Sunday, March 23, 2014

VINDICATED




Upon hearing the news that ‘Gothard-- The Most Highly Revered and Spiritually Enlightened’ of all parenting gurus since Dr. Spock-- has allegedly... most probably.... fallen for being left to his own devices, a word immediately came to my mind.  

Vindicated. 

I feel refreshingly vindicated.

New Oxford American Dictionary defines:

vindicate |ˈvindəˌkāt|
verb [ with obj. ]
clear (someone) of blame or suspicion: hospital staff were vindicated by the inquest verdict.


• show or prove to be right, reasonable, or justified: more sober views were vindicated by events.

I feel vindicated of all the guilt and shame that plagued me for not jumping on the ‘Gothardite’ bandwagon.

Why the guilt and shame?

Every time a prim, proper, near perfect family polished in Gothard principles was paraded before me in churches and home school events, I feared we made the wrong choice.

They looked so incredibly.....RIGHT, and good, and sincere, and  Godly and pure, and sweet, and enthusiastic, and innocent, and HAPPY, and loving, and devoted, and most importantly...the most prized quality of all..... OBEDIENT. 

I couldn’t help but question how we could NOT want to plunge in on all fours.

These qualities were compelling evidences that the ‘Gothard
Formula' worked.  The parents who could effectively implement it were highly praised and credited for accomplishing the Christian’s greatest feat--raising up the Godly Seed.

So, why didn’t we take that plunge?

It’s actually rather contradictory--the reason I mean. Because, while we only knew a few of Gothard’s teachings, what we DID know, we saw as unscriptural.  

For instance, we were told that Gothard taught: children were to obey their parents even once they were adults and to the extent that they would not marry anyone unless their parents would give their approval and blessing.

Additionally, even if the parents were not believers, the adult children should not choose to do anything of which their parents would not give approval.  

Instead, the Gothard child was taught that if he/she truly believed those desires were God-sanctioned, He would intervene through their fervent prayers and change the parent’s hearts. 

We did not believe that parents had God’s approval to trump the Holy Spirit in their child’s life.

But funny thing is, and herein lies the contradiction:  Though the Baptist Taliban church denounced Gothard, and criticized those who followed his teachings and attended his seminars, they were all-the-while inadvertently believing and practicing the exact same things!  

They just wouldn’t give credence to Gothard.

And now. as far as I’m concerned, even if one could cite some excellent principles from the Institute of Gothard, they hold little credibility with me. 

So I am vindicating myself of my own guilt for not churning out grown-up Gothard-formula reproductions. 

If Gothard’s sure-fire, fool-proof, flesh-constraining, protective fire-wall practices were not enough to keep the Guru’s own mind, heart and hands where they belonged, 

How could his teachings really have benefited my family any more than what we were already doing?




Sunday, February 16, 2014

ONLY CARNAL CHRISTIANS CANCEL CHURCH?




Paul and I wake up early enough most Sunday mornings, to make a routine Starbucks run for an hour or so before church--our way to ease into the events of the day. 

Once scoring our favorite drinks, we nestle into our pre-selected, cushiony chairs, sign in to our Macs, read a bit, then share articles and statuses of interest with each other.  Such is our early Sunday routine. 

On this day, we paid little attention to forecasts of potential snow and drizzle.  It was perfectly dry where we were and reports indicated only areas south of us would get significant accumulations.  Besides, if our roads were affected, the big trucks were ready and waiting to keep them safely drivable.

Or so we were told....

Gradually, as we watched curiously through Starbuck’s floor to ceiling windows, light snow began falling. Then heavier, heavier and heavier until within a few short minutes, it was coming down so hard and fast the ground was completely covered. It was obvious by then, driving would prove a serious challenge.  We noticed the cars just outside our windows, fish-tailing on spinning wheels, struggling to get traction.

When we left our house, only minutes earlier, it never entered our minds that weather might be inclement enough to cancel services.  Suddenly, we knew we needed to make a decision. It wasn’t a difficult call. 



Our church family is few in number.  

Some drive 30 to 40 minutes to get to the place where we meet.  Some are elderly.  Some have crippling physical challenges.  All (except retired, who have other difficulties) have demanding jobs working long, hard hours all during the week.  All would feel they would somehow be slighting God if they didn’t strive to get there... UNLESS.... we cancel.  

Why?

I know why.  It’s because that is how they’ve been conditioned by their high-demand religious backgrounds.  I question anyone who declares,  ‘ It’s God convicting them’.....how they could know....

Six days a week, those who have jobs must abide by strict requirements and time schedules just to earn a meager living.  They are expected to be there by a certain time and quit only at the scheduled time.  They are expected to provide doctor’s notes to verify sickness for missing work, are regulated as to how long breaks and lunch times last, are disciplined or fired based on performance requirements and some are even expected to take extra work home without compensation.  

There are also unending household responsibilities, school activities, extended family considerations, community needs and many other necessary demands on time not to mention pressures and expectations from the high demand churches so many (without recognizing them as such) are committed to.  It is especially difficult for younger families with children to find enough of the necessary down-time to spend with their children so they can actually know them!   


So.  We, in the interest of our most dedicated, loving, hard-working church family believe it no insult to God if we give them a break from the meeting on such days.  

And I’ll venture a few steps further.  Digressing a bit, I know.

I don’t believe God would consider it an insult if we relaxed  expectations for high-quality, stress-provoking performances in church services complete with activities-to-meet- every-need--at least somewhat--to allot more of that time actually ministering to real needs of our families and communities.

Say,  WHAT???? 

I even wonder why churches have to be so time-conscious anyway? 

Why, on the day established as ‘The Lord’s Day’-- a day of worship and rest from our labors--it is so important services start and end precisely ‘on time’?  Why can’t there be a time set for people to arrive and then begin when everyone gets there and is ready?  

Instead of being so concerned with starting ‘on time‘ and ending ‘on time’, why couldn’t we use that set time simply as a  guide, letting the ‘Spirit‘ lead from then on?  Why would the Church want to order itself in so much the same way as the secular business world?  Shouldn’t Sunday, especially Sunday truly, in all essence, be a day to rest from all that? 

Why so much emphasis on all that pertains to the church meeting? 

For so many years I have heard it preached with exceeding fervor, that there was no good work pleasing to God outside church.  But is the ‘Church‘ supposed to be all about its meetings and activities?  Aren’t members of any local church still members of their respective churches when they are demonstrating ‘Christ’ apart from the meetings?  Are we so inadequate and incapable in our ability to read and understand the Bible for ourselves that to be properly fed, we MUST rely on sermons preached from a raised pulpit in a building congregated by a crowd? 

While I can’t claim it to be wrong for church meetings to be conducted with the order in which most are, I do strongly believe it to be wrong for church-going people to be using public networking mediums to scold, rebuke, express concern for, numbers of people they suspect are making excuses (such as weather) to skip out on church, as to their devotion to God. 

Church ‘truants’ are challenged by the ‘faithful’ to rightly examine their motives for missing.  Surely they are selfishly neglecting their reasonable service to the Lord.  Why else would any who are physically capable, miss, when the ones speaking out are so devotedly honoring their obligation to the Lord, except it be for devious purposes?  Why else would the faithful attenders feel justified for publicly (albeit anonymously) admonishing the truants except they believed their works qualified them to exercise such ‘authority’.

I apologize for the pointed sarcasm.  It just seems to find it’s way out through the writing.  But it also expresses how much of a stumblingblock I believe such an action is.

Those of us who are professing believers need to separate ourselves from the finger-pointing acts that spell hypocrisy to those who have seen more of that and little else of the goodness of Christ which, if there is any repenting to be done, is what brings it.  Not some verbal scolding by another sinning human being who might happen to be better at doing ‘church‘ but most likely has plenty of skeletons hiding in other regions of their lives.

Paul and I were thankful for the extra time we had to spend at Starbucks that day.  I thought of it as a gift--a special time--that we utilized by driving my snow-bound, carless daughter to work. She really needed the money and her employer really needed her.

We then drove home, made chili dogs and enjoyed some extra, quality time with the rest of our kids still living at home.  We even watched the Super Bowl from start to finish for the first time in years and years.  

And I would not allow myself the slightest bit of peer-induced guilt for not scrambling about, looking for tools to clear the walkways, fretting over the safety of members driving on slick roads from 40 minutes away then fretting over their driving back home again in even worse driving conditions, fearing that our physically challenged members would slip and fall on the ice and snow outside their own homes as they tried to make way to their cars,  just so that we could feel a bit of pride that we had endured the hardness and exercised our spiritual muscle by having services...anyway. 

What’s even more important, I felt not one iota of fear that God was not pleased.....

Are we carnal Christians?  Depends on who’s judging.




Saturday, January 25, 2014

WHEN REALITY COLLIDES WITH EARNEST EXPECTATIONS







I’ve never been much good at New Year’s Resolutions. 



I tend to over-think everything including all the areas in which I need to improve... so much... that instead of getting motivated and energized by the practice, I end up defeated and discouraged.  I just can not seem to make it work for me.  

I know what the problem is.  My resolutions are entirely unrealistic and being that  ‘resolutions‘ are supposed to be made for the long haul, it is necessary to evaluate them for their importance and edit out the trivial if one has any hope of keeping them.  

No matter how thoroughly I understand this, I can never quite fix it.  My resolutions grow so big and more and more detailed that by the end of it, I have become some stranger--an inexhaustible, perfectionist person who is way far different from who I am!    Attempts to prioritize are futile because how does one prioritize when EVERYTHING seems to be a priority?   

So, I gave up on resolutions a long time ago. I figured 50+ years of trying and failing was long enough... 

Now?  Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I look for New Year’s Revelations.

This post is about my most recent and profound ‘Revelation’.


I had similar results with the more practical daily ‘To Do’ lists.  I tried so many times.  I so wanted to experience that sense of completion as I scratched off each task.  I so admired the ‘successful’ women who could accomplish so many things in a day by faithfully utilizing their ‘To Do’ lists. 




But for me, every effort--started and restarted--ended in failure.  I would get five or ten tasks completed and scratched off, when one of several things might happen:  

  • distractions in the form of needy little human beings made items on the list trifling;

  • I’d find myself making up things that didn’t need to be ‘listed’ just to have something to ‘scratch off;

  • my list kept disappearing.  Lost, thrown away or baptized in some spilled liquid substance.

The ‘To Do’ LIst’ strategy for organization was abandoned  with the same resignation as the ‘Resolution List’.  

Oh well...

There are other strategies to which one can resort for self-improvement purposes.  I just need to find one better suited for my eccentric, scatter-brained ways,  which I have finally realized is consistent with the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis.  More about that on another post.... 

Though I am still looking for that customized-to-my-limitations strategy....

Now, after many years of thinking that next in importance to being a mother who passionately loves her family, is one that efficiently accomplishes all that a ‘good’ mother is supposed to accomplish, I have learned a most profound truth--a new Revelation, if you will.  At least... it is for me anyway.

And that truth would be: My greatest source of unhappiness, anxiety, regret, insecurity and inferiority?   

UNREALIZED EXPECTATIONS!

Why were they unrealized?  Because they were fantastically UNREALISTIC!

Which brings me now to another revelation:  The sources of those ‘fantastically unrealistic’ expectations. Where DO those expectations come from anyway?  Of course, there are many answers too broad and varied to deal with now.  However, for an excellent summary, here is a good place to read and ponder:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-blame-game/201209/what-do-i-expect

Probably most would say that the most significant voices to influence their expectations would be: parents, church, teachers, friends and media.  I must state personally that as well as these being positive voices formulating my expectations--producing positive outcomes-- they have also contributed to expectations that produced profoundly negative ones.

Because, it is from these voices that I also derived my UNREALISTIC expectations!  The number one most guilty contributor to my UNREALISTIC expectations has been the  Baptist Taliban ‘church’ and its highly idealistic religious beliefs, and YES, Baptist Taliban, your expectations ARE religious though you will state you are all against ‘religion’ and practice only a militant faith. (Is there a difference?)

Young, seeking parents tend to be idealistic anyway, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone when many are drawn to churches with high ideals and expectations. Any institution advertising ‘high expectations, (for example: schools, colleges, athletic organizations and any program employed to educate and train children) is equated to what is ‘The Best’ for the needs of those children. In short:  high expectation = best outcome.
Happily expecting Baby Eden in February!


It is so easy to get caught up in this line of thinking.  It just seems like good, old-fashioned common sense.  It’s conventional wisdom that’s hardly ever questioned.  But high expectations as they are applied to areas of performance are profitable, even necessary as long is they don’t go beyond what is reasonable and what is considerate of the child or young person’s limitations, individual bent and desire.

What happens, though, when this ideology is applied by churches in the realm of a person’s spirituality?  

When church leaders extrapolate their own interpreted ‘formula’s’  for rearing children from scripture, teaching and preaching them to their committed parent/followers as absolute truths yielding the much coveted ‘spiritual’ outcomes in their children, these committed young parents embrace and practice those teachings often without question.  Thus resulting in expectations of ‘spiritually’ developed, mature and devoted children and MUCH is expected of them to be sure!



Consider this:

“Evangelicals sometimes expect too much or, to put it more precisely, we look for a kind of change God hasn't promised. It's possible to expect too little, but under-expectation is usually a cynical reaction to dashed hopes for too much. We manage to interpret biblical teaching to support our longing for perfection. As a result, we measure our progress by standards we will never meet until heaven.” 



Paradoxically, ironically, these ‘formulas’ are practiced using much similar tactics for producing the spiritual behaviors desired that the often denounced ‘worldly,’ secular institutions employ to instill the behaviors and disciplines they deem important.  
These motivational tactics or tools are often just cleverly disguised, creative methods of punishment!  

When I was a young mother, I wanted all the best things for and from my children.  I followed those voices that seemed to offer the best formula to achieve my highest ideals for them.

I was naive.

I was trusting of my spiritual leaders.

I was trusting of almost any information from ‘Christian’ sources.

I was ignorant and suspicious of alternative sources of information.

I was submissive to my spiritual authorities.

I was willing to sacrifice any personal desires to rear ‘spiritual’ children.

I tried as best I could to follow the ‘formula’.

I truly expected that this formula would not fail.

Then, when reality collided with my earnest expectations,  it was a very messy crash.

But the reality that escaped me was that no parent, no matter how perfectly they follow the formula, can shape a child into a spiritual adult using a formula, no matter how exactly Biblical it may be.  It is beyond our power as humans to cause a child to develop into a spiritual adult by any actions we impose on them for that purpose.

What we can do is live out consistently the Christ-like attributes we hope to see grow in their own hearts.  

Oh, we can control their behavior for a time when it is necessary to do so. We can gently but firmly employ positive, effective disciplinary actions when they behave in ways that are dishonest, hurtful, irresponsible, negligent, disrespectful, dangerous, etc.   We can teach them what is good and what is right in word and in deed. We can guide them in their decisions and inform them of consequences of bad choices as well as of good choices.  We can be there for them in the good times as well as the bad, showing grace when they fail, nurturing and loving them back to wholeness.  We can provide practical instruction to help them in their transition to a healthy adulthood using outside-the-family -and-church resources as is usually needed. 

When we’ve sincerely though imperfectly tried all we could, whatever the outcome, we can accept them for who they are and where they are, whatever that may mean.  This is often very uncomfortable, but vital if we are to be consistent with the example of Christ even in our own lives.

Finally, we can transform unrealistic expectations to hope that always accepts the reality but never loses sight of the potential. 

THAT, I think I can do.... 


“We all remember epochs in our experience when some dear expectation dies, or some new motive is born.” 


Have a happy New Year filled with hope and realistic expectations!
Paul and Cindy












  








Monday, September 9, 2013

SINCERE TYRANNY?







“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. 

The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. 

They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” ~ C. S. Lewis


I sit on a man's back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back." ~ Leo Tolstoy


Sometimes, I wonder if I am wearing a sign only visible to a select few that says, “I need help but I don’t know it”.  Certainly, I am not the only one who feels this.

Truth is, we all need help at times when we are the last to recognize it and I am no exception.  It is at those times that our best defense mechanism kicks in--denial.  

Thus, it is when we really, truly need the help, we strangely, passionately deny it. However, the one so concerned must be sure that it really is just denial before forcefully intervening.

I am not usually quick to seek help, even when I really need it.  This is not a good thing and I know it. But, there have been certain people in my life who were determined to ‘help’ me when I wasn’t the one who needed it....they were.

Furthermore, the kind of ‘help’ they were pushing, was actually not helpful at all, but just the opposite.  

This is the danger of being so confident in one’s perceptions of another’s life when refusing to believe that only the other person knows best what his or her own needs are. 

The safest policy then, when one says they don’t need or want the help, is to believe them and back off!

So, what kind of person does this?  What kind of person insists on ‘helping’ the person that doesn’t want it?  And what is the ‘help’ they think is needed?

It is the “omnipotent moral busybodies” C. S. Lewis identifies and their misguided, misplaced and maligned ‘sincerity’ who are the culprits. 

And what is the ‘help’ they offer?  To impose their own relative values on the other.  Why?  Because ‘misery loves company?’  Because they feel their own lives are out of control so they need to control someone else’s?  Because they are projecting their own  moral deficiencies on another as a cry for the help they need?  Because they really believe themselves to be intellectually and morally superior enough to impose on others?

Whatever the reason/s, known or unknown, what is known is they are sure they have the right to do so because they are sure they are ‘so right’.  

But C. S. Lewis got it so right because what the ‘needy other’ is actually receiving of their impositions is “hell on earth" and "intolerable insults."  They are treated as 'infantile', 'imbecile' and 'domesticated animals' who have not nor ever will reach an age of reason enough to actually discern for themselves.

How utterly demeaning!

Surely, some of these ‘moral busybodies’ really are sincere in their actions, however bothersome to the others.  They may only need a little enlightenment to displace their ignorance.

But for those whose underlying need is to display their superiority?  Their’s is a more troubling problem.  

Still motivated by conscience, it is a seared one functioning as a mask to hide the real issue....feelings of extreme inferiority and insecurity.  

But left to continue uncontested?  Their ‘sincere tyranny’ exercised for the good of the other will become....

 just plain, evil, tormenting arrogance.








Wednesday, August 21, 2013

LIVING HAPPILY IN 'PLAN B'






God had this perfect plan.

Let’s call it His ‘Plan A’.

It included creating a perfect world, perfect living creatures, perfect food, perfect environment and a perfect man with whom to commune.  Included in His plan was to create a perfect woman for His perfect man, and enjoy the goodness of all He made.  It was perfect in every way.

Of course, if we believe God knew ahead of the fact it would all come crashing down with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in their perfect garden, we have to accept that even in the face of all He knew would happen, He did not abandon man or the plan altogether.   

Or maybe He even knew ahead of time His original plan would fail.  After all, He did design man with a free will. Paradoxical as it is, He still chose to allow His creation to continue--albeit greatly altered.

Bewildering.

But is it really? 

Would I, as a mere human, want to change the course of my life if I could see ahead? If I could see ahead horrible events in my future, would I chose not to exist at all? 

If I could know beforehand that I would lose a child to some debilitating, painful disease, would I choose not to birth that child into the world considering the good that often comes through such agonizing hardship?  Maybe not.  But then I don’t really know and I doubt anyone else does either--even if they think or say they do.

If I could know ahead of the fact that the man I chose to marry would be called into war and die an untimely death, would I still have chosen to marry him? 

Would I, if I could foresee my future spelled ongoing tragedy, loss, sorrow and constant struggle, choose not to born?  Though I can not say for absolute certain having not experienced such, I think I would still choose to be.

Part of me cannot even fathom God knowing all that would be... and yet... letting it be.  

But there’s another part of me that can.  

On an almost infinitely smaller scale, I can imagine that if the attributes God created in man--in me: a longing to love and be loved, compassion, empathy, need for companionship, desire to please, appreciation for beauty, that non-substitutable familial bond, etc. etc. were the characteristics in Himself he yearned to reproduce in living beings he called His “children”, I can see how he’d want offspring. Isn’t that why most of us want children? To reproduce and enjoy the good, naturally-occurring genetic modifications we desire in ourselves?  

Would I have chosen not to include my 19 year old cousin, Jim, in my life If I could see ahead that he would be violently, tragically killed in a car accident, leaving behind a 17 year-old adoring, devastated bride of only 2 weeks to-the-hour he was killed?  I would have to say, no.  It was worth having him in my life, even with the agony of losing him... even if only for those short 19 years. Knowing him was a bright memory in my life, and losing him made me a more sensitive person. 



Jim and Stella, exactly 2 weeks before he was killed
It’s a feeble comparison, but it’s enough for me to get a tiny grasp on what might have been in the mind of God when he continued with his plan to create man--even knowing all he knew.

It’s a legitimate, probing question and one often pondered. 

So God’s Perfect Plan A didn’t quite work out for Him as He... well...He planned.  But instead of trashing the whole idea altogether, He saw fit--maybe it even pleased him...
to settle for the ‘Plan B‘ He obviously crafted as the substitute.  Perhaps that was one (of the many) prices He paid for allowing man a free will. 

Perhaps.  But, I don’t have to know for sure.  Simply contemplating the possibility is strangely comforting in the aftermath of my own failures.

When my husband and I first married, I can’t say that we had a ‘PLAN’ per se-- other than the obvious-- to get married, get a place to live and eventually have kids.  That was enough...at first.

But later on, as we matured and began having children-- in rapid succession-- our whole perspective on life changed, then heightened with our move to Oklahoma. 


The Fam before.....
Along with the change to a new state and home came many, many other changes.  Our way of ‘doing church‘ changed.  Our community of family changed.  Our values changed. Our core beliefs changed. Our standards changed. Our goals changed. And most significantly?

Our influences changed.

It was through those influences that we began formulating a ‘plan’ for rearing ‘ideal’ children and becoming an ‘ideal’ family. 

We literally were surrounded by families who claimed and appeared to have discovered the secret to bringing up the ‘Godly seed’. What dedicated, novice, Christian parent wouldn’t want that? 

These people utilized very specific, no-fault formulas for accomplishing that end and as far as we could tell, the ‘proof of the pudding was in the making’.  Their ‘formulas’ were working and we were the all-wondering eyes and ears recruits

So we began incorporating those formulas--little by little-- into our child-rearing practices with high and lofty expectations.

And the process for our own ‘Plan A’ venture was born.

‘Plan A’ became the sum total of our utmost hopes and dreams for our children as pertaining more to their ‘Godliness’ than anything else. We assumed that ‘Godliness’ was the main ingredient to guarantee success in all their practical endeavors as well.

Our ‘Plan A’  hopes and dreams consisted of:

*smooth sailing through the teen years with no rebellion

*courting, chaperoned relationships where we the parents were involved in all aspects 

*courting-aged teens who desired only to find spouse with same beliefs as the church

*courting-aged teens willing to bypass all prospects to seek the ‘one and only’

*all waiting until marriage to touch or kiss

*all virgins when married

*all married in their church with immaculately white dresses and celebratory service

*all desiring several children (not necessarily quiver full. At least we didn’t go quite that far)

*all serving in ministry in Independent, fundamental, pre-millennial, KJV only, God-fearing, sin-hating, standard-bearing and enforcing Baptist churches that were unaffiliated, unincorporated and only performed marriages by covenant (no state marriage licenses)

*all dedicated to home schooling their children

*all abiding continually in the church’s and parent’s standards, including no pants on women,     
no shorts on men, no TV, no theatre movies, no drinking, no smoking, no dancing etc,
etc, etc.

As I write this non-exhaustive list, it is hard to believe that once upon a time, we actually expected those very narrow, restrictive ideals of all our children! 

We really thought we were on the ‘right path’ to accomplishing them.  It even looked like we were going to make it, as our oldest were in their latter teens and early twenties and still hanging in there.  

At least, so it seemed to us.

But then, that subtle, perpetual descent into legalistic beliefs produced a whirlwind that blew away most all our ‘Plan A’ hopes and dreams in one fell swoop.

Next thing we knew we were thrust into an ever evolving ‘Plan B’.

Life is so much more enjoyable when we can ‘let go‘ of all the Plan A’s we dream of attaining-- devising elaborate, restrictive, obsession-driven formulas to achieve them.  It was only then, by letting go, we could find peace and happiness in the “Plan B’’ acceptance of ‘those things we could not change’.  

There simply are things in life we can not change.  

Our most expertly designed or extrapolated formulas on paper may, at most times not work at all when they involve real people with individual minds, hearts and wills.    

Grace, mercy and self-examination will likely succeed where the best laid plans and formulas of man...fail miserably. 

So, It came to me recently, that there are many accounts in the Bible where God, in his continual efforts to restore his beloved to Him, punish their disobedience or refrain from destroying them altogether, altered his original plan.

The first that I noted before, may not actually be the first.

Before the Creation, before Man, there were beings in the heavens.  I am certain I haven’t misinterpreted the account of Lucifer’s fatal pride and resulting fall from Grace.  Surely, God did not incorporate that event into his ‘Plan A’!

Then, from Lucifer’s Fall from Grace, Adam’s Fall from sinlessness to every. single. act of man thereafter, God was overseeing a ‘Plan B’ actuality.  

In actuality, ‘Plan B’ was not really a plan at all, but God’s willingness to let his beloved ‘man’ operate according to his own self-serving will with resulting natural consequences.   

At times, when wickedness was so unspeakable and prevalent, God intervened with rash judgments, but never before sounding long and loud warnings.  These acts, too, would not be part of His Perfect Plan, but the secondary plans He administered  for judging evil and beginning something new and good. 

If God, being.... well.....GOD, with power to have anything and everything be the way HE wanted, would govern His Will according to His love, mercy and grace and adjust His Plan so as to continue His pursuit for the love and devotion of His beloved man, how can we mere, mortal, feeble, near-sighted, self-serving, created human-being parents impose LESS grace and mercy on our own faltering children than God Himself did for our many errors?

It has been my fiercest, most persistent internal conflict since confronting the ingrained, entrenched beliefs of our Bible-based cult training:  Which of my children’s beliefs and behaviors I can only tolerate, which I can accept as non-issues, which actually were OUR misguided preferences, which upon reinvestigation required change on our part, and how to handle those behaviors that were unquestionably wrong.

It became necessary to pore through a countless array of beliefs, philosophies and teachings to rest on the ones that were consistent with our specific beliefs and fit our specific needs.  

It was a very day-by-day, situation-by-situation, child-by-child expedition before we were able to un-train and re-train our way of thinking and feeling.  All this while still trying to parent five children ages 9-16, and restore damaged credibility and relationships with the three older 17-21 year olds to some semblance of health. 


When all is said and done, we had come to the conclusion that we had to make a decision between two ultimate views:  If we wanted to reclaim them to our original dreams, we would have to incorporate the excessive, demanding, manipulative and ultimatum-backed control promoted by the belief system we had just left.  

We could see from lives of families still in the Baptist Taliban as well as those from similar believing churches with which we were currently connected that those methods did appear to work, for some. 

 The other view and the only one with which we could conscientiously choose, was to while continuing to live out our beliefs ourselves, exercise patience, respect, mercy and grace for the personal beliefs and non-destructive behaviors  our children had adopted... as they were, while leaving those areas that were not ours to change or control... to God.

So, this was our ‘Plan B’

.  As best as I can tell from my understanding of scripture, this is as close to the way God dealt with His children from the beginning, (with the exception of those occasions He saw fit to execute His annihilating judgement on ones so wicked they had exhausted their days of grace) as we could get.  

I’d rather use His model, though it may not yield the results the controlling, authoritarian parent can claim to his record.  At least we will be able to claim it was by their choice and the decisions they make and claim for their own.


And I am happier, even in the difficulties.  Except for 'Plan B', these would not have been my grandchildren!  That, I do not even want to think about.... 

For those who lust after control for the sake of what they may truly believe is the ‘right’ cause, will in the end, according to scripture, receive the ‘greater condemnation.’ James 3:1.