Three Questions Toward the Rebuilding of Trust

How can trust be rebuilt even through failure?
Perhaps its a matter of asking the right questions.
More important than the question,
                  “Can Peter be trusted?” is the question,
                  “Can Jesus be trusted?” 
Jesus chose Peter.  But can Peter be trusted?  
He said, “I’ll never leave you.  I’ll die for you.  Even if everyone else bails, I’ll stay.” 
But then he got scared and he broke trust. 
And yet the relationship between Jesus and Peter, ultimately grows.
It’s not because Peter can be trusted.
It’s because Jesus can. 
More important than the question,
         “Can you trust your child?” is the question,
         “Can your child trust you?”* 
In other words, the way relationships between kids and parents gets stronger – even through failure – is by the parent showing that they are trustworthy even when the kid fails. 
         And an even more important question is this:
                 “Can we trust God?”
So the ultimate question isn’t about Peter or my kids or me or anyone else.
It’s not about our trustworthiness.  It’s really about God’s. 
         Healthy attachment can grow – even through failure –
                  whenever the invitation exists to
                           root the relationship in the
                                    greater strength of Another.  
When my relationship with you isn’t ultimately about me or you, but instead is rooted in God, then there is always hope – even hope for the rebuilding of trust.  Because ultimately, our relationship isn’t about my trustworthiness or yours.  It’s about God’s.  And as we both look to Him for wholeness, our own brokenness can be overcome.  

*Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, Joiner and Nieuhoff

Love is Stronger

There’s another shift that needs to take place if we’re going to pass-on the faith to the next generation:
We must truly believe that love is stronger than fear.

I think this is always true.
But it is especially true in terms of Biblical character development. In the Christian story, love is the starting point, not fear of punishment.
Some of us would probably say that our faith development was very much motivated by a fear of punishment – as in eternal punishment.   And I realize some fearful threats exist in scripture, that there are Biblical stories of God punishing people, and that fear works as a motivator on a lot of levels. 
But I’d respond to any proponent of a model rooted in fear with this:
First, fear might work, but true love works better.  Love is an even better motivator than fear.  Its literally better (as in more good).  And it lasts longer.
Fear of punishment might motivate me to keep the rules, to drive the speed limit, at least until the cop drives by.  Once the threat of punishment is removed usually the motivation to keep the rules is gone too.  Unless the motivation is something stronger than fear.  Fear of punishment can motivate a person to keep the rules.  But is that what the Christian faith is about?  Keeping the rules?  No. 
And second, God wants us to be motivated by love.  This whole story is based on God wanting a real, authentic, love relationship with people.  

Love is stronger than fear.

I need to believe that when I pray.
I need to believe that when I parent.

intuition beats intellection

If we are to have a fighting chance in the struggle of passing-on the faith to the next generation, we need to shift our beliefs about how true formation happens.

We need to believe and embrace that intuition beats intellection. When it comes to religious formation:
meaning our character,
                  our ethics,
                  our beliefs,
                  the things that ultimately form the way we live,        
Intuitive Development matters
far more than intellectual development.
 In other words, you can be taught intellectually,
through formal educational methods:
         lecture, books, etc.,
                  that most snakes are perfectly harmless.

But if you intuitively feel uneasy around snakes –
even little ones with little mouths –
         then what you believe intuitively
                  will beat out what you’ve been taught intellectually.

Or you could hear from a teacher at church that
you should love people because Jesus loved people –
you might hear a story about Jesus loving people,
you might do a craft and
         make a heart and
         write a Bible verse on it “God so loved the world” and
         give it to your mom for the refrigerator door…
          but if what you experience in much of real life
                  is that loving people is risky,
                  if you don’t sense that those in your home
                           treat one another lovingly,
                  if you, intuitively, know that you’re not really
                           loved by those around you,
 what is happening intuitivelybeats out what is happening intellectually.  

Every time.  

John Westerhoff III writes this in his book Will Our Children Have Faith? “…I learned that there are two ways to think and know,
the intellectual and the intuitive. And it is the intuitive,
the pre-rational… that is foundational to religious life.”

We could say it this way:
all of life educates (not just “formal” education).

So here’s my question:
What did you teach your child today when you weren’t even trying to teach them?  

Laugh at the Destroyer

“Israel ate the meat of a dumb lamb to complete the Passover.  Having done so, they smeared their doorposts with blood and laughed at the destroyer.”  – Athanasius 4th Century

Amidst the pain
Of suffering
Of deceit
Of injustice
Of sorrow

I Stand
Behind the Blood

And proclaim:
“You can kill my body but you cannot have my soul.
I am purchased by the Redeemer who Rose Again.
And when sin’s tantrum is finally exhausted I will stand with my King,
Fully alive.