How to Parent: 23 Years of Parenting Experience Summed Up in 2 Words

For months, Dawn and I have talked about writing a series of advice posts about parenting. We’ve been through one strong-willed toddler, one semi-rebellious teen, and one very depressed middle-schooler, three kids in all. Our parenting journey includes some short-term government assistance, an unexpected and difficult career transition, several years of parenting while medicated, and miraculously, lots of joy-filled memories for all five of us.

The Hetricks in Sugar Cane, 2002

[The Hetricks at the Mountain Farm, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, 2002.]

But, as I’ve struggled to summarize what we learned from experience in a simple, how-to-parent intro post, I finally decided that our 23 years of parenting experience can be boiled down to just these two words:

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Being Angry With God

You know what amazes me? – that God loves me.

Darkness

As readers of Average Us know, I experience recurring cycles between what I call “feeling good” and depression. During the depression cycles, I feel all sorts of dark, awful things. I lose control of my normal thought processes. I feel pain inside and out. And the only thing that anchors me is the hope of future freedom because of what God did for me in Christ.

I want to tell you about one particular cycle. I had all the same pangs of depression, but this time there was also something else:

Anger

I was angry with God – not a loud, in your face kind of anger – but a tired, brooding anger that was so buried inside that I couldn’t even admit it to myself. But I knew it was there. The anger and tiredness led to despondency. I was to the point of not caring. My soul was so thirsty for Him, but He felt trillions of miles away and was very, very silent.

And Worship

One night during this time I awoke with a start. I was filled with fear and panic. On the edge of losing it, I cried out to God for help. Then, alongside the fear came worship. Worship songs started to fill my mind. I should have been thankful – but I wasn’t. I was still angry. Angry that I woke up (AGAIN) with panic. The next morning I awoke with my mind again filled with music…worship. This pattern of waking up to worship songs went on. It was beautiful. My tired soul welcomed it. But I was still angry. And because of that anger, I did not “see” God in this experience. He was still miles away. Trying to pray and read the Bible was a disaster because my troubled mind still could not concentrate. That made me even angrier. But, the music went on…every morning and now throughout the day.

And Love

Do you see it? Do you see the love? Despite my anger toward Him and despondency toward the life He has given me, He sang over me. He sang over me every day and I ignored Him. I weep. Not because I was angry, but because in my anger I missed seeing Him. The prophet Jonah wrote, “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” I could have seen that love and rejoiced in it. But instead I clung to my idol, my anger.

And Tears

But I also weep to know of His amazing love for me. My anger did not stop Him from loving me. My anger did not change His grace. I just couldn’t or wouldn’t see it for a while. I’m amazed at such a love that forgives even as I am angry. Was my anger a sin? Probably. But His kindness moves me to repentance, and today, today I am basking in the love I don’t understand.


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