God is Not a Helicopter Parent
I have fallen away from reading during this Covid season, and my writing has likewise been sketchy. My ability to concentrate is reduced and I feel I am always waiting for something --- for more bad news, for something to change to allow “normal” to return, or for the go-ahead to make plans. But thanks to partnering with a friend, I am reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and writing every morning in “The Morning Pages.”
This week’s reading, “Recovering a Sense of Abundance,” looks at who we think God is and what we believe or want to believe. This blog isn’t about that, but was inspired by what occurred to me as I was writing in my journal, that God is not a helicopter parent. He lets us make mistakes that become learning opportunities.
After the whole creation thing, God sat back for a while and let humans make a mess of the world. Then there was the flood. Then we started anew with humans doing the work that God made possible. There were challenges with cooperation that some learned better than others. God intervened in a big way by sending his Son, with much-needed guidance that lasted a short lifetime but continues with the stories preserved in the Bible, adding to plenty of lessons in the Old Testament and the often ignored 10 Commandments. Currently we are messing up the world again with crime, disease, destroying nature, and failing to work together. I can only imagine the angst of God as he waits for us to figure it out.
What God doesn’t do is intervene too much. Like the parent who allows their child to submit a science fair project that is far from perfect, God probably feels like screaming sometimes when he knows we didn’t do the job he would have done or that reflects our dedication and abilities. He isn’t worried about winning first prize. He lets us learn from our mistakes and doesn’t make our work his ego. Helicopter parents are the ones who say “we” when they are speaking about their child, who say “you should” instead of “have you considered,” who fudge on rules, and who pressure their children to accomplish parental goals and fail to consider the children’s interests.
He gives us the tools to do things right but sometimes everything goes wrong and we don’t know why. When something tragic happens, it is too easy to blame God.
When I allow myself to think things through, analyze options, and make a sound decision, he is probably partially responsible…such as when I briefly hesitated to begin a drive and a deadly accident occurred at the time and place I would have otherwise been. I’ve always thought God gave me that suggestion to hesitate…because I still had work to do. Conversely, I accepted a job that was a poor fit and ignored my God-given ability to discern. I never heard “you should,” but was given the capacity to make a good decision and the freedom to choose poorly. We aren’t smart because God made us smart; we are smart because God gave us the capacity.
We have the ability to get through this Covid mess together. Love your neighbor and be safe. God gave us the capacity to spread diseases and mankind has the capacity to figure out the best ways to solve the problem. I trust that we will. In the time it takes.