Friday, September 9, 2016

Sharing or Fearing?

Art by Simonne-Anais Clarke
 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. … And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground...’  
Matt 25:14-25 (NIV)

Early in my parenting journey, I learned to mine my daily experiences for the gifts they brought, even when the packaging was crumpled and dirty... very, very dirty.  I would notice myself being gentle or patient and experience gratitude that God had gifted me with kids that are tools for my transformation! Yes, I have those thoughts on the good days.  On one of those days, feeling blessed with the children shaped gifts, I thought about the parable of the talents.

So three servants were given talents (think large sums of money) based on the master's understanding of their ability.  Two servants invested the talents, one didn't.  The guy who hid the talent did so because he was afraid. I suddenly wondered, what if the children are like talents from God? I started to look at the scripture through this lens. 
  • First, the master "entrusted to them his property." (Matt. 25:14) My children belong to God. Parenting is a stewardship relationship.
  • All the servants knew the master wanted his property invested. What am I doing to invest my children? Could the parable of the Sower help? Is investing similar to sharing (sowing) what God has given?
  • The third servant made his decisions because of fear. I have a well worn, 'parenting through fear' t-shirt. Fear and share may rhyme, but they have little else in common!
  • Hiding the talent did not bring a return on investment.
  • His master was not happy! Oh dear...
I have very good reasons for not sharing my son with autism much.  People may misunderstand. It's too much work. The last time he shared the wrong things with unsuspecting people! It's too much work. Not sharing is just easier.

Yet, strangely, I felt God's conviction about my selfishness. The gift of my son and the magic we have between us (sometimes) is a private blessing. The gift of the challenge and the resulting growth was just for a hidden portion of yummy food only then out when there's no-one to share it with. The measuring stick of God's word is showing me up!

I don't yet know what all this means practically, but I recognize a challenge from God to allow others to experience our real life, and the myriad of gifts that come our way (in very dirty paper).  I've tried this 'sharing J with the world' twice and I'll tell you all the excitement next time. For now, recognizing God's hand on a situation means to not panic, but to trust that He is giving everyone whatever they need. It means being willing to relinquish my son into God's hands so He can use him.

Dear Loving Heavenly Father. Thanks for your gifts you shared with us in the shape of our children.  Help us to be willing to live our lives where others can see it. Please help us see that the challenging moments are just as important as the pretty, peaceful ones. Please build our willingness and our courage as we listen to your encouragement to share.

art by Zachary-Michael

P.S. My other two children are artists and we have been having conversations about 'sharable art'.  The height of pleasure that they get from creating art does not require the art to be shared. They have all they need without sharing.  Or so they think... I remind them that its not about them and I remember that this is the same as my not sharing J.  It's not really about me. It's about the people we will get to share with! So, I've been encouraging sharable art.  Here are two pieces for your enjoyment.

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