The Ordination Lesson: practicing kenosis-parenting

“If you should happen to catch a glimpse of what really matters in life, regard it with care. Decorate it with flowers. Cover it with love. Hold it in the sunshine. Give it a little bit of time and attention. And when the world tries to push you forward, listen to your heart instead. Because if you don’t make time for what really matters, no one is going to do it for you…” –Rachel Macy Stafford 

Last Sunday, I was ordained as a deacon at my church.

We sat in chairs around the room and people slowly mulled through the spaces around us,

stopping by to lay hands,

to give a quick, quiet prayer or encouraging word.

My four year old, Eliot, came to me and took my hands and looked deep in my eyes,

asking without words, Mama, let me be with you.

“Some genius and a great deal of love. They are a grand team, and, when well driven, astonish the world by the time they make it in the great Race.” -Louisa May Alcott


When these things happen, these momentous events, we want them to happen slowly, to let things sink in and simmer for awhile without distraction.

I struggled through the morning about how to do it, how to keep this sacred space for myself–

But when my son is asking to share a holy moment with me,

I give in to kenosis– a pouring out of my own power–

and I invite him to pray over me.

I invite him to stay with me, to give himself to whatever God is speaking into his little world.

And when he speaks the words, “Jesus, please give her peace, and just be with her,” well, that’s all the prayer I’ll need for a long time.

When your children pray for you, listen to them.

Those are holy words,

not meant to be ignored or quickly forgotten.


As people, we naturally want to hold special moments for ourselves, because sometimes they mean the world to us.

They are an experience for us–the child, and God–the parent.

And we examine whether we can handle our own children mucking up the magic or distracting us from the words we need to hear.

But when your four year old is at your knee, his head rested on your lap,

the Spirit of God pulsing through his toddler-sized veins,

his tiny voice speaking life over your very being,

you have a choice to make.


The truth is,

our children want to know God with us.

Our children want to know good with us,

to practice kindness the way we do,

to learn humanity and holiness the way we’ve been learning it all these years.

If we don’t know how to give up our power, to practice kenosis,

then they won’t know how to, either, when the time comes.

So we choose to loosen our grip

and unclench our fists

and bring down our shoulders

and stretch out our hands,

where we find our children

waiting and ready to bring

the Gospel back to us.

Hallelujah and amen.


6 thoughts on “The Ordination Lesson: practicing kenosis-parenting

  1. Wow. This brings me to tears. Thank you for allowing God to use you as a vessel for soul oxygen. I felt myself breathe easier knowing what I need to do today is far less complicated than I thought. I will be stretching out my hands. Thank you, God. Thank you, my dear Kaitlin. I love you.

  2. Kaitlin, thank you. I’m beginning to suspect that kenosis is a discipline for all Christians in all situations and it is VERY hard and inconvenient. But for the good of the church and the world, Paul said, “Let this attitude be in y’all that you have in Christ Jesus, who . . . .emptied himself. . .”

  3. With Eliot’s hands in yours, I laid my hand on your shoulder and thought out loud: you have all the blessings you need. But not until your telling the story did I grasp how truly holy this moment was. What a gift you have! to see the holiness in everyday events, then, through your wordcraft, reveal that holiness to others!

    1. Rob, I knew your voice when I heard it. You are such an encouragement to the young parents in our church in the way you watch over and care for and shepherd us– truly. Thank you for being present and active in the health of our body.

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