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Theology in Parenting: Justification

“But plums are not dessert, they are a snack.” The three year old argued after I told him he couldn’t have one. “But you didn’t eat enough supper” I replied.  In fact, he had generously given me half of his supper after he decided he was done eating.  Such a nice boy to share his unwanted food with me.

“Plums are good for my health.” He said resolutely, standing on a stool by the kitchen counter to stare at the container of fruit.  “It doesn’t matter if they are good for your health,” I replied just as resolutely. “You didn’t eat your supper.”

“Harrumph” he said as he climbed up onto the kitchen counter and sat there. I was sitting on the sofa nearby, nursing the baby, so I didn’t immediately react.  Instead, I asked like a reasonable parent, “why are you on the counter?”.  “I want to see you” was his reasoning.  Really dude? I’m right here.  “Please get down.”  I insisted.

I kid you not, he shot back “Being on the counter is good for my health.” My first thought was this kid is weirdly hilarious.  Followed by my second and more practical thought of actually it’s bad for your health because you could fall.  And then closely followed by my third thought of that’s gross because by this time he had started picking lint from between his toes and holding it up for me to see.  On the kitchen counter. Ugh… “Please get down…”

“I need help to get down.” He said as he climbed to the even higher part of the counter. Sigh.  I put the baby down to grab the three year old just in time for the almost eight year old to waddle out of the bathroom with his pants down and ask me to help wipe his butt.  Not sure why this usually independent butt-wiper suddenly needed me, but whatever.  This is my life.

Anyway…not too long after discussing plums and countertops with my three year old it occurred to me that sometimes we are the ones trying to foolishly justify our actions and inactions. Maybe we know something is unhealthy for us but yet we neeeeeed it anyway.  Or we deserve it.  Or maybe we are past trying to justify and instead are pretending like we don’t hear the voice in our head telling us not to indulge.  Much like the selective hearing my boys sometimes have.

I wonder if God looks at us sometimes with the same really dude? expression I seem to have permanently fixed on my face.  Our arguments of “but I want them to like me” or “but I had a rough day” or “but I’ll just do it tomorrow” can be just as immature as a three year old suggesting that sitting on a countertop is good for his health.

For me right now I’ve been trying to kick the habit of wanting sweets and/or wine in the evenings. It’s not healthy and I don’t need it and trying to justify it really is silly.  “But I just had a baby—I can eat what I want”, “Nursing burns a lot of calories”, “I just need to relax and unwind”, “My life is stressful”, etc.  None of those things make a lot of sugar every evening suddenly good for me.

I’ve found that admitting and shedding light on a problem makes it suddenly lose a lot of its grip on me. When it’s kind of lurking in the darkness it’s easy to ignore and not deal with.  But when I see something for what it truly is—my justifications fall flat and sound hollow.

What about you? Is there a habit you don’t want to admit you need to kick to the curb?  Or maybe something else you’ve been convicted of but are conveniently ignoring?  I suggest telling someone about it to get accountability as soon as possible.  Then stop making up silly excuses and deal with the issue.

And remember, if you need help getting down from the counter you climbed onto, just ask your Heavenly Father for help. He is always faithful and listening.

Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for the little lessons that we can learn from watching our children.  Thank you for being a patient Father to us when we as adults act like children.

Lord, I want to pray for bonds to be broken for those reading this. Lord, please release those in bondage to habits or lies.  Reveal your truths to each individual, that they may feel your love and kindness.  Please send accountability and help to those who need it.  Please let us depend on you and not on earthly things we may seek comfort from.  Let us not have idols of food, phone games, unhealthy relationships, shopping, alcohol, gossip, fear, or any other thing that can distract us from you.  Lord, release these bonds and let us find freedom and comfort in you instead.  When we begin to desire what is unhealthy, give us new purpose to fill that void..

Lord, you are ruler over all the earth. Let us desire you above all else.  Lord, thank you for showing us how we can seek after you more fervently.  We love you, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

 

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