I remember as a young parent – inexperienced, unskilled, overawed, overwhelmed, exhausted – wondering why reality was so different to how I had imagined being a parent would be. And I remember a “parenting debate” about time.
Quality Time. A kind of “holy time”. Time one could have with one’s children and/or spouse that didn’t take up too much of my day. Intense Time. Super Time. Seconds that meant more than other seconds. Minutes that shared more than other minutes. Hours that could be mine to do my stuff. Quality Time was the answer.
Being There was the other side of the debate. Parenting by Presence. Sharing your life with those you loved by being a presence in theirs. Opportunistic Time. Spontaneous Time. Waiting Time. Seconds that passed. Minutes that whiled away. Hours of being together that got in the way of my stuff. Being There was the answer.
I tried both. Quality Time? Usually the chosen child saw little reason to interrupt what they were doing because of my chosen arrival. Being There? Often exposed that IED of parenting: “But you promised Daddy!” as I was not there at all. The truth is that we each find our own way (usually too late for the child’s childhood), but in good time to reflect how we could have done things differently.
Jesus said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Luke 13:18-21
What is Kingdom … how do I Kingdom … is it Work … should it be Work at all … do I have to be Qualified … do I have to preach the Gospel … do I have to talk to anyone … how will I know if I am doing to right … who should I ask to tell me how to do it right … will God appreciate my efforts … will others appreciate my efforts, what if … ?
Being a parent is hands on. Being a parent assumes you will get it wrong and right. It assumes you will “parent”. It assumes you will be a changing parent. Sometimes “this way” and sometimes “that way” of doing stuff. Sometimes pleased as punch, sometimes down in the dumps. Sometimes appreciated, and a lot of time … not. Sometimes without the need for sleep, but mostly … not!
So why is being a Christian so hands-off for so many? Perhaps …
I never gave birth to my belief. God did …. I am the child. He is the parent … I am the sheep. He is the shepherd … He saved me. I didn’t … He wrote the law. I obey the law … He IS Kingdom. I haven’t a clue … I am never a disappointment to God. He loves me without condition … When He tells me what to do then I will be a good child and do it. But until then … Just what IS “kingdom”?
I think “kingdom and kristian” is as “parent to parenting”.
I am a parent. So I do “parenting”. I may not have a clue, and I will get it wrong. But the alternative is to be a biological participant only. We call that being a sperm donor – not parenting. So I am a kristian and I haven’t a clue … ?
Get over it. “It” is not a trophy. It is “being”. It is how I breathe, how I see, how I respond, how I live. That is “kingdoming”.
Maybe “I AM” is a clue here. Maybe yeast and flour mixed to become one is a clue. Maybe a seed planted and tended and growing “just because” is a clue. And maybe kingdoming is: “I am a kristian – therefore I kingdom”.
As a new parent I read a book or two on parenting. And I used them like manuals – a “this is how to do it all” book. Until I saw our younger daughter doing stuff I was teaching to her older brother. And I remember looking at her thinking “Why is she doing that – we haven’t taught her how yet?”
And then understanding.
The ”book” was not the answer. It was not a “how to” book. It was a “why” book. It was NOT a “do this in this way” book. It was a book of love for those like me who hadn’t a clue. A leg-up book. Never intended to be used as a car manual, a knitting pattern, an architect’s drawings. But all I had wanted was to know “how and when”. I had not looked for “love” at all in that book.
And despite that our children survived. And I watch them now as adults – forever connected. Not by sperm. Not by presence. But by something much deeper. By love.
They know love. They know the difference between conditional love and “love”. They know the difference between soppy romantic love and “love”. They know how gritty “love” can be. They know how sustaining – how empowering – love really is. They learned the “I Am” of loving and of parenting.
Can we talk kristianing now … ?