Two days ago, I had a blasphemous thought: Would Jesus have remained sinless if he had had to parent my kids? And while I know that that thought shouldn’t have crossed my mind, it did. And, truthfully, on this particular night, I was convinced that even Jesus would’ve lost his cool when He saw his little kids lying amidst papers and toys strewn across the playroom floor after two weeks of ordering them to clean up. I was convinced that the sounds of whining and crying from his oldest and the touch of toddlers clinging to His leg while having tantrums would’ve had Him calling one of the disciples to come babysit so He could head to Starbucks, hiding from the sight of any people three feet tall and under.
After a miserable previous week, I had started this week off fresh. With a new idea tucked away in my brain, I loaded up the girls and headed to Target for some incentive stickers. And even though the Disney princess stickers cost $6 when a pack of butterfly and flower stickers cost half that amount for twice the number, I went through the check-out line with the princesses and a pack of Star Wars stickers for Caleb. After all, for the incentive to work, the kids had to be excited about their prize. I was sure they would pick up their toys for a sticker.
So when we reached the end of the week with two barren charts except for a few stickers awarded ( one sticker stolen, not earned) merely for the kids to realize that they could, in fact, earn stickers, I threw up my hands in desperation. And as I hung my head in defeat and contemplated if Jesus would, in fact, sin, I also thought about a question that I was first asked my senior year in high school.
My mom had come home from the Christian book store one day with a handful of bracelets.
“What are these?” I asked.
I looked over the letters ‘W.W.J.D’ embroidered on the cloth.
“It stands for ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ and when someone asks you what it means, you’re supposed to give them the bracelet.
I remember giving some to my boyfriend and hearing his experience having given his away to a girl in his math class:
“She told me it was really hard to smoke wearing that bracelet!”
In high school, when I asked the question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ I knew the answer. He wouldn’t want me to rebel against my parents by smoking. He wouldn’t want me to cheat on tests or make fun of the awkward boy in my math class. He would want me to try my hardest, act respectfully to my teachers, love my neighbors.
But the other day, as I stood in my kitchen and asked myself that question again, I answered honestly I don’t know.
I thought about the life of Jesus, and since he was not a human parent to any children, I could only look to how he treated those he encountered.
I considered the option of teaching my children in parables:
There once was a mother Wolf spider. She had three children who crawled around under her legs and wouldn’t grow up fast enough. So she ate them.
I wasn’t sure that parables would be the most effective method for my young audience.
And I wasn’t sure what method to use instead. I didn’t know if Jesus would praise the ‘Naughty Step’ or give a swift spanking. I wasn’t sure if He would hand out stars on chore charts or box up toys that had littered the floor one day too many. I wasn’t sure of much other than that He would love.
He would teach them in a way that they would know their sins without feeling the weight of condemnation, being clothed in forgiveness instead.
And they would know love.
And it is this love that would compel them to obedience, to following the One who called.
I find the job of ‘mother’ extremely frustrating sometimes. I have more questions than answers, and I feel the weight of my responsibility to these three precious lives. And most mornings, I wake up not knowing how to discipline a child who isn’t motivated by punishment or reward.
But I can start with love.
And while I don’t know how to do it as perfectly as Jesus, I do have that motherly instinct. And I know the love Jesus has bestowed on me.
So I start there. With love. Some days it’s all I have.
Have you ever pictured Jesus as a parent to your children? How do you think He would respond? Join in the conversation below, or add your own post describing a spiritual journey you are currently taking.
And for those wanting to embark on a different kind of journey, Nikki invited me to share my thoughts on potty-training. I find the timing of these two posts ironic, the one where I say I don’t know how to parent and the next where I give out advice! I’d love for you to check out her site and add any other tips on potty-training that you can offer.