Remember what Rafiki said? "You don't even know who you are..."

If you haven't seen The Lion King, don't even read this blog post. But I'm assuming you have, not just because it's decades old now, but rather because it's basically a rite of passage.

So, do you remember the scene when Rafiki (the baboon; I'm only going to do this once!) told Simba that he didn't know who he was, and that's why he was refusing to go back and take his place as king among his pride? I feel that American parents are suffering under the same hard thumb as Simba was there.

The way I see it, being a parent means having a few apprentices. These apprentices follow you all the time, especially when they are young. And actually, they want to be just like you (at first!). But... what if you don't want them to be like you? What if you are reflecting on your identity as a collection of faults? You would certainly not want these people following you around, let alone mimicking you. But that's just what God wants them to do. Flaws and all.

I recently watched a unique and inspiring retelling of the life of Jesus, The Chosen (download their free app for episodes; and by the way, this is unsponsored, I was just really impressed). The Jesus in this story told Simon, a fisherman by trade, that he was simply to catch fish, and that He would sort them out later. I think this fits in perfectly with raising children. It isn't your job to perfect them. We can't, we don't have perfect wisdom. But our job is to teach them to love God, and to love people. The rest of it is the job for God to sort out.

"Run Away..." but you should probably return

If you think parenting is just being attacked all the time, well... you're right. But at some point, you may learn that when they are trained to let you have time to yourself, they will. Consider this, Jesus told his disciples to leave-him-be plenty of times; he needed to go off and pray. Guess what, we have our very own versions of John (who probably talked too much), and Peter (who was always provoking fights), Thomas (who, likely, asked too many questions), and James (who was just... well, a little brother). We need our time away just like Jesus did.

When you go away, commit to spending time with Christ. If that means closing yourself into your bedroom or bathroom (door locked) while that baby takes his or her nap, do it. If that looks like you praying in your car before you get to work, do that. If you need to take a prayer walk on the way to your workout, do it!

But there is a warning, too. If we only devote our personal time to doing something for ourselves or for someone else (read: shopping, workouts, or projects for work) then we will never feel ready to return to our children. But if, purposefully, we spend some of our time away in prayer and mediation, the Father will remind us that, "He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Because He lives in you, He can be like a stage manager of sorts--directing everything, signaling things to take place in an order that benefits us most. We just have to invite him to do so.

"He Lives In You"

In the scene where Simba is struggling to see his identity and accept his place as king, Rafiki tells Simba "He lives in you!" This is, actually, the turning point of the whole movie. For a moment, Simba looks at his reflection in the pond and sees both he and his father's reflections. He then finds the courage to go forth and take his place as a king. The same is true for you, mom... dad! He lives in You (or, if you want, He can!). You do not have to be a great storyteller. You do not have to have impenetrable patience (reality check, who does?). You don't even have to care more about them than you do about you. You simply have to ask God to step between you and your awareness of self. You have to be okay shutting off your own view of self, and putting on God's glasses. When you see Him inside you, you will gain courage to do what He set before you.

Struggling to recognize your identity doesn't mean you haven't got one.

"Take your place"

Maybe your identity has been discolored in the muddle of your life struggles--but it's still there. As you journey to find where you lost it--watching your mom and dad fight, wishing they'd stop ignoring you; listening to your grandmother say you would never be the "mothering" type; feeling that hole from a missing a parent in your life--just know that a discolored identity doesn't equal a lack of identity. More simply, struggling to recognize your identity doesn't mean you haven't got one. Likewise, being unable to choose a pair of shoes for the day doesn't mean you have none to wear. You just may need to recognize what you do have.

It's time to take your place as king (or queen) of your family--no more avoiding responsibility for lack of identity. Invite the Father in and learn to see what He sees. Then, when your disciples follow you around--I mean, your children--you will know that you did all you can to show them the Father.

The rest is up to Him to sort out.

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