Wednesday, February 13, 2013

When I Rise Up

One morning while we were in America, halfway into my first cup of coffee, my pre-teen daughter sprung a doozy on me.  The 6:00 am news mentioned homosexuality, and she had half a dozen questions.  Shaking the last cobwebs of sleep out of my head, I perched on the edge of the couch and tried to explain. 

Cup of coffee with beansThe easy part was pointing out the facts. I've explained the word circumcision to a curious group of college-aged ESL students.  This was nothing! I can clear up the confusion about the difference in homosexual, transvestite, and transexual in 5 minutes.  No big deal. 
Harder was helping her sort out the difference in the attitude she saw on the news, the harsh and ugly "Christian" attitude we see parodied in the media (and unfortunately sometimes in real life), and the complex truth that scripture presents.  From the news she got those three politically correct words entirely without context.  She only vaguely knew what they meant and she understood even less of what they implied. At 11years old she sees the world in black and white.  We've spent more than half of her life in a place where homosexuality is still widely disapproved of and "tolerance" is a high-school level vocabulary word not a battle cry. From Bible class she knew that God forbade homosexual behavior and that Jesus said, "Judge not that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1) Mix all this together and you have a recipe for confusion.  

We took the question back to Jesus.  We talked about the story of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7).  You remember it don't you? I've written about it before.  Simon invites Jesus to dinner and an uninvited "bad girl" comes and cries all over Jesus' feet.  Simon is offended by her moxie but Jesus is moved.  He tells Simon the story of the two debtors then to woman he says, "Your sins have been forgiven."  

I pointed out to my girl that Jesus does not pretend that the life the woman has been living is okay.  He knows her sin.  There's no condescending "tolerance" here.  No "acceptance" of the facts that are driving her to weep.  

"But Jesus didn't reject her either!" my daughter interjected. Exactly right. That was left to Simon.  Both judge and jury, he decided she was unworthy.  Jesus looked at her and loved her.  Finding a way to join Jesus by naming sin truthfully and in love pointing to the forgiveness God has to offer is a lot more complex than any sound bite, news show, or motto on a picket sign can convey.

But that wasn't the hardest part of all.  The really tricky moment came before the conversation began.  It was when my eyes were heavy with sleep, my coffee cup was calling from the kitchen, and she called, "Mom?" and I answered, "Huh?" I was the trusted adult she was asking for spiritual advice.  She was trying her best to sort out not only right and wrong but what a godly attitude towards sin looks like.  And me?  I was trying not to yawn.  It couldn't wait till I woke up.   I wasn't going to get a second chance.  My girl was having a "Whatsoever" moment.  She was trying to think about something holy and she needed my help.  

This time I won.  I had been thinking about holy things like the story of Jesus and Simon, and I had the resources to answer her question.  Even half-awake I recognized that this was the "rising up" that Moses had in mind in Deuteronomy 11.

Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

I did not think that this journey into Philippians 4 had anything to do with my parenting.  But when I am reading well, thinking well, and focused on the true, honorable, pure, right and lovely, I am more mindful, even at the least convenient moment, and a mindful mom is just what my girl needs. 
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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