I opened the gifts at my baby shower in record time. The once massive pile of bags and bows vanished. As soon as I started to open one gift my helpful little niece said, “Next present!” And handed me the next one or two. When she saw that I wasn’t opening them fast enough she reached for the wrapping herself. I can’t stop thinking about her delight and excitement about my gifts. When we took a break for a group photo and stretch and snacks I was soon called back to my chair with the words, “Maunty, Maunty! Presents!” Her excitement was so pure and, well, awesome, if a bit chaotic.
I thought about my shower as Forest and I just started reading a book called “Sacred Parenting” by Gary Thomas. Gary makes it very explicit on the back cover that his book is not a how-to parenting manual: “Instead of discussing how parents can change their kids, Sacred Parenting turns the tables and demonstrates how God uses our kids to change us”.
I think of Paul’s charge to “eagerly desire the Spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1).
I can picture God placing a huge pile of gifts in front of me. Gifts like mercy, compassion, hospitality, faith, healing, teaching, prophecy, even that really weird one of speaking in tongues. How eager am I to open those gifts and use them? Or the gift of a sunny day, my husband, my baby etc… Imagine if we opened our gifts in life with the exuberance of my niece? Sometimes I think in fear of becoming materialistic or selfish or disappointed I hold back. I think of the multiple times that Jesus brought a child before a group of educated men, who were sure they knew everything, and said something like, You’re the ones that need to change. Become like this little child.
I am so glad that my present opening was an epic experience that I will never forget. I am so glad that I was able to give up my usual way of doing things and join in some childlike joy. I have plenty of time now to savour the gifts slowly on my own.
Gary writes, “The message of this book… insists that the process of parenting is one of the most spiritually formative journeys a man or woman can ever undertake. Unless we are stone-cold spiritually- virtually spiritual corpses- the journey of caring for, raising, training, and loving children will mark us indelibly and powerfully. We cannot be the same people we once were; we will be forever changed, eternally altered. Spiritually speaking, we need to raise children every bit as much as they need us to raise them” (p 15).
I have had a small taste of this transformation through my nephews, niece, students and friends. Looking forward to the real change in about a month! *stroking a bony foot sticking out my side*.
Look at the children in your life and ask yourself what you can learn from them… you won’t be disappointed!
Reference: Gary Thomas (2004). Sacred Parenting. Zondervan, Grand Rapids.