Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Teaching of Kindness

Big families are complicated. With six kids in the family, there are fifteen different sibling relationships to figure out. Which is quite a lot, even before you take into account the complex ways in which those individual relationships affect one another, even before you add in the twelve parent-child relationships and one marriage. As my kids (and family!) grow, I've had to grow a lot too, and I've been scrambling to keep up with the challenge.

As I reevaluate my parenting strategies, I've been mulling over the book of Ephesians lately. I'm trying to practice the counter-instinctual, grace-infused rhythms of Christ-centered authority; the nourishing, self-giving, if-I-your-master-wash-your-feet-then-how-much-more authority of Jesus. The kind that doesn't come from threats or force, but teaching and up-drawing and the washing of water and the word, word, word.

So many words, and they can be so hard to find, buried in all the clutter and confusion. So many times, all I want to do is send everyone to separate rooms, put a quick stop to all the ugly words. Sometimes that's all I can do, and sometimes that's okay, but mostly I'm called to show up with the right words. The good words, the true words, the life-giving words of love and joy and peace.

And washing through my soul like water, I keep coming back to the words my wise husband repeats to me over and over: "the teaching of kindness is on her lips."

The teaching of kindness.

Teaching them kindly, teaching them to be kind.

Teaching them to use their words to offer healing and redemption. Teaching them to "step under the waterfall of God's grace," teaching them to offer that grace like water, until it soaks us all and transforms our family into a twenty-eight-fold image of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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