The Ebenezers I’ve described up to now are familiar enough and have been repeated enough that I’m comfortable in describing them. The stories to come, however, are all new. And I don’t know how to say it all yet. I’m hoping that this exercise of re-telling those events helps me in seeing God at work. As much as God had discipled us between July 2001 and May 2004, there was so much ahead. Everything, it seemed, would change.
So God brought us to a place in our parenting that we never imagined, a place that we didn’t even know existed. I can call it different things: “grace-based parenting,” “positive discipline,” “mothering by grace.” But what it means on a practical level is that Grant and I chose to remove spanking from our parenting toolbox. We still discipline, of course, but in the older sense of the term (rather than the contemporary American usage) — we teach. And what does that mean on a theological and philosophical and cosmological level? That we’re still digesting. Living out the Gospel changes every relationship, every interaction, every decision . . . It’s really a move from the tragedy that we humans are mired in to the comedy in Christ we can all enjoy. It is radical.
I had fully intended to never breathe a word about this until my oldest was 18 or so. Or maybe 15. I could see that. But I was going to shut up and parent in secret. Parenting choices are all your own to make, right? And it was our decision, right? No one needs to know.
And then, of course, God changed all those plans. ::more ominous music::
The first public announcement of our being counter-cultural parents was an impetuous decision made on a rainy South Carolina morning. It was pouring. And I was to meet Grant at the BJU Dining Common with Isaac for lunch. I had to carry an umbrella and other things. It was wet and very cold. A stroller, quite honestly, made no sense. But this was tough. There in Ezzoland, did I dare to walk in to the most public and social place slinging my son? Everyone would see and everyone would talk about my radical “marsupial” status. The tongues were still wagging about my silly hairdo from several months prior.
Practicality got the best of me. It was wet and my son needed to stay warm. Forget the gossip, I’m slinging him. And there he went in that little $0.56 ring sling. Snug and warm. Next to me and under the umbrella. I sang quietly in his ear “Raindrops, raindrops, tiny little raindrops . . . in each drop is God’s great love!” as we walked. It was the best walk in the rain evah.
And we did turn more than a few heads that day and in the coming months. Mind you — the grandmotherly sorts didn’t care because they were too busy cooing at and talking with Isaac. The early childhood educators didn’t mind because they were citing positive research on baby wearing. And the college kids didn’t flinch because they were just talking about the engineering of such a contraption or curious at how human their professors seemed. It was my contemporaries that were raising eyebrows very quietly because they knew on which side of the parenting “wars” I was siding.
I got more and more bold, and the slinging was so practical. He just plopped right in there and smiled at all the friendly students eye-to-eye. I made tons of slings and bought a few. No wonder so many moms over the history of the world have carried their wee ones. It just makes sense!
We really didn’t say much more. I’m sure people knew we were . . . “off.” What with the extended and tandem nursing and all that slinging. And the only reason I’m describing this very small event is that this tiny little “outing” is a sort of foreshadowing of the events to come.
God was gently pushing us outside of our comfort zones. And the coming months? . . . . They brought a whole new sort of Ebenezers. Monuments that I’m erecting right here as I write.
While Samuel was offering the sacrifice, the Philistines came within range to fight Israel. Just then God thundered, a huge thunderclap exploding among the Philistines. They panicked—mass confusion!—and ran helter-skelter from Israel. Israel poured out of Mizpah and gave chase, killing Philistines right and left, to a point just beyond Beth Car. Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”
I Samuel 7:10-12
[tags]Baby wearing, slinging, Ebenezers, Gary Ezzo, Attachment parenting, Mothering by Grace[/tags]