I love to re-read books. I suppose this love of mine is going to come in handy in a few short months when Jimmie shows more interest in books and wants me to read and re-read them to her. Every time I re-read a book or re-watch a TV show or series, I see things bit differently, I pick up on a subtlety that I missed previously. In a similar fashion, as a minster, I tend to share many of the same messages. I am convinced that often what the world needs is not the next big thing but the ability to understand and practice the idea, concept, or value right before us. For instance, you could teach on love of God and love of neighbor and never run out of possibilities.
Last week, I wrote a blog post for Wilshire called “Goodness.” This is a lesson I will most likely revisit with Jimmie (because it is one I need to continually be reminded of for myself) throughout the various seasons of our lives together. Right now, the message is quite simple, I sing to her and remind her time and time again that she is a “good, good daughter.” When I feed her and she finishes her butternut squash or her bottle, I tell her “that’s a big girl! You were a good eater.” Sometimes I find myself telling her she is a “good girl” after she eats well. Her inherent goodness has nothing to do with eating or performing well. When I catch myself doing this, I immediately correct myself and tell her “Jimmie, you are good, it’s who you are. In this instance you ate particularly well” or I’ll tell her “good is who you are as a beloved child created in God’s image and sometimes we just don’t make the best decisions. That’s OK, neither does daddy. We’ll learn together.”
This might seem like a minor thing. As someone who struggles with feeling like my goodness is linked to my performance (why I struggle with perfectionism among other things) I want to help create a different narrative for Jimmie.
So, this might be a cute lesson between a father and daughter. What about the “real world” though? How do we embrace love of God and love of neighbor when a person’s view of God or views they hold about politics or immigration are so different from your own? Heck, you might think this very thing about me every time I post something on Facebook or post a blog. Do we truly believe that ALL human beings bear the imago Dei, the image of God? No matter their skin color, religion, political views, or sexual orientation?
A foundational belief I have about God is that God is on mission in the world to redeem, restore, and renew and we are invited to be participants in God’s mission. This is the greatest of invitations because to be on mission with God is to be in relationship (with God and others), to be in relationship is to love, and to love is to risk.
Love is messy. Parenting is the most rewarding and most difficult journey I have ever embarked on, hands down. And love and risk go hand in hand.
So, every time Jimmie’s little hand grabs mine, I’m reminded of the great gift, the great responsibility we have been entrusted with as we attempt to guide her into love, grace, and goodness.