Saturday, April 26

Not Superhero Parents

People comment to us all the time that we must have a special grace as parents to be raising a large family. I've been thinking about those comments lately because something about them just rubs me the wrong way. Something about that theology just doesn't fit my Christian beliefs.

Granted, we come from an area where large families are not common. I could count on two hands the large families I know or know of and that would be a stretch. Three kiddos around here is considered a BIG family and so I think it is easy for the average 2.1 size family to look at us and think we've got something that they haven't (besides kids!).

Does God really give grace to one set of parents and not to another? Does God prefer one set of parents over another? Or is it just that when you're in the place of raising a large family, as we are, dependence on God is a vital everyday ingredient and it is easy to see just how much grace is free and available for the asking/taking?

There is a free shelf at one of our local libraries, mostly outdated encyclopedias and computer science books. On a recent Thursday morning trip, we hit the jackpot. It seems a local church emptied out their children's library, donating the books to the public library, who in turn set them out for free. We grabbed them. I like good free things!

One book from the 50's is called The Friend of Children and tells the story of Jesus and the little boy with the small basket lunch. If you aren't familiar with the Biblical account, Jesus took five barley loaves and a few fish and fed a great crowd with the contents of a small boy's lunchbox.

I was lousy at math in school but even I know that this is multiplication at its best. I love that in verse nine of the story, Andrew asks Jesus, "what are these for so many people?" I don't think it matters if you're talking about bread and fish or patience and sleep. A God of multiplication can take whatever you are short on and multiply it to the utmost until there is more than enough.

I often have felt like asking God, "what is this small amount of patience for four children, two dogs, innumerable poultry, sticky floors, cluttered counters and unkempt beds with grocery shopping to be done and guests coming for dinner? It isn't enough!"
I think that what we rely on God for is exactly what He'll give us. Nothing more and nothing less. The Bible teaches us that God doesn't hold favorites, that He knows exactly what we need, and that He loves to give good gifts to His children. Contrary to cultural belief, children, according to God, are considered a good gift and so are the patience, grace, strength and wisdom it takes to raise them.

I begin each morning pretty much the same. My tired eyes crack open and I squint at the sun beginning to pour into the windows and across our bed. I groan. My back hurts and is stiff. And I pray for grace and wisdom for the day. That's my big secret.

Sean and I don't have any "special" grace reserved especially for us that's being withheld from other parents. We don't have any wisdom other than what we've asked and prayed and sought that any other parent can't have if they ask and seek.

In the scheme of large families, I consider ours small (that makes Sean get a nervous twitch in the corner of one eye and makes me chuckle). But since we are considered to be a large family, let me speak from that podium for just a second and say that we only do others an injustice when we pretend that we do have a special grace for parenting or special unattainable wisdom on the subject. We just cheat other families out of the joy of having a large family and we cheat the kingdom of God out of Christian parents raising more than 2.1 champions for Christ.

We aren't Superhero parents.


Karen G. said...

It's my opinion that God gives each of us the "grace" that we need and that we ask for. I only needed the "grace" for 2 children while you need a little more. That grace isn't reserved for just you - as you have said - it is freely given to those who need and ask for it. God bless you, Sean and your family - however large it might get.

Pam said...

Hi Hannah!

I believe that God always gives the grace to do His will. The Bible is clear that children are a blessing from Him. I'm glad that you "unmask" the myth that certain parents are more talented or have more grace than others. The glory goes to God for any good that comes from our families and what becomes of our children. We are all sinners, regardless of how many kids we have! You bring the Lord glory with your humility that your "secret" is in praying to Him for strength and wisdom and recognizing every day that these things come directly from Him for His own glory!


New Mom said...


I see what you mean, kinda...
Maybe it bothers you because if certain parents are simply BORN with some special endowment of grace for a large family, it diminishes the EFFORT parents of large families put forth {lots of prayer for patience, wisdom, strength, grace and lots of unselfishness}; it furthermore diminishes the goodness of God to give us ALL that we need! From my perspective, I think that when someone says something along those lines, it's a compliment. Meaning you are full of grace, and can handle the responsibility of several children. Quite simply, some people are too selfish for that. I'm beginning to realize I'm too selfish for that! Growing up in a big family {8 kids}, I realize how much strength my parents had, and how much they leaned on God. That being said, I do think that certain personalities are more suited to a large family than others. Obviously, God can stretch each one of us to give us what we need in order to raise however many children, I just think that for some people it's more of a stretch than for others! I know that selflessness doesn't come easy, it's something we have to work at every day, so believe me, I think that parents of large families deserve A LOT of credit, and to God be the glory for all that is holy and good and true within us. All of this to say that when people make comments like "you must have a gift of patience" or "you must have a gift of grace" they really mean, "Wow, I admire the amount of patience you have with your children. I recognize that I do not have that much patience or grace." At least I know that's what I mean!

Anonymous said...

I keep checking your blog and when I see a gap in time since you posted, I can't help but think it's baby time! Is it? I know you have a million other things to do, but those of us who read your blog faithfully (at least me, anyway) think of you like a friend and wonder if our friend has gone into labor. If I was a real life friend, I'd be watching your kids and bringing you food. But since I'm not, I'm just praying for you guys. And wondering if anything has happened yet!


Anonymous said...

That was nicely written, thank you. God meets us all where we are at...we just need to seek Him.

Me said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! I wasn't sure what kind of response I'd get on this topic. I do know that God has available for each of us exactly what we need to accomplish what he's called us to.
In no way do I misunderstand anyone who compliments our family and our job as parents. I appreciate the compliments but just want to be clear that there isn't anything special about us or that God has somehow given us something exclusive...
One friend commented that maybe grace is like faith and given in different portions and I'm still studying on that one... For now though, I stick with my original hypothesis that God's grace and equipping isn't an exclusive thing.

Borbe Bunch said...

Thanks for what you wrote...I likewise start out every day the same way, RELYING on GOD alone to give the grace, strength, and wisdom needed to raise our blessings HE has given and entrusted to us, to parent and raise up for HIS glory. I stopped by to check in on you, I knew your special BIRTH day was fast approaching, praying for you even today...
God bless, I enjoyed catching up on all your precious pictures!
Liz...a Mamma to four precious little ones, with another little man joining us mid July...