Friday, January 21, 2005
It's an old Asian parable with a lot of "right now" wisdom. A little boy had been trying for many days to capture one of the little birds that snacked in the family fields. He had tried over and over again to hide in the bushes and surprise one of those birds enough to get his hands on it. Finally, after many failed attempts, he captured his prize. And he couldn't wait to show his mommy. He wrapped his hands around that little bird and he ran all the way to his house. As soon as the little guy saw his mother, he proudly extended his cupped hands and said, "Mommy, I got a bird! He's really cute!" But his joy didn't last long. As he slowly opened his hands for his mother to see, he noticed the bird wasn't moving - or breathing. It was one heartbroken boy who cried, "Mommy, I was afraid I'd lose him. But I held him so tight, I crushed him."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Hold Your Child."
The story is just that - only a story. But the mistake the little boy made is not just a story. It's a mistake made by many a mom or dad with a son or daughter they love very much. They held them so tightly that they lost them.
We tend to forget that a child is a trust from God; a gift He's given us to help care for, provide for, and develop. But they belong to Him, not to us. So a mom or dad who parents by God's design understands the power of these simple words: love them deeply, but hold them loosely.
God has even provided examples for us in His Book. Like Hannah, the mother of Samuel, God's man to be the greatest judge who ever governed His people. Hannah had been unable to conceive for many years, but the Bible says, "she kept on praying to the Lord." Ultimately, God wonderfully gave her that much-prayed-for boy, and she named him Samuel, which means "heard of God." In Hannah's eyes, the sun must have risen and set on that boy. But she understood that while you love your child deeply, you hold him loosely.
Listen to her prayer in 1 Samuel 1:27-28, our word for today from the Word of God: "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord." What a prayer for you to pray each new day as a mom or dad, no matter how young or how old your child is. "For his/her whole life, he/she will be given over to the Lord." Each day, you give that child back to the One who gave that child to you.
When you do that, you can avoid that unhealthy kind of love that crushes a child and often loses a child. A controlling parent, a manipulating parent, a guilt-tripping parent, a shaming parent, a dominating parent - those are parents who will ultimately produce the very results they fear by holding too tight. You may get some immediate compliance, but you're either going to cripple or drive away that child. Nagging and criticizing and pressuring only end up pushing them away from the very choices you so desperately were trying to get them to make.
You've got to ask yourself, "Whose needs am I really working on - my child's or mine?" So many times, we're trying to fill some hole in our life through our child. So we try to hold them tightly, to make them what we want - or what we need them to be. And in the process, we may crush the life out of them.
You just keep sowing good seed in their life, knowing you don't reap the day after you sow. You keep offering them the safety of your unconditional love. You keep showing them how to make good decisions; not making all the decisions for them. You keep reminding them of the awesome person God made when He made them. You keep setting reasonable boundaries with reasonable penalties, and you be consistent with them. You keep listening to their heart. And you keep giving them back to God, and stop trying to be "God" in their life. Only He can be that.
Love them deeply - hold them loosely so they can learn to fly as God made them to.