During long drives in the car, I’ve had some difficult conversations with my boys about justice, the law, the difficult history that we’re a part of as native people and as Christians, and the overall climate of our nation today.
A hundred years ago, we probably would have been told that parenting is hard– just like it’s hard today. Maybe the world is worse in our century, or maybe it’s a little better– whatever it is, chaos is still present, and as parents, we still have a job to do.
So with that challenge in place, we pray that we lead our little ones both in the right way and in their own way— we help them find their gifts, we walk beside them, we teach them to value the journeys and stories of others, we discipline and shape their character, and we let them see the world with the tethering of hope through which Jesus saw it.
I don’t like living in a world in which I have to tell my son that laws are meant to protect people…usually.
I don’t like living in a world in which the history of indigenous people is known by stories of kids being taken from their savage parents and placed in boarding schools or with civilized, non-native families.
I don’t like living in a world in which my child’s sexuality is defined by their favorite color or toy preference or ability to be creative.
I don’t like living in a world in which the word enemy is defined by political party and reconciliation is not practiced enough between people of faith.
I love living in a world in which my boys can grow up to change laws.
I love living in a world in which we can challenge social norms with the power of shalom.
I love living in a world in which they can change history for their own people generations down the road,
that they can redefine what it means to be strong and brave and smart,
and that they can love their enemies and engage reconciliation on a daily basis.
Sometimes I wish Jesus had been a parent. Then maybe there would have been stories about his encounters with his kids that we could draw advice from–
That time his toddler threw a tantrum in the synagogue and he had to compassionately parent him into understanding;
That time they saw someone poor neglected by the law and he had to tell his kids why before they engaged in protest for the least of these against the rulers of their day;
That time he had to tell his teenager to fearlessly pray for a society that objectifies her, the same way he told her to stand tall and proud of who she is, that her voice matters, and that love trumps hate.
But we don’t have those kinds of stories.
We have stories that tell us he healed lepers and looked children in the eyes, that he challenged the concept of seen and not heard.
We know his heart, and it guides us in these days, in this country, in this world, in which we have all the things that make living difficult and all the things that make living sacred.
So if we know what Jesus was like, we walk in that spirit of shalom.
We teach our children the lessons that we learned and the lessons we should have learned. We teach them to be better and we don’t fear learning from them.
And in our social, political, and religious climate, we follow the rules of shalom– the rules of peace– and they guide us in our conversations, in our actions, in the way we interact with other human beings.
Because honestly, I don’t know how to be a parent now. I know that there is a Mystery within the realm of God that gives me strength when I need it, and that Jesus leads me, often through the lessons my little ones teach me.
I don’t know that the world today is any worse or any better than it was.
But I know that chaos cannot last forever, and in the midst of it, Jesus still makes all things new.
Teach us the lessons we don’t read on scripture pages.
Teach us the lessons that give us grace in our everyday lives,
lessons that remind us we are not alone,
we are not abandoned,
that you are the partner in all things we do.
You are the partner when we are at our wits’ end.
You are the partner that pushes us through the next challenge.
You are the partner that gives us grace to say no,
grace to change direction,
grace to start over.
So much is given to us in the words of scripture,
we learn so much in our humanity,
in our person-to-person encounters,
there is no way we can say
that we did not see you
here in our day,
in our time,
when we thought chaos would win.
And so we remember that you are better.
You are stronger.
You are a kind leader.
And we rest in the lessons you teach us right now, today.