Involvement or Interference?

Pelicans

Because of a project I’ve been working on, I’ve become reacquainted with some of the women of the Bible. Although I knew about them and their families and histories, rereading their stories has given me additional insight into their courage and faith. The two women I’m referring to are Jochebed and Hannah.

In case your memory of Jochebed is a little sketchy, my version of her story is that she gave birth to Moses at a time when Pharaoh had ordered that all Hebrew baby boys be murdered. The midwives refused to do this, and they lied to Pharaoh, saying that the Hebrew women were vigorous and strong and that they gave birth before a mid-wife had time to arrive.

Jochebed kept Moses close by for three months, but when he began to grow and become more active, she knew that she couldn’t keep him quiet forever. Trusting that God would preserve him, Jochebed put her sweet baby in a basket covered with tar and placed him in the Nile River. She knew that Pharaoh’s daughter came to bathe there and trusted that the princess would rescue Moses.

When the princess spotted the baby, she felt compassion on him, and although she wanted to raise him as her own (my take on it), she knew that such a small baby would need a nursemaid. Out comes Miriam, Moses’ sister, from behind the bulrushes and tells Pharaoh’s daughter that she knows someone who will nurse and nurture the baby until he can be weaned. The princess agrees to this arrangement.

The day of separation for Moses and Jochebed comes at last, and he is raised in Pharaoh’s palace with many advantages, including an education that prepares him for his vital leadership role as an Israelite leader.

What would have happened if Jochebed had said NO to letting him go?

Hannah is the other mother on my mind. She had wanted a child for years, and yet she remained childless. Although her husband Elkanah never complained about her childless state, she was grieved by it, especially when she saw the children who had been born to Elkanah and his first wife.

When Hannah and Elkanah traveled to Shiloh, she went to the temple to pray for a child. Eli the Priest, after inquiring about what he perceived to be her drunken state, learned of Hannah’s fervent desire for a child and of her promise to give him to the Lord “all the days of his life.”

Eli told Hannah to go in peace and promised that God would grant her petition. She trusted in that assurance completely, and after Samuel was weaned, Hannah kept her word. It must have been difficult to turn her precious little son over to Eli, but Hannah felt that Samuel was indeed a gift from God and wanted to turn he over to Him.

The day of separation for Hannah and Samuel came at last, and she went back to the tabernacle and presented the child to Eli to be raised there. I don’t know how often she saw her son after that day. Some speculate that she visited him regularly. I don’t know. I do know that (to me) it gives deeper meaning to the oft-cited phrase, “Let go and let God.”

What would have happened if Hannah had said NO to turning Samuel over to Eli?

Moses grew up to be one of the most influential men in all history, a man whom the Lord knew “face to face.” He led the Israelites out of Egypt and later gave us, through God, the Ten Commandments. Samuel was a remarkable man whom God used as a great prophet and judge of Israel.

I can’t help but wonder what their lives would have been like if their mothers had continued to keep them close or to meddle in their lives. Sociologists and psychologists study a social phenomenon called helicopter parents who hover over their children, even adult ones, ready to swoop down and take over regardless of age or of the child’s abilities, desires, or predilections.

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to step back and when to become involved. And sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between involvement and interference. I have no answers to this dilemma. I just know that we might never have heard of Moses or Samuel if their mothers hadn’t turned them over.

What do you think? How can mothers know when to when to let go? How do they stay on the involvement side without crossing over into interference?

Confessions and Revelations

Confession: My friends and I aren’t perfect. Revelation: Neither are you!

A facebook post from my friend Connie has motivated me to say a few things that have been on my mind and in my heart lately. She and I attend the same church and see eye-to-eye on most (maybe all) things spiritual. She’s a “sister” who, like me, does her dead level best to be kind, honest, caring, giving, and all those other positive things that we’re supposed to do. We turn the other cheek, work on being nonjudgmental, love our families, attend most church meetings, pay our tithing, and even visit sick people in the hospital.

Connie and I often laugh and joke at where we’d be and what kind of lives we’d be living without what we refer to as “the gospel” in our lives. It’s only a skip and a hop to pondering the same thing about our friends and acquaintances who are apparently farther along the path of enlightenment than we are…or so it would seem from the outside looking in.

But are things always the way they seem? I know folks who darken the church doorway more frequently than I probably do, but they’re judgmental, unforgiving, and rumor mongering (always wanted to use that term). Others are pessimistic beyond belief although throughout the scriptures we’re told to be of good cheer. They worry incessantly about tomorrow despite the frequent Biblical instruction to have faith. Remember the tiny sparrow?

And then there are those who could spout off the 10 Commandments like nobody’s business, but they put possessions and “other gods” before God, take His name in vain, and/or treat their parents abysmally. And let’s don’t forget those who think keeping the Sabbath holy means going out to eat after church and sleeping the afternoon away. Don’t even bother responding to this by telling me that going out to eat as a family keeps unity going AND helps insure that those working in restaurants have jobs. (As an aside, I’ve been known to do all of the above.)

Here’s the difference between Connie and me and “those other people.” We KNOW that we aren’t perfect, and we don’t need anyone to tell us that or to remind us of the shoulds and should nots. We know them, and we’re trying to incorporate them into our lives as best as we can. All of us are in different spots in our spiritual progression.

Time to bring this to a close. Here’s what I know: LOVE is the word. As I write this, I can’t help but think of my former mother-in-law and the many acts of love and compassion that I’ve seen her perform. This afternoon, I’m thinking specifically of how she’d often leave church early to go home and put the finishing touches on a scrumptious meal for her family. Lots of mothers do that; I used to too (although my children might take issue with the scrumptious part).

Here’s what set her apart from me and the other mothers. Before any family members partook of the Sunday feast, she fixed a plate of goodies for a “shut-in” neighbor and sent it over by one of her sons. Did she leave church early? Yes. Did anyone at church have anything to say about it? Yes. Did she show love? Yes. Did you?

Here’s my goal as found in Micah 6:8. I rediscovered this scripture after reading Same Kind of Different as Me.  “And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

What’s a Raghead?

How can anyone who’s parading around as a Christian have such narrow-minded and prejudiced attitudes?

 

The next person who calls Nikki Haley a raghead within my earshot needs to be prepared for a verbal assault. On second thought, I probably wouldn’t bombard you with a barrage of terms letting you know just how prejudiced and uncalled-for your comments are. That would be unbecoming, wouldn’t it?

Seriously though, I don’t understand how someone who purports to be following the basic guideline of “love one another” can continue to make disparaging remarks about Indians, Muslims, Mexicans, Lebanese, Chinese, Buddhists, Mormons,  Nigerians, or any other group who looks, act, or speaks a little differently.  If the world is to be a better one, we need to realize that it’s US, not us and THEM. 

When you call someone a raghead, what do you mean? Does that person not have hopes and dreams and aspirations just like you do? Is she somehow inferior to you because her family came from another country? Even if you were born in America, were your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents born here too? Or do you even know your country of origin? And even if your forefathers jumped right off the boat at Plymouth Rock, does that mean you descended from royalty? Were these people the aristocracy of England?

Nary a day passes that I don’t hear some snide remark about Mexicans living in the USA. I know some are illegal, but many are United States citizens just like you are. They work, pay taxes, and spend money to keep our economy running. Most don’t have as much money as you do because they’re out doing jobs that you don’t want to do, jobs that require tons of physical effort but don’t pay much. And yes, I know some of you are annoyed that they don’t speak English. I’ve heard, “If you’re going to live in America, you need to speak English!” about a million times. I agree with my friend Jim who says that they’d probably love to learn our language; however, they’re so busy maintaining our lawns and constructing our buildings to take classes. And speaking of classes, even if they had time to take ESL classes, who’s going to teach them? You?

In case anyone is curious, my personal feeling about speaking and writing English is that those are essential skills for anyone who hopes to be even halfway successful in this great country of ours. Unfortunately, I can probably count on one hand the number of students with Hispanic surnames that I’ve had in my classroom in a teaching career that spans over 30 years. I’ve had the privilege of teaching students from Poland, Nigeria, France, Germany, Vietnam, China, and a few other countries, but so far, the Latino/Latina student is a rarity. I’m puzzled by it. They have to know that not speaking English is a huge deterrent to their success. Sometimes I wonder if their ignorance of the language is an advantage to the employers, apartment owners, and shopkeepers who take advantage of them.

Back to Nikki Haley, maybe you should trace your ancestry before you attack hers. And maybe you should examine your track record before you say something about hers.  What exactly have you done lately to make the world a better place? And besides, aren’t there several scriptural references in the Old Testament about how to treat strangers/aliens?  

Okay, I’m climbing down from my soapbox now. I might be taking all of these comments far too seriously. My son spent a couple of years in Mexico and found the Mexican people to be some of the warmest, friendliest people he’d ever met. He was a stranger in their land for two years, and despite the fact that he looked very different from them, he was never treated as abominably as many here in our country treat those who are “different.”