O Lord you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hands.
Parenting is perhaps the best way for us to understand the joys and frustrations of the heart of God. And by parenting, I mean the care and nurture of children and even our critters. The joys of teaching self-love and care and sufficiency and generosity, the triumph of good and well-received discipline and encouragement, the despair of failure or disobedience. In fact, Yiddish, a modern dialect of Hebrew, holds two words that reflect these emotions. One, for the pride only a parent can feel for a child (I think grandparents, uncles, teachers, pastors, and coaches experience it too)... "naches." The other Yiddish word is for the shame or embarrassment only a parent can feel when their child does something wrong.
Both of these words reflect the outer ranges of the emotional journey of parenting. And I believe this helps us understand God and our relationship with God. How often do we growl in frustration when clear boundaries are tested or broken? How often do we sigh when priorities aren't met or expectations are dismissed or our best example isn't followed? How often are we angered or discouraged by a lack of respect or obedience or interest in the important lessons and experience and love we offer? And by that same turn, how do our hearts leap when they finally understand or eagerly go above and beyond or care for a sibling or friend or stranger or show compassion for someone in need or use their gifts to help shape the world?
In my calmest moments, after my kids or youth have frustrated me or let me down, I wonder to myself how often my own bad choices have given God reason to ache in God's heart or growl under God's holy breath. I've been known to mutter what my dad used to say, "some species eat their young." But then one of my kids does a chore for their mother without being asked or my youth lead worship and say powerful things we all need to hear, and I feel that naches deep in my heart. I sometimes hashtag youth photos with "#youthpastornaches." And I think, maybe I can strive to make my Lord feel that way too. And most days, that's enough.
Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to make the choices you have called me to make, to follow the example of your son, and to be an example to the ones who look to me. Amen.