Parenting As A Child of God
“You are not who you think you are.
You are not who other people say you are.
You are not even who you think God thinks you are.
You are who God says you are.
You are His son or his daughter.”
-Paul Ferguson, Holy Trinity Brompton, London
What do feel when you read this quote?
At the end of a secluded alley, just off Cromwell Road in London, stands the Holy Trinity Brompton Church building. Stepping inside the front door you encounter an evocative sculpture depicting an exhausted prodigal son falling into the supportive arms of his father. The boy is wilting like a leaf, depleted, nothing left. The father’s expression shows relief, compassion, joy, and sadness. The sculpture speaks of God’s generous, loyal love. It invites everyone who is exhausted and worn out, everyone who has come to the end of themselves, to be embraced by the overwhelming love of God. It’s a powerful invitation.
A picture of that sculpture has been on my desk for the past four years. Taped on the back is the Ferguson quote. It’s there because I have a lot of work to do. It’s there because the world is not as it should be and I want to do everything I can to help. It’s there because I feel pressure to provide for my family. It’s there because I easily believe my value is directly correlated to my ability to work hard. The harder I work, the more value I bring. The more value I bring, the more secure my family will be. This equation is so intuitive it feels more like breathing than a cognitive choice.
It’s only after running myself into emotional, spiritual, or physical depletion that I remember… “Oh yeah. God says I’m…” And, once again, I find myself wilting into the supportive arms of the Father.
It’s hard to be human.
Jesus said, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
Walk with me: Walking is not running. When you walk you are not anxious. You are not nervous. You are not hurried. Instead, you notice people. You notice what is happening inside yourself. You are well within your margin and respond with resources to spare.
How would you describe the pace of your life?
Work with me: Work means forward progress. You sweat, but your chaos is calmed. You make lists, but tasks are accomplished and goals are met. And you’re not alone. Jesus is at work. He is inviting you into partnership and into the work He has created for you, saying, “Work alongside me, not for me.”
What words would you use for your work?
Watch how I do it: “This is my son, in whom I’m well pleased.” Jesus knew his identity as God’s son and this confidence shaped his daily work. He was compassionate, but also direct. He engaged with large crowds, smaller groups, and withdrew into solitude. He accepted his role as a leader, but also listened for the guiding voice of the Father.
What might you learn from Jesus’ example?
You are God’s daughter. You are God’s son. He is pursuing you with a generous, loyal love that defies all logic. When you come to him depleted and exhausted, His strong, outstretched arm will catch you. He calls you son. He calls you daughter.
What does this change? Everything.As a child of God, you parent from a place of confidence rather than fear. You can embrace failure. Your value is disassociated from your performance. Education and competition take their rightful place. Generosity and compassion flourish. Success is redefined and God’s intention for your life begins to take shape. It’s easier to be human.
Slow down. Pause. Breathe.
Are you there? Okay. Listen.
What might it look like to live more fully as a child of God?
How is He inviting you?