Any talks of parenting will inevitably lead to a couple of feelings. It will leave us with a greater sense of responsibility and significance in the things we should be doing as parents. Or we will feel an overwhelming sense of guilt by what we fail to do.
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When I envisioned family devotions in my head, it was always a picture of my kids hanging onto every word I say as I opened up the scriptures for them. I pictured my son interacting with me about the Bible story.
We have a two and a half year old at home. And on top of that he’s super affectionate, both in wanting give lots of hugs and kisses and in a desire to hit, push, or just smother his sister.
I’m no expert in building houses, but in my limited knowledge of house building I know that the beginning of the building process is very unsexy.
I think every little boy at some point decides to walk around the house in his mama’s shoes. I’ve seen my son does this. He also likes to play with his toy vacuum. This past weekend he played with a dollhouse. And recently, he chose the princess band-aids for his pretend injury (although he later regretted not choosing the batman ones).
And get this, I don’t think he’s having a crisis with his masculinity or what it means to be a boy.
This is just what kids do.
With the exception of my Jordans, my wife’s shoes are always more interesting for a two-year-old than mine would be. And he likes to vacuum because he sees me vacuum. And he likes the princesses because my wife loves the princesses, his friends do too, and his little sister is bound to be a huge fan.
And that’s okay.
But it raises the inevitable question what makes a man a man? How do we define masculinity? And when we expand that question into the lives of our children, what makes a boy a boy or a girl a girl?Boyhood gets linked to things like sports and rowdiness. Girlhood gets linked to things like sensitivity and creativity. But what happens to the boy who is emotional or the girl who wants to wrestle with the boys?
Some might say that the girl is a tom-boy. Or that the boy likes girly things. Some might even go the lengths of saying they are having a gender-identity issue. I’d be more likely to suggest that we simply have a definition issue; the way the world often defines manhood and womanhood is based on purely superficial things.
So, what makes a man a man?
I’m not very “manly” by most popular definitions. I’m not good a shooting a gun, I know nothing about fixing a car, and I’m not great a physical labor. I know how to change a tire and pump my own gas but that’s about the limit of my car knowledge. I can’t tell you about the cars I see on the road, I tend to be emotional, and I love to kiss and cuddle with my kids.
The problem is our world defines masculinity with superficial things. It defines masculinity by sports, alcohol, cars, and guns. Or it defines masculinity by even more dangerous things for our boys like the objectification of women.
I once had a conversation with a young man who simply because of the fact that so many other guys watch pornography that it caused him to question himself in his masculinity. This wasn’t a gender problem or a sexuality problem, it was a definition of manhood problem.
The way we define manhood in our world affects the way that men see themselves. It affects the way husbands see themselves. And it affects the way our little boys (and teenage boys and young men) see themselves.s
So what is a man?
A discussion on manhood could fill up pages and pages of discussion. But for our purposes here, I want to talk briefly of what might be one way to think about what men should be pursuing in their own lives. It is what I want for myself and what I want to model for my son. And it is the way I hope that I will define masculinity as it goes beyond superficial issues and gets to the heart of what it looks like to be a man of God.
In Ephesians 5 Paul uses Christ as the model that men should look to in loving their wives when he says, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” So if a husband is to love as God intends the manliest of husbands to love, it will look like Christ loved.
And therefore if we are going to teach our boys to be men, being a man is less about sports and guns and more about imitating Christ.
One of the ways that Jesus has been described throughout history has been having a three-fold office, basically this idea that Jesus related to people in three primary ways in his ministry.
Jesus was a prophet; he spoke God’s word to people. In Genesis, we see the failure of Adam as a prophet, when he fails to speak God’s words to his wife. And in Jesus, we see the opposite, Jesus perfectly speaks God’s word to us.
A man is called to speak God’s word in his home. He is called to be the mouthpiece of God to his family as he loves his wife and cares for his children. Are we teaching our boys to be God’s mouthpieces? Are we teaching them to speak God’s words in the context of our homes and in their relationships?
Jesus was also a priest. He was the mediator who stood before the Father on our behalf. And he is the one who cares for us. Just as Adam in Genesis is given the job to care for and cultivate the garden, man is given the job to care for and cultivate his own family.
A man is called to care for, to love, and to grow his family. He is the shepherd that cares for his little flock. Are we teaching our boys to become pastors of their future homes? Are we modeling what it looks like to shepherd and disciple our own families? Are we caring not only for the physical needs of our families but their spiritual needs?
Jesus was also known as the “King of Kings.” And as a King, Jesus protected his people. He was a warrior who went to battle for the sake of his people. When the devil raged war against Him, Jesus gave his life for us.
A man is called to be a protector of the family. While the priest shepherds and cares for the sheep; the King makes sure that the wolves get shot. A man protects his family and goes to fight for his family.
"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Are we teaching our boys to be protectors? Are we teaching them to fight for the things that matter? Are we teaching them to act like men, to be strong, and to do everything in love?
One of the primary desires of any Christian parent is to see their kids grow in their faith. Parents are the primary disciple-makers in the lives of their kids; when Jesus says “Go and make disciples,” this begins in the living room. So as parents, one of our primary vocations is to disciple our children. I’m by no means an expert of this, but there are some things that I’m doing that I enjoy and that I think are helpful in our home.
1. Find a good Bible and read it often.
Reading the Bible is a part of our bedtime routine. We do it every night in some form or fashion and this has been going on since before Eli could even understand we were reading the Bible. My goal in reading the Bible every night is that this would just be normal for our family. I want Elijah and Emaline to never think twice about reading the Bible before bed.
My wife recently blogged about the Bibles we love in our home if you want to know what ones we prefer.
2. Make your church home for them.
Being that I work at our church, this one is especially important to me. I want my family to feel like they own our church. I want them to feel like they are free to be themselves and love to be around “Daddy’s work.” For us, this means I do special things like let Eli play the drums when no one is around or go walking through the offices to see friends and family.
But even apart from church also being where I work, I want my kids to always see our church as their church home. I want it to be a family. And in order for that to happen, we have to be around church a lot - whether that be physically at a church function or simply with those who make up the church.
3. Sing Bible songs together.
I always knew Bible songs were valuable, but I kind of got caught off guard as to how soon they would become important. All of the sudden, I noticed Eli singing the words to “What does the fox say?” At that point, I realized I needed to start making sure that we listened to our Bible songs more frequently. We had already listened to Bible songs, but this prompted me to make sure it was on a regular rotation for our music in the car.
Bedtime also becomes the place where we are always singing. We have a few bible songs that we love by Matt Boswell. And I also always like to sing a few hymns every night to my kids as they go to sleep. And we still throw in some “What does the fox say?” or “Everything is Awesome” for good measure.
4. Encourage your kids to confess their sins.
Elijah is two. And that means he gets in trouble. A lot.
Since we started implementing time-outs as a method of punishment, we also made sure to add into that the importance of confessing our sins to Jesus. Whenever Eli gets sent to time-out (which is often), we set the timer on our phone and at the end have a little talk. It usually involves Eli telling me why he was in time-out, saying he was mean, and asking for a hug. Before he gets down I always make sure he says, “I’m sorry Jesus.” And once he does, as a dad, it’s my responsibility to make sure he knows his sins are forgiven. Then we get up and go say sorry to whoever else needs an apology.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but just a list of some things that I’m learning or have experienced others talk about doing.
What else has been helpful for you?
In our world it is easy to see marriage as nothing more than a piece of paper. But marriage is about more than a simple, legal binding between two parties. It is about two people before God, their family, and their friends making a promise.
This isn’t about negotiating a contract.
It’s not about scoring the better end of the deal. It’s not about making sure your benefits outweigh the costs. It’s not about making sure that you’ve made out better than the other person. This is not about being a consumer seeking a good bargain.
Our world loves bargains and business deals. But marriage is not one of them.
Marriage is about two people making vows. It’s a promise to one another and a promise to God.
This promise between a husband and a wife actually reflects the promise that God himself makes to his Church. Paul describes this in Ephesians 5 when he says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” This is the promise we see kept by God. Jesus Christ sacrifices his life for us despite our unfaithfulness.
Imagine that kind of promise. An unconditional, faithful, and forever love.
Although we’ve sinned, although we’ve fallen short, and although we do not deserve it - Jesus continues to love us. He gives up everything so that we might have everything. He makes us holy and clean. And in marriage, we reflect this same promise. If it were a contract, it would be about negotiating terms. But instead this is a covenant; it’s about making a vow. A vow to give sacrificially, to serve humbly, and love unconditionally just as Jesus himself did for every one of us.
Contracts are about the piece of paper. Contracts are about the legal agreement. Contracts are about what you can get from the other person. But this isn’t about the paper, it’s about vows.
But marriage is a promise that says, “I’m binding my life to yours forever.”
Marriage isn’t about a contract, it’s about a promise. The marriage part matters not because the piece of paper matters, but because in the promise to be a spouse, there’s a commitment that fulfill God’s calling to love and serve each other in your marriage.
In marriage we have a joining of two people that cannot be separated. In marriage, two are bound together. They are glued to one another for life. Sickness, tragedy, trials, and pain - none of these can separate the couple that has committed themselves to each other “till death do us part.”
You’ll notice this same language reflected when describing God’s relationship with us:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:38-39
No change in feelings, no loss of job, or no tragedy can separate the two that have been joined together. In marriage, we commit that even when the passion fades, the promise will always remain.
Everybody has a vocation. Vocation is a really just a fancy way of saying a “calling.” Our vocations are the way that God works in the world serving the world through us as we fulfill our vocations. And we all have these callings. God serves our schools as teachers teach, principals lead, and as students obey. God serves in our families as husbands love their wives, as wives love their husbands, and so on. Our callings extend into our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our churches, and into our homes.
One of the fascinating things about family, however, is that it is the first place that we all experience calling. Because we are all born into the vocation of a son or daughter. Families are full of different callings - each of which have different unique characteristics, responsibilities, and value.
Note: This list is really simplified and meant to scratch the surface. We could spend a lot of time on each of these individual vocations, so if you feel like one doesn’t say all that it should… it probably doesn’t.
The husband is the leader of the home. Ephesians calls the husband to love his wife the way that Christ loved the Church. This is a high calling, to be the sacrificial, loving leader of the home. Service and sacrificing for the benefit of the one he loves.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” - Ephesians 5:25
The wife has been called to her husband and to love her husband as the Church loves Christ. The calling of a wife is a distinct calling from her husband, yet equally sacred and important.
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” - Ephesians 5:21-22
A wife is called to submit to her husband.
Now this word can cause a lot of trouble, but it doesn’t need to. Because this is about mutual submission. She is not called to submit to him for the sake of him “lording it over her” but to submit to and serve her husband as he has also done for her.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” - Proverbs 31:10-12
A man, if he has kids, not only has the responsibility to lead his wife but to also lead his kids. The father provides for his family, protects his family, and also pastors his family. The calling of fatherhood is a call to disciple your children - to make sure they know they are loved by God and by their parents.
"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." - Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV
Moms have one of the most difficult callings there is. It’s one of the most important, yet it is also one of the most under-appreciated and exhausting callings there is. The most important work that any mom does is the work she does as a mother; and it is an exhausting, unpaid, holy calling to love, care for, and disciple her children.
"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed.” - Proverbs 31:26
The first vocation that we all have in life is the same. It’s the vocation of being a son or a daughter. This might be unusual, especially because we primarily begin to think of callings as what happens when we become adults. But this isn’t true, callings extend into childhood as - son/daughter, brother/sister, student, and friend.
"My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” - Proverbs 6:20 ESV
We could also add to this list things like brother and sister, grandparents, godparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. All of these are unique relationships that God has placed you in. And since God has placed you in those relationships, this also means that he has called you to love him and love others in those relationships that he has called you to.
What are some of the other unique callings within a family that you could describe?
Dating doesn’t end with “I do.”
In a marriage, there are many things that are competing for your attention. Bills, kids, projects, deadlines, school, laundry, dinner, groceries, birthday parties, or even the in-laws. While these things are necessary and important parts of a marriage, a marriage needs much more than paid bills and kids to thrive. The goal of our marriage isn’t just to stay married, it’s to have a marriage that is filled with joy.
And a joy-filled marriage comes in the pursuit of one another and in knowing that God is in pursuit of us.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (ESV) - Ephesians 5:23-27
Notice what happens here. Christ pursues the Church. Christ sacrifices. Christ gives of himself. Christ loves. And this verse from Ephesians calls men to the same thing - love your wives, sacrifice for your wives, pursue your wives.
Christ calls men to do for their wives what has been done for them. And it might even be suggested that by God’s pursuit of you, he has freed you to not focus on scoring spiritual points with God but instead focus on the hard work of fulfilling your calling as you love and pursue your spouse.
Dating is an opportunity for pursuit that shouldn’t disappear after the wedding vows. It will certainly look different, but it shouldn't end. Because even after the vows are spoken, the relationship doesn’t stop growing.
And when there are so many different areas of our life that are seeking our time and attention, the question becomes, “Which area of your life will become the priority?"
“Daily you make decisions to give up one thing in order to gain something else. This is especially true within the arena of your schedule. You face a variety of responsibilities and opportunities: work … family … hobbies … clubs … leagues … the list is endless. Each competes for your attention. Each competes for your most valuable resource, your time. But to give each of these the time it demands or deserves would require more time than you have.” - Andy Stanley
Maybe it’s time to start dating again.
As life happens in marriage, dating is easy to get bumped down the list. Our kids take priority. Our bills have to get paid. The jobs need to get done on time. And while it is easy to bump dating off the list, it is probably the last thing that should be moved down the list. Because even when we struggle to pay the bills, a healthy marriage gets us through those difficult days. And even if our career is miserable, a happy marriage makes it do-able. And while our kids are certainly a priority, the best gift we can ever give to our kids is a healthy marriage and a healthy home to grow up in.
Everyday you are going to have to make decisions about what to give up and what to pursue. Choose your family. Choose your spouse.
What would it look like if Dads were the pastors of their home? What would our families look like if Dads saw their vocation as father as crucial to the life of their kids and spouse? What if dads saw themselves as the primary shepherd in their home? It is often easy to see the job of pastoring and shepherding as the job of the professionals, but for the dad the pastoring in their home is primarily their responsibility.
In Luther’s small catechism, it actually begins with the words:
“As the head of the family should teach the household.”
Pastor dads are teachers.
When Jesus gives the command to go and make disciples, which includes our living rooms, he also gives instructions on how this is to happen. By baptizing and teaching. As dads pastor their children, the call is to be a teacher to them. As dads, we teach our kids how to follow Jesus. We teach our kids about the commands, about the scriptures, about Christ. And we teach our children how to live like Jesus.
We teach as we instruct through our words. And we teach as we model a Christian life.
We talk about forgiveness. And we show forgiveness. We teach about promises. And we show promises. We teach about sharing our faith. And we actually share our faith.
Pastor dads are shepherds.
A friend of mine describes the word pastor by pointing out how strange it is. “Sounds so archaic. Unsophisticated. Definitely not as impressive as ‘Chief Executive Officer.’” Pastors are shepherds. A shepherd cares for, protects, feeds, and watches over his flock. And while the dad of the home certainly might have to make sure business is in order, the budget is balanced, and the family is sticking to their mission - the dad is also a pastor. Shepherding his little flock.
"Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.” - 1 Peter 5:2
As dads, the first flock that we’ve been given is our own families. And pastoring our family means feeding them spiritually, caring for them spiritually, and shooting the wolves who come to attack.
Pastor dads are leaders.
As dads teach and shepherd, they also lead. Dads lead their homes. They set the pace, the direction, and the vision of the home. Some have even taken this as far as creating a family mission statement. Whatever it looks like, the pastor dad has to be a leader. Because as we make disciples in our family, we do so by being the lead follower. We lead as we follow. We give direction as we follow direction. We are imitators and call those who follow us to imitate us.
Note: I borrowed the title of this post from a Mark Driscoll eBook by the same title.
Mother’s Day is right around the corner. And moms everywhere likely look forward to having one day where people cater their wants and needs. While we should certainly make everyday an opportunity to honor moms, I thought it would be an especially appropriate time to consider the important work of motherhood and how the Gospel shapes a mother’s understanding of the work she does.
I took some time to interview an author and mother, Gloria Furman about this subject. Since I don’t have much experience with motherhood beyond watching my wife, I thought it would be helpful to interview a mom who is passionate about writing specifically to moms.
As a mother of four, who lives in a foreign country, and a wife to a busy pastor (who is also physically disabled), Gloria writes the following about the most difficult part of motherhood for her:
Getting the whole family in and out of the car comes to mind. So does restoring order to the chaos in the kitchen at the end of the day. Physically, motherhood is exhausting! But I don't think that's the most difficult thing. Loving my children sacrificially is the biggest challenge. Without hesitating, I would fight a bear with my bare hands in order to defend my babies. But share my peanut butter banana smoothie? Gently correct tantrums? Count my stretch marks as worth it? Patiently supervise homework? Use my gifts to serve them? Let my coffee go cold so I can... [you name it]? I have to give those things some serious thought. And every day I have to ask the Lord to strengthen me with his love as I lay my life down sacrificially in a thousand little ways.
Me: I’m not a mom, but I’m married to one. I witness the struggles of taking care of a family, being a wife, and finding time for yourselves… but even that fails to really understand what it’s like. Describe what makes being a mother difficult for you?
Gloria: May I just say that I so appreciate that you, as a non-mom, are seeking to understand what it is like to be a mom so that you might encourage mothers? Thank you! To answer this question concisely, I think I'm the one who makes motherhood difficult because of my sin. I've written to husbands about this desperate situation and Christ's sufficient provision in a blog post on the Desiring God:
Every husband should know that stay-at-home moms wage epic battles against chaos.
Epic battles against chaos can come in the form of sibling squabbles, maintenance emergencies, drama at school, competing budget items, scheduling hiccups, relational tension, and more. But these things are easily dealt with. - Read What Every Husband Should Know About Stay-at-home Moms
Me: Oftentimes mothering is filled with very ordinary tasks that don’t seem very spiritual. Tasks like changing diapers, doing laundry, preparing meals, or potty training hardly seems glorifying to God. How do you deal with that as a mother? How do you find the sacred amongst the normal, everyday tasks of mothering?
Gloria: What a great question! I deal with this throughout the breadth of the books, Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. It's funny how some perspective shows that nothing is truly small. I deal with that struggle by thinking through the implications of passages like Col. 3:23-24:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
And also Matt. 10:42.3:
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward."
Me: Sometimes moms feel the pressure to be the perfect wife, the perfect home-maker, the perfect employee, and the perfect mom. How does the Gospel free moms from these things?
Gloria: Ah, yes, the Mother of the Year pressure.
I have noticed here (in this global, Middle Eastern city), that even among moms who aren’t believers they can feel unreasonable pressure to have to be “the best mom you can be.” The gospel frees us in so many ways! In speaking to the very specific situation you mentioned, the gospel frees us to see our perfectionism in the light of God's truth. Because the gospel has at its center the cross of Jesus Christ - we recall that the perfect Son of God hung on the cross and died in our place in order to make atonement for our sin. The gospel sheds light on our maternal perfectionism issue and helps us to ask good questions of our perfectionism- for example, Are my perfectionism goals about God's holiness or my own sinful self-righteousness? What is driving me to want to meet this goal of perfectionism? What am I hoping to gain spiritually-speaking by striving to embody this kind of perfectionism?
On a related note, I think the gospel frees Christian moms to spend lots more time wringing our hands about the things that actually separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, which are, precisely, nothing. Praise the Lord!
[gss-content-box color="gray”]Make sure you check out Gloria’s book Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full. And if you'd like, Gloria offered this free sample chapter that describes how life after kids affected Gloria’s quiet time and practice of spiritual disciplines.[/gss-content-box]
Motherhood. Being a mom is perhaps one of the most difficult, thankless, overlooked, and exhausting callings that God has created. And it is also one of the most important callings that there is. When I walk in the door after a busy day of work, I am able to leave my work behind and my kids are excited to play and have fun with daddy. My wife on the other hand, when she has a difficult day at home as a mom, she’s still got to be a mom. And while daddy walks in the door for fun times, mommy just spent hours trying to get a meal ready, discipline a two-year-old, and straighten up the house. Have I mentioned that being a mom is difficult?
I’ve heard it said that as a parent the days often feel long and the years feel short. And moms often feel this very closely. A day drags on waiting for some relief from keeping the kids from killing each other. The day drags on waiting for the weather to change so the kids can finally go outside and play. But then the tension comes as your baby is going off to school and you wonder, where did the time go?
Those little things that you do. Playing legos. Cutting the sandwich into triangles. Checking on your kids for the tenth time. The extra bed-time story and cuddles. The counseling after a bad day at school. Running out to pick up flowers to prevent your kid from being embarrassed without them on their first date. And of course the little things that are not so glamorous. The changing the diapers. The time-outs. The loading the kids up in the car for a family trip to the grocery store.
These little things are sacred.
In the midst of the long and difficult days, these things don’t feel like they are sacred but they are. Because God is at work as you do the work of mothering.
God is loving your children, caring for them, protecting them, growing them, and watching over them as you do the work of being a mom. God is at work in the life of your child through the work you do as mom. That’s a sacred calling. And as a Christian we are free to do the work of mothering the best we can, not because God needs us to be good mothers in order to earn anything. But simply because our kids need the best mothers.
"What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels…God with all his angels and creatures is smiling - not because the father (or mother) is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.” - Martin Luther - [LW 45:39-40]
And let’s be clear. You can be a faithful, Christian mother even when you are struggling to give yourself to the spiritual things. Don’t get me wrong, these things are good things - giving ourselves to reading, memorizing, and studying God’s Word is always valuable. But in the midst of the long, difficult days that are filled with endless battles, the struggle can make the Christian mother feel unspiritual as she doesn’t do the “spiritual” things that she longs to do.
One author wrote the following:
“A woman told me about getting involved in a Bible study that demanded strict commitment to the study of God’s Word. ‘You should make the Bible your number one priority,’ she was told. That meant getting up early and the very first thing in the morning doing Bible reading and having a quiet time with the Lord. She did this, but to her consternation every morning as she would start to read her Bible, the baby would wake up. She found herself resenting the interruption. Here she was, trying to spend time with God, and the baby would start fussing, demanding to be fed and distracting her attention away from spiritual things. After a while, though, she came to understand the doctrine of vocation. Taking care of her baby was what God, at that moment, was calling her to do. Being a mother and loving and serving her child was her vocation, her divine calling from the Lord. She could read the Bible later. She did not have to feel guilty that she was neglecting spiritual things; taking care of her baby is a spiritual thing!” - Gene Veith, God at Work
All of work is sacred. And for mothers that means all those little things - the things you love and the things you dread - are sacred. Motherhood is a holy calling. Parents are the primary influences and disciple-makers for their children and mothers get the opportunity to do this day in and day out as they love, care for, and spend time with their kids.
Have you seen this video yet? It currently has over 16 million views on youtube and that number will probably be even higher by the time you read this. It’s odd, strange, and intriguing to say the least. Tatia Pilieva, a filmmaker, captures 20 complete strangers - gay, straight, old, and young - sharing a first kiss.
As this has gone viral, it’s been seen as inspiring, beautiful, and compelling. Time said, "What could have been intensely uncomfortable throughout was strangely romantic.” Perhaps the beautiful people wearing trendy clothes made this compelling. Or maybe it was the quality of the filming. Or maybe it’s the soundtrack for this short film. Please note, the video shows this variety of couples making out and it may be offensive.
I won’t argue that it isn't interesting to watch the awkward moments of this first kiss. But I would hardly call it beautiful or compelling. I think there’s better that we can be inspired by. Some of these come from experience, others come from observation. So to name a few...
16 Kisses that are better than 20 Strangers Kissing:
1. The first kiss with your eventual spouse. I hardly remember the first time I kissed my wife. I remember the first attempt, which was also a failed attempt. But there’s something special about the kiss that is the first among many.
2. The kiss that accompanies, “I do.”The promise that commits to a lifetime together. It’s not a contract that says, “If you keep me satisfied, I’ll stay with you"… it’s a promise that says, “We are in it for the long haul. No matter how much crap we face.”
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” - Matthew 19:5-6
3. The kiss that happens even though life is falling apart around you. Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything.” Our marriages will have seasons of great joy and laughter. And they will also have pain, struggle, and heart-ache. The kiss that says, “I still love you,” in the midst of those difficult days is a beautiful kind of love. It’s a love that isn’t just about attraction, but a love that is abound friendship and commitment.
4. The kiss that says, “I’m sorry.” Marriages don’t work without repentance. Unless we learn to use these two words and go to our spouses with a kiss and an apology, we are not going to make it very far.
5. The kiss that says, “I forgive you.” Just as marriages won’t work without repentance, they also won’t work without forgiveness.
"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." - Colossians 3:13
6. Kissing your kids for the first time. I’ll never forget the moment I first held and kissed my kids for the first time. The love that a parent has for a children is unbelievable. And that first kiss with my son and my daughter are both something I will never forget.
7. Watching your kids kiss each other. I recently got to watch my son become a big brother. There is nothing more heart-warming than to see my son reach out his arms, say, “I want it,” and then give his baby sister a kiss as he holds her.
8. The kisses that led to kids…and the ones that didn’t lead to kids too. Do I really need any explanation?
9. This kiss that makes you feel uncomfortable - your mom and dad kissing in front of you. I definitely plan on doing this when my kids are older. And while it is uncomfortable for the kids who have to witness it, it is also something that we all hope is in our future.
10. The kiss that sends your daughter down the aisle. I haven’t experienced this and don’t want to think about the day I will. But I have witnessed several dads do this and know the love that my wife and her dad share. There is something special about a daddy and his baby girl and no one else can share that special moment when daddy kisses his baby girl before she becomes a wife.
11. The kiss that embarrass your kid on their first day of school. When your kids hit a certain age, there’s a day when your kisses will embarrass them. Kiss them anyways. It might be embarrassing, but they’ll get over it when they realize they have parents who actually love them and care about them.
12. The kiss on the scrapes, bruises, and bumps. Right now, I’m pretty sure that any injury my son has can be fixed by his mama’s kisses.
13. The kisses that comes after kids. Kids don’t mean the end of intimacy. And if the marriage is done right, it just keeps getting better.
14. The good night kiss that happens every single night. Every night next to the same person. Night after night. Week after week. Friends, lovers, spouses getting to do life together. That’s something to strive for.
15. The kiss after praying for your spouse. Prayer is an intimate thing. Prayer for your spouse and pray with your spouse.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Phil 4:6-7
16. The 50th anniversary kiss. What more beautiful, what more compelling, and what more inspiring that seeing the couples who grow old together? What better picture of the faithfulness of God than a marriage that has remained faithful for 50 years? Faithful through good times and bad. Faithful through the fights and the celebrations. Faithful through the deaths and the births.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” - Ephesians 5:25
Strangers kissing might certainly be intriguing, but I think we can do better. Something more beautiful. Something more compelling. Something more exciting.
Do you have any that you’d add to the list? Add them in the comments.