By Tessa Stump
For years I have been terrified to parent. When I picture raising a child, I picture having a guest in my home for 18+ years. Someone whose happiness dictates all of my decisions and priorities. Notice I said happiness, not holiness. My husband and I want children, but at the same time this type of existence is pretty terrifying.
I am starting to believe this expectation comes from the way our culture interacts with our children. We praise parents that give up everything for their kids. In Christian culture we frame this as “sacrifice,” believing it is an example of what Jesus did in His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
And yet, there are many practices that Jesus didn’t give up during His ministry on Earth. For example, scripture intake (Luke 2:41-52), prayer (Mark 1:35, Matt. 14:23), service (John 13:15), fasting and solitude (Matt. 4:11).
I can’t help but believe that the process of raising children should make me more like Christ, not less. If I am to be an example and to train my children to be Christlike, to grow in holiness, (Prov. 22:6, Deut. 6:6-7) shouldn’t that process make me more Christlike as well?
I’m not writing to advocate self-care in the form of a bubble bath and Starbucks. This is not that kind of blog post. What I am suggesting is that as Christians we are to fix our eyes on Jesus, pursue holiness, and throw off everything that hinders (Heb. 12:1-3).
Things that Hinder (my spiritual growth and my future children’s spiritual growth)
Happiness as a Financial Priority
Watering Down the Great Commission
Loving Them More than My Husband
Admittedly, not being a parent yet, I may look back on this and feel completely foolish. But for right now; bringing someone with me in pursuing Christ is somehow much less terrifying than manufacturing happiness for another human.
Encompass Connection Center helps couples learn how to resolve conflict and create fulfilling, productive relationships. We also offer a free parenting assessment, as well as several other resources, for parents who want to learn more about the impact they are having on their child and build more balanced and satisfying family dynamics.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.