The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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The Joy of Parenting

Beware the easy laugh.   We all know how to elicit them from our friends – simply criticize the things we believe in most.  People make snide comments about marriage or church,  even though they have a great marriage or love their church — and people laugh.  Try it and see.  The next time you are in a setting where someone is getting married, be the first to predict gloom, loss of freedom, or the consequences of sharing a bathroom with the opposite sex.  People will laugh and you will enjoy your own wit.  In fact, you will enjoy it enough to try it again the next time the opportunity presents itself.  But remember to beware the easy laugh because it usually comes at the expense of someone else – or something you really believe in.  Your friends will think you are funny, but you will help tear down a cherished part of your life for the sake of showing off your sense of humor.

Not long before the wedding of Jordan, our younger daughter, I mentioned this temptation to her in a moment of fatherly advice about marriage. I encouraged her not to fall victim to it; rather, to say good things about marriage and family life.  I reminded her that if we  rob others of the joy we find in marriage for the sake of being the group’s comedian, we participate in weakening an institution already on shaky ground in our society.

I don’t think Jordan or I mentioned it again until late last week when she emailed me a link to an article she had found on the internet.  It is about how parents rob each other of today’s joy by looking at their future relationship with their children with cynicism.   In a moment when a preschooler has won your heart, people will say, “Just wait.”   The joy can’t last forever.  After all, the child will grow up to be an obnoxious teenager.

I don’t know if these people are after a laugh, or whether they are simply cynical, but I hear similar comments.  The writer goes on to report, “I felt trapped in a swirl of know-it-alls who were warning me that the worst was yet to come.”  To predict the pending doom of the teenage years may get a laugh, or it may get a lot of agreeing nods from other skeptics, but it also robs everyone of the joy of parenting in the present.   With that kind of attitude, I doubt today’s lost joy will be found later during the teenage years.  It is just stolen, never to be recovered.  What a high price to pay for a laugh or an agreeing roll of the eyes.

Read the whole article: Joy or “Just Wait”?

Jordan said the article reminded her of what I had said about marriage.  She said it also reminded her of the kind of parent she wants to be: the kind that builds up family life for herself and for others.  The kind that encourages all families.  The kind that has joy now with a toddler and celebrates the possibilities of the future at any age.  With that desire, she’s found the joy of parenting, hasn’t she?

The fact she wants these things has added to mine.

 

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comments

This is right on target Joel. Thanks for writing it.

Marie Edwards

April 23, 2013

Thanks, Marie. The satisfaction of seeing your grown children love their families is one of life’s best blessings, isn’t it?

Joel

jsnider

April 24, 2013

It is way past Jan. 1, and I am making two new resolutions that I had not previoulsy considered. I will do my best not to go through doors first. And maybe more important I will not try to get a laugh at the expense of someone else. Thanks. Ken

Ken Nance

April 23, 2013

Ken,

A few years ago I made a commitment not to use marriage or family as the butt of any joke, particularly in preaching. I realized to do so was defeating the purpose of supporting the role of family. Thanks, for reading and commenting.

Joel

jsnider

April 24, 2013