The Perfect Parent: God the Father Looks Out for Us

The vocation of parent is the ultimate paradox. It is at once viscerally sweet, compelling, and satisfying—and then also just not. Not at all any of those things. In fact, parenting is often the very absence of those things, especially when life goes sideways in any of the many ways that life can.

The Duality of Mom

What a weird duality. What an absolute ride.

Even those who are not parents understand this paradox, having likely had parents themselves. We have all probably said, “My patience is getting pretty thin, kiddo!” or have been on the receiving end of the sentiment at some point growing up. I know I have. Just this last week, I used that exact phrase toward my younger daughter. She was actively undermining every shred of visceral parenting bliss that exists in our mother/child dynamic with her seven-year-old stubbornness—while her father was away at sea and her elder sister was sick, no less.

And because I am a rotten and sinful human being, as we all are, that thin patience snapped entirely. Cranky words flew. Consequences came forth with abandon. Christmas was canceled.

I joke somewhat. But the point is that I was susceptible to my impatient, sinful nature as a parent this week, and I needed to humble myself and make amends with my daughter for letting a lack of emotional regulation get the better of me. (All is well now. She saw the error of her ways as much as I saw the error of mine. We both vowed to have what she termed “fat patience” with each other going forward. Sweetness restored.)

I reflect now on something I try to explain to my daughter often: our guidelines and expectations for good behavior don’t exist because we, as her parents, want to bully or manipulate our children. We don’t force her to behave to paint a nice picture for outward appearances or intend to kill her sense of fun by asking her to heed our instruction. So why do we encourage good behavior and try to guide our children in that way?

It’s for the same reason our heavenly Father does: so that it may go well with us.

“Keep His statutes and His commandments . . . that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for all time” (Deuteronomy 4:40). The verse is as applicable to us now as it was to the children of Israel poised to enter the Promised Land. Apart from Christ, we will fail as miserably as Old Testament Israel did. But washed clean by His blood and strengthened by the Spirit through Word and Sacrament, we are given the bounds of God’s Law for our good—to keep us safe, healthy, and well-adjusted, just as we place boundaries for our children to keep them safe, healthy, and well-adjusted. When we operate within the frameworks of God’s original design, we eliminate many of the risks and dangers and pitfalls associated with our now-fallen world. We sidestep the devil’s attempts to lead us astray to our own detriment. We become able to serve others effectively and avoid hurting them with our not-fat patience.

God’s Law Is Love

There is a lyric in the third stanza of the Christmas carol “O Holy Night” that stands out to me every time I hear it: “His Law is love, and His Gospel is peace.” I think we often, as good Lutherans do, tend to focus on the second part of the phrase. His Gospel is peace. And rightly so—that’s the crux of our theology. But even still, I find myself more often drawn to the first part. His Law is love. Jesus said these words at the Last Supper: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). His Law is love. Not dictatorship or belligerence. Not a power trip. Not some crucible we must epically overcome to prove ourselves to God (newsflash: we can’t), lest we go straight to hell.

What a comforting thought, that we strive to follow the Law because it is God’s devoted attentiveness to all people, clearly defined. It exists for our good—not our torment. It exists to prove that God loves us—just as we, though less successfully, want to show love to our own children.

Parenting is tough; however, remembering that our heavenly Father not only sets the best example of the vocation but also is the best Father to each of us makes the role a little easier. Especially when squaring off with rampant childhood stubbornness. My patience may ebb with my children, but God’s patience never grows thin.

I wish you all a very happy New Year. May we all heed the guiding love of God, feel the peace of the Gospel, and have very fat patience.

Scripture: ESV®

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Written by

Kelly Nava

Kelly is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a mama of two. She holds a BA with a double major in English and theatre from Concordia University in Irvine, California (2006) and an MA in teaching: speech and theatre from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri (2008). Kelly is a freelance copyeditor, a sometimes-writer, an aficionado of life’s simple pleasures, and a self-professed universal stick in the vein of G. K. Chesterton’s writings.

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