Summary: This sermon is part 2 in a series. It looks at intimacy between parents and developing a whole family that serves like Christ serves us.
Raising Christlike Children part 2
This is part 2 in a series on Raising Christlike Children.
Last week I touched on the idea that some parents say, “Hold it, Stop the train. I want to get off. My parents weren’t educated, but they just loved us, and we turned out all right. So why make such a big deal of it? Aren’t we making parenting too hard?”
I must confess I have some sympathy for these thoughts. But there are some very real reasons that today’s parents must be far more intentional in the parenting process. In the traditional pattern of the first hundred and fifty years of our country Australia was far more homogenous. An accepted pattern of life was held by the general population. Right was right and wrong was wrong, and most people agreed about what fell into each category. Parents, the school, the church, and the neighbours all agreed on proper behaviour for children, and each reinforced the other. If parents loved their children and provided for their physical needs and “did what came naturally” in parenting their children, the children probably did turn out all right. A part of that family pattern involved parental authority; children were taught to respect their parents and other adults. Since everyone was teaching the child the same principles, it was not difficult for the child to understand and learn to live within that framework.
Today’s sermon is draws heavily from the bible and respected author Gary Chapman’s book the Family You Have Always Wanted.
The two points I want to cover today are
1. Intimacy between husband and wife
2. Families who serve
Jennifer was crying. “I just don’t understand, I used to be so close to Rob. We shared everything. He was so kind and tender and understanding. He wrote me poems and gave me flowers, but now all of that is gone. I just don’t know him anymore. He is not the man I married. We can’t even talk without getting into an argument. We seem so far apart. I know he must be as miserable as I am. I know he is not happy.”
What has happened to the intimacy between Jennifer and Rob? The answer is as old as creation itself. Genesis describes the beginnings of the relationship between the first woman and the first man:
I’m certain that most couples expect to find intimacy in marriage, but it somehow eludes them.
Dr James Dobson
Genesis 3: 1 - 24
Most couples only dream of the perfect intimacy of Paradise. We may start married life with a relatively high measure of intimacy, but at some point we replace intimacy with isolation.
We don’t “obtain intimacy” and keep it as a treasure for the rest of our lives. Intimacy is fluid, not static, and it comes from open, honest, ongoing communication. Communication involves two simple elements: talking, in which one is telling the other something of his or her thoughts, feelings, and experiences while the other is listening and seeking to understand what the first person is thinking and feeling. The second in turn reveals his or her own thoughts, feelings, and experiences while the other listens and seeks to understand. The simple process of talking and listening maintains intimacy.
Five Steps to Intimacy
Number 1: We tell our thoughts (intellectual intimacy).
Number 2: We discuss our feelings (emotional intimacy).
Number 3: We spend time together and discuss the time we have spent apart (social intimacy).
Number 4: We open our souls to each other (spiritual intimacy).
Number 5: We share our bodies (physical intimacy).
BURYING OUR EMOTIONS
And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
What makes humility so desirable is the marvellous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God.
Monica Baldwin (British Author)
This sounds obvious, as something we should all be doing. What hinders the communication at deeper emotional level? Let me suggest some common hindrances.
One reason we do not discuss our feelings in a Christian way is that we are not in touch with them. For whatever reason, some of us have been trained to deny our emotions. Perhaps earlier in life someone led us to believe that our emotions were not acceptable. We never saw our father show sadness or weakness, only stoic silence. Maybe our mother said, “Always look on the bright side.” A grandmother said, “Big boys don’t cry.” Fear, negativism, sharing of what we really thought or wondered about—these things are often discouraged growing up.
For others, the deep emotional pain experienced in childhood has coloured their adult reality. The pain of parents’ separation, the memory of physical abuse, the grief over the untimely death of a parent—these and other experiences of emotional pain were never processed as a child. The feelings lie deeply buried within the Christian. Years ago, the person stopped feeling because the pain was so intense. He or she separated his intellectual life from his emotional life and is no longer in touch with how he feels. When you ask this person, “How do you feel about you feel about your sister’s cancer?” his response will be, “I don’t have any feelings. I just hope she gets well.” He is not evading the question. He simply is not in touch with the emotional side of his humanity. For this person to find health and healing, he will likely require the help of a trained counsellor. It does not help for the spouse to condemn him for not discussing his emotions.