will too and it will be alright – God’s grace covers it all…
I know I am probably on the verge of overthinking this whole, “yes/no” thing. But it is just one more little lesson where I am reminded that I am in daily need of the Spirit’s help with parenting and I am thankful for little people that daily propel me back to dependance on Him.
As my husband and I wink at each other was our Persistent Widow leaves the room having obtained her “justice” we are also both reminded of our Heavenly Father who answers our prayers with “yes.”
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