My friends Paula and Eric welcomed their first baby just three weeks ago. Visiting them a few days after they returned from the hospital, I held baby Avery tightly and stared at his tiny face and unusually thick white blond hair—for only ten minutes before I was overcome with anxiety that I would drop him. Struck by the enormous responsibility that my friends now face, I gratefully (and gently) transferred Avery back into his parents' arms.
Even with nine months to prepare for their new son, in an instant, Eric and Paula’s lives were dramatically and irrevocably changed. All of my friends who have welcomed babies into their lives have embraced the responsibility with joy and patience. Observing them adjust to diaper changes, middle-of the-night feedings, and crying fits has been a lesson to me about trusting God, and having grace for one another and ourselves as we navigate new challenges.
But beyond adjusting to a new sleep schedule, which seems daunting enough to me, my friends who are parenting will also face greater challenges in the years to come. I laughed at a story Eric relayed of finding Avery one evening, with his thick hair and strong cowlick, sporting a hairstyle that mimicked Eric’s. With just a bit of hair-coaxing, Avery was a pint-sized version of his dad. The photo that resulted is sweet and funny. But it is also a reminder of the deeper concept of resemblance.
In a sense, a parent asks their children to resemble them. It is an incredibly tall order, in much more important ways than physical appearance. With God’s grace, a parent says to their children, I will be an example for you. I will demonstrate to you what it means to love and serve God and other people. I will encourage you to recognize and develop your gifts. And I will teach you to advocate for those the world ignores. If I have anxiety while simply holding little Avery for a few minutes, my head spins with the responsibility of modeling and teaching a child these important lessons.
As egalitarians, we hold some core beliefs about God, women, and men that we hope to pass onto the next generation, whether through parenting or mentoring. We want our children to be passionately dedicated to Jesus, to be good thinkers, and to be deeply committed to loving, serving, and respecting all people—regardless of their ethnicity, social status, or gender. But how do we fill this tall order? How do we live in a way that makes our request to “resemble us” a clear and worthy pursuit? We have dedicated this issue of Mutuality to these questions. The feature articles, full of personal stories, helpful research, and biblical wisdom, are organized into three sections: how to share parenting responsibilities in an egalitarian way, how to empower children to recognize their worth and pursue their gifts, and how to teach children about biblical equality. We pray our authors’ stories and insights will be an encouragement to you.
A note: I just have to point out the obvious but too often overlooked fact that not all Christians are called to be parents. As many of us have observed, this is a message that churches communicate poorly to women in particular. Yet, Scripture shows us that our worth rests solely in the fact that we belong to Jesus, whether or not we birth and raise children (see Luke 11:27-28). To those readers who, like me, are not in the active stage of parenting, this issue of Mutuality is meant for you, too. As part of the body of Christ, we all have an important influence with children. Through mentoring youth, supporting those who are raising children, or serving our community in other ways, we too have the privilege and responsibility to live in a way that invites children to resemble us.
As always, we would love to hear from you about this issue of Mutuality! Send your comments, questions, and critiques to firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Our office is buzzing about the incredible ways God moved through our July conference in Kenya! Be sure to read some of the highlights on p. 18.