Parenting with the Bible is a monthly
article prepared especially for parents by Bible
scholar and child expert, Caryl
Tragedy Cannot Separate Us From God's Love
One minute I'm talking to my sons over Skype and text message about their plans to watch the Boston Marathon, and the next they are in lock down in their respective Boston-area college dorms, anxiously waiting for the police to complete a surreal manhunt for two bombing suspects. In a matter of moments, my sense of peace as a parent was put to the test.
I have to believe that as we all watched the events related to the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt, as we waited for the younger suspect to emerge from the boat in Watertown, as we waited even longer for the news as to the brothers' motive, many of us turned to God to regain our sense of good, and security, and stability – to find and feel Love.
The Bible assures us of two basic facts: that God is Love, and that God loves us, each one. There are no exceptions. Love is pure and complete. Love cannot change to hate, cannot incorporate, absorb, even identify, hate. It denies evil any power, place, existence, or capacity to spread. Love is ineffable, sustaining, constant and invariable. This is our Source – the Source of our identity, of our thoughts and actions.
How do these grand ideas relate to our daily lives – to the myriad tasks we have as mothers and fathers? We love. That's our job, our persona, our identity. Elevating human examples of mothering and fathering to their Source, we find God – the one God, the only Father/Mother of us all, each and everyone. Understanding and accepting this Source of fathering and mothering is the most essential premise for effective, continuous parenting. We have innumerable opportunities to stretch and grow as parents. And in so doing, we come to realize that our children are not at our mercy, or in and out of our personal care; we are all at the mercy of and in the constant care of our Father-Mother God.
When we see something wrong in our children's behavior or attitude or in their interactions (be it bullying or being bullied), we can turn to these anchoring ideas, steady our thoughts, control our reactions, and listen for ideas – angel messages from God to man – to dissolve the dismaying picture before us. As we turn away from the details, no matter how complicated or disturbing they might be, we turn toward the light of Truth. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). We are free from the confines of our limited human reasoning, free to draw on all the attributes of God – qualities like compassion and courage, insight and inspiration, patience and perseverance – to see our way through any challenge to the solution, the dissolution of the problem.
We affirm our understanding of God as Love, and we affirm that the power and intelligence of our Father-Mother God is right there with our children – that they know and feel God's presence now and always. The clarity and conviction of our own thoughts and prayers has a huge effect on the clarity and conviction of our children's thinking and acting. Even when they're out of our sight, they're always in our consciousness. We cannot prevent or protect them from their own experiences and choices – successes as well as failures – but we can always support their progress and growth. That's what "being there" for them means. What's more, we can raise them to do the same for themselves, and for others.
As our children grow, they need our physical presence less and less, but our metaphysical support and unchanging love more and more. This stage of parenting demands more involvement than we might ever have imagined. It's always there – ready for any phone call or text message, regardless of the time of day – drawing on the infinite resources of Love to inspire our response and to affirm for our children that "we live and move and have our being" in God (Acts 17:28). We are never outside or beyond God's love, protection, and inspiration.
I took time that Marathon Monday evening to know that my children were safe – that they know God's love for them, my love for them; that they can never be separated from that love; and that this knowledge will sustain them in any crisis or challenge, will maintain their compassion for our fellow man, and will give them the strength and courage to exchange injustice and hate for Love.
Wearing a shield of spiritual protection, we deflect the arrows and bullets that would graze the skin if not pierce the heart. Armored and steady, we are able to be there, a beacon of safety, security, protection, guidance, and illumination for our children. What's more, we are eager to be there – to guide our children safely home to a clear, calm sense of God's presence and care. When our children call us for help, from the next room or from out of state, we respond immediately with love – with the tenderness of a Father's strong hand and the strength of a Mother's tender hug. There is no more effective way to parent.