The following article was written by Chrystal Evans Hurst:
I’m very involved in church. VERY involved. So we are at church a lot. Not only are we AT church a bunch but we are in a very visible position when we are there, somewhere in the first three or four rows.
I’m used to being in this spot. I’ve been a preacher’s kid my whole life and I know that there is a decorum that’s required of kids that everyone can see. And, let me tell ya… I’ve done my best to teach my children that decorum.
Sometimes my involvement means that I expect my children to behave when they are in my line of sight but not quite within my reach.
Such was the case recently when I had a few minutes during worship to make announcements from the stage. Our church has two services and I had instructed my children in detail for how the morning would go. After the first service announcements, I promised to take them to the special room for donuts and then we could hand out in the back to relax until service was over after which we would join other people for breakfast who serve for two services.
They thought that sounded like great fun.
I also told them that during the second service, I would expect them to sit through service like we normally do and behave ~ especially during the time that I would be on stage making the announcements again.
I was clear. I was detailed. I was balanced in my approach. After all, hadn’t I made church for the day something to be excited about being a part of. Hadn’t I created space for them to be children and space for them to relax and enjoy themselves before I asked them to put on their best behavior?
I had done my part.
Not only had I done my part that day. I think I do a good job of doing my part on a regular basis on most days as I raise and train my children.
We have Bible reading time at home where I’ve given my kiddos the opportunity to practice being still and/or keeping their little hands busy. I feel like I’m balanced in my expectations of my children to both exercise self-control in appropriate situations while not denying them the chance to be children and run and play and scream when that is appropriate as well. I’ve explained the rules of proper behavior for church just as I have the library etiquette or inside vs. outside appropriate behavior.
My kids understand the rules.
My kids should understand the rules.
But guess what. They are C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N.
And while I was on that stage, in front of more than a couple thousand people, in the middle of my announcements, my ten year old shouted out a great big “HALLELUJAH”.
I was moritified.
It was loud.
Apparently he wanted to show his agreement with my announcements about the flu shot or the church’s harvest festival or maybe it was the upcoming women’s gathering. Who knows.
One thing is for certain, I stood there for about 3 seconds that felt like an eternity, staring my son down, trying to regain my composure and figure out how that happened and what to do about it.
Did I correct him later? Yes.
Did we have a serious discussion about that later? Yes.
Will he possibly embarrass me again another way and leave me aghast at the apparent lack of evidence of my parenting being any good. Absolutely?
Why? Because he’s a child. And children make mistakes. Children will need correction. Children will embarrass me every now and again.
And while I’m not waving a nonchalant hand at the importance of discipline or the importance of guidance and correction, I am definitely nodding my head at the reality of having little people in my life that embody 1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…
Because the little people in my life are children, that means that they will not represent my perfectly planned and executed training 100% of the time in 100% of the situations they are placed in.
They will make mistakes. They will forget. And Lord knows they will test the boundaries.
Lord knows, that will make me want to do a power-jack off a stage and run to give them “the look” up close and personal, drag them out of the sanctuary and show everyone who’s looking that I’m boss.
Lord knows, I might feel the urge to embarrass them from the microphone and make them think twice before ever doing that again.
The Lord is my witness that I might want to ground them for a year from anything that looks, smells, or tastes even the littlest bit like FUN to prove that I’m in control and that my words goes.
But parenting is not about vindication or getting even or looking good. Parenting is about loving guidance, tender correction, and maybe even a firm tone that is matched with a loving smile.
Parenting is not about approval from the public. It is all about approval from God above who wants my children, His children, to know Him and His love.
And my God, My savior, was a perfect example of staying power with the knowledge of how sometimes my life would be an embarrassment to Him.
He stayed on the cross. He did not jump down when as He was dying because He had a thought of how would embarrass Him later when my soul would appear in time born out of eternity.
He stayed on the cross, even when He knew that at times I would slight Him in the public eye as my friends bore witness to my life during the college years or later in my twenties, or if I admit the truth… still and yet in my 40s.
He stayed put and lovingly walks with me daily as I learn to walk in line with His guidance for my life.
He did his part even when I wasn’t doing mine.
He continues doing His part every day.
And He wants me to parent the same way.
Even when my kids embarrass me in public.