Sunday, November 3, 2013

Following the Train Back to the Station

Every "Bible Study" that I have been a part of has been a faith-defining experience.  For the purposes of this statement, a Bible Study is defined as a small group of Christians meeting regularly to study the Bible outside of the traditional Sunday and Wednesday meetings.  In this personal and comfortable environment, it's easy to open up and focus in on specific struggles or issues; three years ago, this would have meant lying and sneaking around for me, but today I face a different set of problems: speaking without thinking and maintaining a healthy relationship with my parents.  I'll talk about the former some other day, but this post is going to explore the latter.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

My parents did train me up in the way I should have gone.  Do your homework before you play.  Memorize as many verses as you're allowed to for Awana.  Don't play in the sink-- it wastes water.  But, somehow, I did manage to depart from it, as you already know from reading the first paragraph.  I struggled A LOT with lying in the past, and, as a result, I lost a lot of the trust that my parents gave so freely before they found forged signatures on report cards and Skype history reflecting calls until five in the morning with girls they'd never heard of.  The unraveling of the web of lies that I had been weaving for upwards of four or five years was the first, and probably most significant, crack in my relationship with Mom and Dad.  But, of course, the Bible isn't wrong; I'm not old, yet, and I'm working on returning to what my parents taught me when I was younger because, in all honesty, I was much wiser.  I kept my mouth shut and did what Mommy and Daddy told me (which covers both of my biggest problems today).

"Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."
Colossians 3:21

I've often felt that my father (or parents, as the verse probably refers to both of them) was (were) guilty of this.  But, when I look back, I see that nothing has ever been expected of me that was not within my potential to achieve and no punishment was ever given to me that was not well-deserved.  I've had few (practically no) responsibilities around the house.  My parents don't worry whether my mile time is faster or slower this year than last.  All that's ever been expected of me is a good report card, which is possible for anyone with the right amount of work.  Given all of this, I think it's safe to say that my parents have never provoked me to anger in a way that contradicted the teachings of the Bible.  The many times that I've found myself angry with them, it's been because I've had a selfish perspective, and I feel silly for being frustrated with them for trying to help me succeed.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right."
Ephesians 6:1

This verse couldn't be much clearer.  It's underlined in my Bible.  I had it taped to the wall back home.  It's something I've struggled with for a long time.  It's something almost everyone struggles with.  To me, it's always seemed that I have to many rules to follow, but I'd rather have a hundred restrictions than none at all.  Someone who I respect oodles and oodles told me just the other day that I'm lucky to have parents who are involved enough to punish me when I screw up and push me when I slack off.  There are people out there who are entirely self-motivated, directed, and supported, and I'm blessed to have the motivation, direction, and support of two God-fearing individuals who, though I've betrayed their trust and failed to meet their expectations again and again, have never given up on me.

The title and introduction to the blog don't make any sense.  I know.  But I'm getting there.  My old youth pastor, who has become infamous for his ridiculous metaphors, once said to me during a Bible Study that a train travels a long way before it gets to its destination, but if you follow it all the way back to the station, it's origin is always the same.  With my parents, that origin is love, and, even though by the time the train gets to me it may not seem like it, everything they do to and for me is because they love and want what's best for me.  Sometimes, it's hard to believe, but that's because you can't see the station from the destination.  While this may not have been the analogy I would have used, I think it does a decent job describing the situation.

Thanks, parents.  I'm not as grateful as I should be-- I promise I'm working on it.