Parents teach children, but children teach, too

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

I learned a lot from my mom. As a girl growing up on the prairie, I learned how to keep a house. Dusting, sweeping, mopping, straightening, organizing and washing dishes were routine chores for my sister and I.

I learned how to bake. Somewhere, a photo shows a girl with two thick braids, holding her first cake (sour cream) with a proud smile. I think I was 9.

At 12, I learned to bake bread. With a big Bosch mixer, it was a snap, and from that, I learned not to be scared of working with yeast.

I learned to cook. We were a casserole, “one-dish-meal” kind of family, which made it easy for a beginner. Mom encouraged experiments in the kitchen, and Dad, bless his heart, ate the results like a boss.

I learned how to iron. I hated it. As the biggest little bookworm to ever inhabit the plains, ironing shirts in the dungeon (read “basement”) was a real interruption to my life. Not once did the Hallelujah Chorus spring to my lips when Mom sent me down to iron. Not once.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the chores that were the bane of my childhood existence, that put a real hitch in my giddyup, have proven invaluable since. I know how to clean. I know how to cook, and I know how to iron a shirt.

The things that Mom taught me prepared me for life on my own. Then I became a mother, and the teaching of the next generation fell to me. One, two, three, four pairs of blue eyes. Four impressionable minds. Four young, innocent hearts were entrusted into our care, and the hardest job in the world began.

In 24-1/2 years of parenting, I’ve done a lot of teaching. I’ve taught tiny hands how to hold a spoon and how to put toys away. I’ve taught little fingers to tie up their shoes, button buttons and zip up a zipper.

They’ve learned how to read, how to help, how to clean. They’ve learned to fold the laundry. I’ve helped them learn verses, taught morals and manners. I’ve shown lisping lips how to pray. But for all that I’ve taught them, this simple truth comes, that my children have been teachers, too.

In all my life, I’ve never seen such quick forgivers. Having known me in my ugliest moments, there’s not been one time when they’ve withheld their pardon and grace.

When my oldest son was about 8 years old, he spilled syrup into the carpet. Right before the bus was to come, of course, in the height of the morning traffic.

I’ll admit it. I lost my temper, and I raised my voice. Scrambling to scrub it up, conviction fell, and I knew I could not send him off to school with his last image being that of a yelling mother. And so I sought forgiveness from my blue-eyed, blue-jeaned boy. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

He looked at me that day, countenance utterly calm, and he said, “That’s okay. I knew you would say that.” And like that, my slate was wiped clean, peace restored.

My children have been living examples of faith. With the childlike trust of the very young, they would simply receive what I told them as truth with no trace of worry, of doubt, or second guessing. If Mama said things were fine and it would all work out, well, then. Everything was fine, and it really would work out. Burden lifted, they’d move on, free to be what they were—little children, deeply loved, truly known, secure in the love and the care of their parents.

It’s a fallen world where children grow up to become wounded, doubting adults. Hurting, cynical, often angry grownups who struggle to believe the Father’s love, who question and quibble and reject His word. And then they pay for it in blood.

Anxious, hemorrhaging fear. Lonely, they hemorrhage pain. Doubting, they live in great turmoil, and angry, they hemorrhage hope. But this, oh, this is not what the Father intended.

“Truly, I say to you,” Jesus said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

For all who’ve grown up, childhood innocence and trust long gone, two words can set things right: come (that’s one) and become (that’s two). “Come unto Me,” the Carpenter said, “and I will give you rest.” If you’re one of the anxious and fearful, then come. If you’re lonely, pain filled, just come. If you’re the doubting, the angry, in turmoil, you come, and He will give you true rest.

Just come, and then become. Become as a trusting child again. (It may be the first time for you.) Become as a child, simply trusting, and rest. For in Him, you are loved, and you’re known.

You will not surprise Him with the depth of your sin. He’ll not be put off by your mess. The healing and cleanup is His work to do. He’s waiting. He’ll help. You just come.

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