Here at Story Warren we like to talk a lot about encouraging holy imagination in children and for good reason: Both the culture without and our inherent weakness within militate against seeing the world through the prism of God’s perspective. Today, though, I want to talk about something different. I want to talk about holy imagination for parents. Why? Let me explain.
As I write this, I’m at the tail end of The Sick. (This may seem a bit of an abrupt transition, but hear me out. Or, rather, read me out.) If you’re a parent, you know The Sick. Usually spread by the seemingly innocuous runny noses of your darling moppets, The Sick rarely makes you ill enough to miss work or become bedbound. Instead, it leaves you feeling as though some glutinous parasite has lodged itself within your sinuses, sending sticky tendrils dribbling out of your nose even as it uses the inside of your forehead as an anvil to smithy nefarious instruments of doom (because surely nothing else could cause that nasty, never-ending headache you’re experiencing). The Sick wouldn’t be much of a problem if you didn’t have projects at home, bills to pay (and hopefully money with which to pay them, because when did you last manage to balance your checkbook?), an exhausted spouse, and a bevy of beautiful little maniacs who don’t understand concepts such as personal space or private property but do know that you need to spend a little more attention to them. So you do, and each decision you make feels like dividing Solomon’s proverbial baby, every outcome unideal in some way, shape, or form. But such is life, an ever-turning treadmill that you must race on until you can keep up no longer.
All of this is true—and yet utterly false.
Okay, yeah, parents face daily challenges, tough challenges, and sometimes growing small people into adulthood feels like a thankless, hopeless task. We all know that. But why be anxious or despair? Such trials aren’t the centerpiece of your life. We serve a God who spoke the cosmos into being, breathing out diaphanous nebulae and scattering the stars of the Milky Way like seeds. He works all things to the good of His called, superintends things as small as a sparrow’s life, and cares enough about of our own tiny existences that He catalogues every hair on our heads. What’s more, He does all of this despite the damnable passions that lurk in each of our hearts, stuff as stinking and nasty as stump rot or the things that crouch in darkness beneath rocks. He sought you while you were an enemy, and His love is so ferocious that He bends all things to work together for your salvation. The best part? None of that changes when you’re covered in baby vomit.
Webster tells me that imagination is “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.” So when attending to your family gets tough, exercise it. Embody within your mind those principles that you know to be true. Turn the imagination God gave you to holy ends—the very ends that you want for your children.
(Picture: CC 2011 by Skiwalker79)
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- A Contentious, Incontestible Boy - January 27, 2021
Thanks for the definition, Loren! So much of parenting is working toward “something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality” in my children or in myself. We need to lift our heads and keep moving on…. even on boogy days. 🙂
Loren Eaton says
Oh my goodness, those boogey days! They kill me.
Thanks for your kind words, ma’am.
James Witmer says
This is great, Loren.
Thanks for pointing out that we need imagination to gain the perspective we need. Or, to put it another way, that imagination is a functional part of faith.
Also, I just plain needed to be reminded this week, to have my own imagination sparked. Thank you.
Ami Thompson says
Perfect! Love these moments when I read something that switches on the light for me in an area. I have been using my imagination to imagine other places we could be or other ways we could live. This is so much better! God is so good!