Far from learning obedience in three easy lessons, my children (as well as I) continue to learn and wrestle with what it means to obey.
I’ve been talking with my children lately about the relationship between trust and obedience. These are not long conversations. In fact, they are short, but seem to be coming frequently enough that I hope I’m not nagging. I’m realizing how often a failure to obey in one child is a result of a lack of trust. I see evidence in a lack of trust in how they obey, too. Innocent asking for clarification is sometimes a child evaluating for himself whether the command was appropriate. The other day, David was bothered that I allowed the sisters to make cookies without him. I had my reasons, but to explain them would have been inappropriate. The next morning, when I asked him to make the second batch, I asked him if he now understood one reason I wasn’t worried about equality. He got it. I think now, after discussing the relationship between trust and obedience, I simply use the word trust, and it carries the meaning I want. Will you trust me? instead of Will you obey me? I won’t always use this phrase, but right now it’s a good reminder for us.
Then comes introspection. Should I be asking for that trust? In any case, I need to be aware in how I hold the trust that is certainly and naturally given. Am I using my children as servants simply for my own comfort and ease? (e.g., Honey, please stop you game and get me my phone as I sit here on the couch checking Facebook.) Am I faithful to be satisfied with the responsibilities I have given, or do I add jobs on as they work harder? Am I capricious in my consequences? Am I teaching them that obedience is not simply trusting a parent, because parents fail, in spite of our best intentions? Obedience is ultimately trusting God. (A faithful teacher years ago made that same observation regarding submitting to a husband.) Do I have a track record of having reasons for saying no, or is no my default answer? Do I answer too quickly when a request is made, and need to change my answer when I’ve thought more about it?
It follows to ask myself, how do I trust God? Many of the obedience challenges I’ve had comprise a multitude of choices over a period of time. I’m happy to obey at the beginning of a new situation or challenge, but as time goes on, it can sometimes be harder to trust and obey. I should think on his for awhile, in the quiet of the morning that God gave me.
I am working on teaching my children to trust and obey, but I’m also praying that God would help me to be a trustworthy parent, to obey him faithfully.