Does God Care?

Simon Says

Simon Says is a cute game but not a realistic parenting approach

I made an impressive feast for our family the other night, a roast chicken recipe that I’ve finally perfected. I like to serve the meal with glazed carrots and onions, red potatoes and a delicious salad that rounds out the plate in perfection.

It’s such a simple meal and one of the boys’ favorites.

So when I made it recently, imagine my surprise when I realized that besides the chicken, I’d forgotten just about every other detail of the meal. No potatoes, no onions. No salad in sight. Just a platter of meat and a small side of orange veg.

“Oh my gosh what was I thinking,” I fretted. How did I manage to forget almost the entire meal? I knew I was going lighter on this weekday evening, but I didn’t mean to make it a fast!

“I can’t believe I did this,” I must have said to Paul about five times. I looked across our vast dinner table and saw…very little. Cups with water, plates with chicken. One measly carrot chunk on the plates of those children with an aversion to nutrition.

“Honey,” assured Paul, “it’s perfect.”

And somehow, it was.

We sat and feasted and enjoyed each other’s company. And I managed to let go of this ideal meal, the one I prefer to serve, and celebrate being together. And really, my menfolk are pretty simple; they don’t need a variety of sides to be happy. They just want to be fed.

I was talking to a trusted friend recently about some ways that I make life hard for myself. In my efforts to do The Right Thing and be a good momma, I set standards for myself that are silly and exhausting. But they aren’t impossible, which is also part of the problem. Because they are attainable, I think these standards are worth the effort.

One recent Sunday at Mass I was in a small battle with one of the younger children who desperately wanted a drink. And I kept saying “no, you may not leave for a drink” and felt if I backed down on this issue I’d be sending a message I didn’t want to send.

But finally, after a few minutes, I just didn’t feel like battling any more. “You may go,” I relented, “but come right back.”

And a minute later, that boy came back and he was like a different child. He was thirsty; he got a drink. We made it through that epic stand-off by me getting a grip.

“Does God really care,” was my friend’s question when I recently relayed this story. I felt exhausted and wimpy, like I’d thrown out every bit of sound parenting advice I’d ever read and what I needed to hear was maybe I was fighting battles that were not worth winning. Does God care? Yes and no.

God cares about what’s important — about us loving our children and teaching them to love each other and to love Him. But maybe a list of never-miss rules is not where I need to put too much energy.

Yes I’m The Boss, yes Paul and I are in charge of this family. But sometimes I need to step back and ask myself which battles are worth fighting. And then do another round of that again.

I know it’s important to have high standards and ideals, to be the best we can be, but in the midst of that I need to always be asking God what HE wants that to look like. Having rules and regulations for the sake of them bears fruit, but not necessarily the fruit God has for our family.

Perfection in Christ is a different thing entirely from just Perfection. I can serve the right meal and have my kids sit perfectly still and never mess up from my list of ideals. But if I have not love, I am a clanging cymbal.

A friend recently shared with me that in scripture, the word “perfect” has its roots in a word better interpreted as “being thoroughly well-made.” That’s who God wants us to be. That’s the freedom he has in store for all who seek his voice.

This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.

Comments

  1. How is it that I can love every last one of your posts?

  2. Well, this certainly hit home for me right now!! Thanks for the reminder….and the “permission”!!

  3. Love this post!

  4. YES!! (As in, I totally agree with you.) I read somewhere along the line that as long as you are consistent 80% of the time, you are still considered consistent. That gives you a 20% grace period 🙂 and I have found that a very helpful concept in regards to parenting.