“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
– Philippians 2:1-2 NIV
Encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion. In the second chapter of the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul infers to the reader that there should be the evidence of what is mentioned in the list opening this post to validate the authenticity of one’s relationship with Christ. The words Paul uses are action words that suggest that a sincere believer should have an interactive relationship with God-the -Father, through faith in Christ, that results in consistent, constant intermittent hug breaks between God and each of His followers.
In the same way, Paul infers that what we receive in our faith walk with Christ should then influence us to be like-minded, like Christ, in how we make use of our hug breaks with God with others. It’s the same principle of love Christ taught His disciples when He challenged them to love one another as He loved them in John’s gospel. It is also the same principle of love God commands us to follow from the 2nd commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. As I’ve shared with other parents, regardless of the transition, we should simply seek to parent our children.
It has been often stated that there is no ‘book’ that teaches us how to parent our children. As often as I have heard this, as I’ve grown in my faith walk with Christ, I reflect upon how God feels about those who say that, but more importantly believe it as truth. The bible teaches in 2 Peter 1 that everything we need for life and godliness comes through our knowledge of God. Our knowledge of God is best obtained through our time spent reading the scripture and receiving clarity from God as we invest time reflecting upon and meditating on His word. Even more so today, there are countless authors that, through the inspiration of His Spirit, write in a way that illuminates His word to teach, us, guide us and empower us in being effective Christian parents.
The story of the prodigal son is an eternal reminder to us as parents that, even in our best efforts and intentions as sincere parents and followers of Christ, our children can still go astray as we do with God as our Father. All this understood, how much better the quality of the lives of our children and our families would be if we implemented the ritual of a ‘hug break.’ As the transition began and my children would come to see me during the week after school, especially on the weekends they were with me, there would be moments where I would say, ‘Hug break!’ No matter what was happening, at that moment, we stopped and gave each other affectionate hugs.
Love can be expressed as a term of endearment, but the bible’s description of love is not expressed in words with the tongue, but in actions and in truth (see I Corinthians 13 and I John 3:16-18). How much the world around me will be a better place if I made it my mission to give hugs to those around me as a means to spread love. In the African-american community, while I was in college, there was a mantra printed on t-shirts that read, ‘Each one Teach one.’ How about, ‘Each one, Hug one.?’ I know it sounds corny, maybe even sappy, but to this day, my children will come to me at random moments and offer me a hug. A revolution? Maybe, maybe not, but anything is possible right?
May God bless you and help you to share His encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion with your children as you transition towards resiliency.