Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes...

Do you know this old Sunday school song?

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.
For the Father up above is looking down in love.
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.

I was singing this to Hobbes as I was rocking him to sleep for his nap today. (There wasn't any football on TV yet.) As I sang to him, I realized what a great song this is for kids, it may just be one of my favorites. So often, children hear from us, "Don't do that or you'll get in big trouble" or "Mommy will be angry" or some other version of that. We hold out the threat of punishment or rejection in order to discipline instead of the promise of love. (I suppose I shouldn't speak for everyone here, but that is often my default in parenting.)

My pastor's wife spoke on the topic of love at a women's meeting this summer. One of the qualities of love that she pointed out was hope. I don't remember exactly what she said, but what I came away with was the idea of parenting our children by laying hope before them. Instead of saying not to do something because they will get in trouble, I can say that I know that God is making them into someone amazing and that they have the chance to begin growing into that person now. For example, when Calvin goes to hit his brother over a toy, I can stop him and say, "You are such a good big brother who loves Hobbes. Can you think of a better thing to do." On the few occasions where I try this, it actually works.

I think that God does that a lot in His interactions with His people. There is certainly plenty of discipline and punishment handed out, but he also always calls them back to the higher vision he has for their life. He renames people, he reminds them of his faithfulness to them, and he holds out the hope of who he is making them out to be. Imagine how different children would be if we loved them in the hope of who God is making them into, speaking that reality to them daily, and calling them to something higher, not just away from punishment but to a better way of being.

So I love this song, this message of which is "Do good, not because God will be angry at you, but because He is watching you in love as he molds you into the person he has created you to be."

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