If the main love language of my children is ‘acts of service’, then the most appreciated act was always helping them up and down the stairs. With each of them, it got to the point where they were so sure that I would catch them that they would leap off the stairs. The trust was not always merited, as it was only by God’s grace I did not drop one when they would leap when I was not ready.

 

Children do not often understand the full extent of the risks. They tend to act based off of what they have seen previously and make assumptions about what will happen in the future. As adults, we do not lose all of that tendency. We gain more experiences that help us to be more adaptable, but we revert to making simple assumptions when we can.

 

This becomes a problem when we become Christians. If we base our behaviors in life off of assumptions, what assumptions can we bring into our relationship with God? One of the most powerful questions I can ask in counseling is grounded in this concept. When someone is not feeling the peace and joy that we were promised, I frequently ask them, “How has your experience with your parents affected how you view God?”

 

Many problems that we think are related to our circumstances are actually spiritual problems at their root. Feeling torn between work obligations and family responsibilities? The right path lies with the One who cares more about your career and family than you do (Luke 12:7). Feeling stuck with how to handle a relationship? Start with the only One that can give us a relationship that can satisfy (Jeremiah 31:25). Stressed over finances? There is One that owns all the cattle on the hill (Psalm 50:10). All of these problems feel like issues of circumstances, but have a spiritual root at their core.

 

What does this have to do with our parents? If we learned as children that we needed to be the adults, finances are going to be stressful. If we learned as children that if we do not navigate relationships correctly, things will fall apart, then every relationship will come with emotional burden. If we learn as children that we are the only ones that will take care of ourselves, then every challenging circumstance is a threat, as we have no safety net if we make a mistake.

 

In Matthew 18, Jesus responds to a question of who is the greatest by commanding the disciples to be like children. This rings true for us as well. The only way to combat the world’s pressure to be ‘the greatest’ in every aspect of our lives, to have nothing but ‘great’ things happen for us, is to let go of our family history and approach God as children. Even the best parents were not able to catch us every time in every area of our lives, but we serve a God that will never let us go.

 

Jesus is showing us the way to let go of the stress in our lives and to get to the root of our spiritual and circumstantial issues. If we let go of our expectations, like a child, we can feel free to leap into the arms of our father in every area of our lives. If we trust that God is a perfect parent, an adult like none we have ever known, then the feelings of being trapped or stuck go away. How could we be trapped if the best parent in the world is going to catch us? We will spend the rest of our lives trying to understand as much of the depths of God’s love as we can. As it says in Ephesians 3:19, the love of Christ surpasses knowledge. But if we can seperate our understanding of God from our expectations of parents, from our expectations of bosses, from our expectations of kings, then we can plunge further into the depths of that love and the everlasting joy that comes with it.

 

- by Craig Constantinos