Parenting is tough work, as well as perfectly bewildering.
I became a parent this past week. Of six kids. Simultaneously. Like with most new attempts in life, one thinks that parenting should be fairly easy. Then one tries it.
The eldest brother and I were left in charge for four days while our parents were out of town, and one thing quickly became apparent: we’re just not used to thinking like a parents. Siblings think in absolutes, black and white, “Go ask Mom or Dad.” They say things like, “You want some more candy? Have at it.” They lead loud renditions of “You’ll Be in My Heart”, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, and the mouse chorus from Cinderella. They frolick bare-foot through the snow, while humming crazily. Their responsibility ends at nine o’clock, as they cheerfully wave at young siblings borne dreamily away by respective parents.
Parents cannot say, “Go ask Mom or Dad.” They are Mom or Dad. They say things like “How many pieces of candy have you had already? Oooo-kay. I think not.” They only lead loud renditions of said songs on rare occasions, frolicking bare-foot through six inches of snow is not high on their to-do list, and their responsibility ends approximately….
Surprisingly, things went fairly swimmingly. The kids were next to angelic (if your next is about a mile away from angelic), and even helped pick up a time or two. We had our moments, but we survived.
But if we had that many interesting moments while parenting human children, I wonder what it would have been like to parent Jesus.
God in the Flesh. Perfect, sinless, and holy.
Can you imagine telling the your son, the Son of God, to take out the trash? To brush his teeth? Reacting poorly to a mix of chaotic events and speaking to him in anger?
Can you imagine trying to explain to your other children what made your eldest son so special? That God was truly dwelling among them, eating, playing, and laughing at their childish antics?
Can you imagine trying to parent a perfect son?
Obviously, this was an unimaginable honor, and one I’m sure Mary and Joseph embraced with open arms and full hearts. But it can’t have been easy, nor without struggles.
Regardless, I’m sure they prayed, like any good parents, and wept bitter tears over failures and slights that they had unwittingly committed, struggled over difficult decisions, and above all, enjoyed the children God had given them, with the Giver as their eldest Son.
That thought floors me. I failed at being a parent, as my sister cried nightly for her mommy to come back. My parents, though amazing, fail at being parents. Mary and Joseph, as human as anyone who has ever lived, failed at being parents, yet Jesus, the One who spoke life into existence, who created the first man and ultimately, His parents, the One who created marriage and the joy of offspring, put Himself willingly under imperfect parents.
Imperfect parents – a perfect Son. A world of failures – a God who has never failed.
Doesn’t quite compute, does it?
But I find myself overwhelmingly grateful, especially at Christmas, for the complete mystery that is God.