Sunday, February 21, 2010

Accusing God for the Sins of our Parents

Ever since the age of eight, I strongly have maintained that my parents favored my younger brother over me. Don't get me wrong: I knew my parents loved me. I was just convinced that they loved my brother more.

Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that my recollection of my childhood is shaped by my own bias. I have discussed this issue with my parents at length throughout my childhood and adolescence, and they never agreed with my assessment. (It wasn't until my brother and I were both adults that they began to see some credibility in my claims.) But nevertheless, whether the alleged favoritism was real or perceived, the result is the same: it had a major impact on my view of my parents, and I transferred that over to my Father in heaven.

The main thing that used to upset me was that I felt my brother and I were not equally disciplined. Name any transgression of your choice: coloring on the walls, breaking an expensive vase, throwing a temper tantrum, etc. My position has always been that my parents would discipline me harshly for my behavior. But if my brother were at fault, my parents would find a way to excuse it. "He's so little, he doesn't know any better!" was the justification I was given when he was only three years old. As my brother grew, that line was not going to work, so my parents found other reasons to indulge in his every whim: "It's just easier to give him what he wants than causing a scene in the store," or, "We only gave in because he doesn't deal with disappointment as well as you do." Whether or not I was assessing the situation accurately, it caused me to resent my brother and distrust my parents' love for me. Every discussion about this with my parents would end with my mother saying, "Just remember, you are both my children, and I love you equally." I would think (and sometimes even vocalize): "Yeah. Sure, mom. That could be true in theory, but it really doesn't feel that way in practice."

So Christ died for the little wretch. SO WHAT?Fast forward to today. I hated my sister in Christ. People tried to reason with me in an effort to bring me out of this sin, saying, "Can't you just view her as someone Christ died for?" Honestly, I could see where they were going with this, but it meant nothing to me. So Christ died for the little wretch. SO WHAT? Christ died for me too, didn't He? Does this mean I get to misbehave too? Look, I get it in theory. But when I see people making excuses for this sister's inappropriate behavior, it certainly doesn't feel true in practice.

What did this do to my walk? It drove a wedge between me and God. I did not go to Him for my needs. I figured it is pointless for me to ask Him for things, since there are other Christians asking for the same things, and He'd probably just give those blessings to them instead of me. The Bible says "You have not because you do not ask." But I did not ask because I was convinced that all parents are the same, and that included my Heavenly Father. I read passages of Scripture which describe how God loves to lavish blessings upon His children, and I believed it. But I was convinced that these passages were referring to His other children, not me.

I hated this sister in Christ because I saw her doing things that I judged to be inappropriate. Did God do anything? Nooooo. He just let her get away with it (or so it seemed). But if I were to do those same things, God would discipline me. Yes, I knew the Bible says that those He loves He disciplines (Hebrews 12), but I felt like that's only half the story. I felt that the Bible should also mention that that those He loves more are the ones He apparently lets off scot-free. Never mind that I deserve hell and I'm getting off scot-free myself. All that mattered was that this other person appeared to be getting away with things that I wasn't getting away with, so that meant God loves her more. Makes sense, right?

To make matters worse, I also spent years of my life thinking that God loves His sons more than He loves His daughters. The simple fact that He chose to put me in a woman's body was an act of cruelty, as far as I was concerned. The souls He favored were created as men, given to rule over those children He didn't love as much, created as women. If you are a woman, I assumed that was because He just didn't like you as much. It's just the way it is, because parents aren't fair. I grew up in a very old-school Italian-American family. The women exist to wait on the chauvinistic men. In God's economy, "submit to your husband" couldn't possibly be any different that what I witnessed growing up, could it?

Well I do not deserve it, but God has had mercy on me. He has shown me that these ideas are complete garbage, manufactured in hell's great factory of lies. God is perfect, and human parents are not. Human parents are going to fail us every time. If we insist on judging the character of God based on the actions of our sinful parents, we will never understand God. If we really want to know the true character of God, we must base our understanding of Him on Scripture.

Perhaps you were the victim of physical or emotional abuse. Perhaps you were abandoned. Perhaps your parents repeatedly broke their promises to you. Friends, this has NOTHING to do with God. And so now when Satan tries to feed me this trash, I lash out with my sword. My Bible tells me that God is not a respecter of persons, "for there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:11). Is God a hypocrite, that He would show partiality but instruct me not to do the same? (James 1). NO. I will come boldly to my Daddy's throne! My requests are not insignificant to Him, for if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe me? (Matthew 6:30). Furthermore, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). How can I possibly cling to this preposterous idea that God favors His other children over me, when He poured out the wrath meant for me upon His son, with whom He is well pleased? (Matthew 3:17).

It pleased the Lord to bruise Christ (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus could at any time have protested and cried "Foul!" It is not fair that He was punished for something I did, yet He did not open His mouth (Isaiah 53:7). How then, can I complain that God has treated another Christian unfairly by letting them get away with bad behavior while I supposedly suffer under rebuke? How can I hate another when Christ died for me, while yet a sinner myself? (Romans 5:8).

Perhaps you did not experience favoritism in your family (real or perceived), but your parents sinned against you in other ways. Perhaps you were the victim of physical or emotional abuse. Perhaps you were abandoned. Perhaps your parents repeatedly broke their promises to you. Friends, this has NOTHING to do with God. God is not out to hurt you. God will never leave you or forsake you. God will never lie to you!!! When the accuser tries to condemn us, we know there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) So why would we willingly believe these ridiculous, unfounded accusations against the Lord Himself?

This is a call to brethren everywhere to fight the good fight of faith. Sling those swords, sisters. It's time to cut these lies up once and for all and defend the truth about our God, even if it is only to ourselves! That being said, I'd like to report that I HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN SET FREE OF THE SIN OF HATRED!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

SHEologian Spotlight: Abigail

As you may recall from my last post, I recently went through some of the profiles of our followers here on the site, as well as some other venues, just to see what kind of people are reading our thoughts. I mentioned that I'd like to honor some of our readers out there with a series I've decided to call "SHEologian Spotlight." It is my pleasure to begin this series by honoring a young woman named Abigail.

Now just to be clear so you know how this works, Abigail is a total stranger to me. We have never met. The idea is to try to appreciate something about a total stranger as a way to encourage her, but also, to encourage us all (myself included) to simply appreciate the beauty in every single one of God's children. The best way I know how to do this is to view someone's blog. So much of a person's heart, soul, and identity is invested in her blog. So without further ado, here is what I can gather about Abigail from her blog:

About Abigail
Abigail is 21 years old and lives in Connecticut. She is a wife and a mother. Abigail appears to be a serious student of the Word. Her blog postings reflect a sincere desire to not just know the Word, but to apply it to her life.

What Attracted Me To Her Blog
When I first read through some of Abigail's postings, I was immediately drawn to the transparency and humility in her writings. She writes very openly and frankly about her struggles, as well as theological issues or questions pertaining to Christian living in general. As I continued to read, I was taken by her commitment to finding answers to her questions, using Scripture as her foundation. For example, in one of her postings, Abigail wrote about coming to a particular decision regarding an issue of Christian living. As someone who holds the entirely opposite perspective, I was thoroughly impressed by Abigail's ability to make a decision - a solid decision - based on logical reasoning from the Scriptures. When a reader disagreed with her, Abigail did not waver in her position one bit. She stood strong, and did so with grace. I cannot help but admire a person who makes choices based on what she reads in Scripture, but beyond this, Abigail has a real sense of peace about her decisions. Her steadfast conviction is something I admire and I am working to solidify in my own walk with the Lord.

Abigail also seems to have a teachable spirit. From what I can gather, she has some older readers that are more than willing to offer her comfort and advice in a Titus 2 sort of way. When I read through some of the comments of these readers, I can sense that they too, have been taken by her honesty. The comments are lengthy, detailed, and genuinely heartfelt as her readers offer their advice. I marveled at that, not knowing if these people know her personally or not, but if they don't, it says a lot about Abigail's ability to reach across this cyber-divide and express a side of her humanity that speaks volumes to those who are listening. And Abigail is always gracious and grateful in responding to these comments.

Why I am Grateful for Abigail
I am grateful for Abigail's presence on the internet for several reasons. At 21, she has a wisdom that I never had at that age (even though I was a Christian). Reading her thoughts makes me all the more aware of God's grace in someone's life. When I think of what the average 21-year-old is most likely concerned about these days, and then I read Abigail's blog, it certainly gives one cause to rejoice!

Secondly, I have learned a lot from Abigail. Learning from someone younger than ourselves can be a humbling experience. Perhaps my favorite post of hers was a piece about how boring it can be to be in the home at times. The laundry is done, then it gets dirty again, and then it has to be done all over again. These are the mundane moments that I conveniently forget when I am tempted to glamorize marriage and motherhood. I came across that post on a day when I was feeling sorry for myself for being single. Abigail's honesty made me realize that nobody has it "better" than anybody else. We all have our ups and downs, and we need to be grateful for what the Lord has ordained for every one of our steps.

Finally, Abigail's recent search for identity recently hit me at a time when I tend to become reflective about my own life. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes. It reminds me of the second reason I write: I write for my readers. (The first reason I write is for God.)

The blog that I originally read is gone. Abigail has begun a new blog, and from what I can see, it still contains the honesty, transparency, and humility of her first blog, but the new blog is symbolic of a fresh start in Abigail's faith. I am excited to see what God does in her life this year.

If you would like to meet Abigail, visit her blog:
Uniqueness in Christ

Please Note: The SHEologian Spotlight series is designed to honor our readers, whomever they may be. We do not necessarily agree with everything that is posted on other people's blogs. We recognize some of these views may likewise differ from yours. Should you desire to pursue these issues further with any of the individuals featured in this series here or on their blogs, we humbly ask that you keep the discussion friendly and irenic in the spirit of brotherly love. Thank you and God Bless!