For the past 3 months, I’ve been getting a first hand crash course in fatherhood. I have learned a lot of things. I am learning a lot of things. I will learn a lot more things. (I think I covered all my bases there…) My daughter’s name is “Cecilia Jane” and together those two names mean “Blinded by God’s Grace.” When I gave her this name, I never realized how true that phrase would ring for me. There are countless things that God has revealed to me about Himself through parenting that I only knew in theory prior to having a child. Over the next couple weeks I want to talk about two specifically. They are: 1) Accommodation. 2) Hate.
I’ll deal with #1 this week and tackle #2 next week.
Prior to becoming a father, I knew in a very ethereal and obscure sense that when you love something or someone, you accommodate. Love finds what another needs (not necessarily what they want) and aims for it. Love goes out of the way to make sure the other gets that thing so they can feel truly loved. I knew all this…in theory. I knew that loving parents accommodate for their children. I knew that loving fathers adjust and modify their tone of voice so their 2-year-old daughter or 5-year-old son won’t misunderstand.
Over my first 3 months of fatherhood, as I suspected, the biggest obstacle in my relationship with my daughter is communication. I have to constantly remind her that screaming is not an appropriate way to get what she wants…to no avail. I’ve even tried sitting down and reasoning with her. She has trouble focusing. But over time I’ve figured out what she does understand. Smiles. Closeness. Kisses. The sound of my voice when I’m singing to her (even when the song is, “Cecilia Jane it’s time for you to be quiet now. Please, please be quiet now. I want you to stop crying.”) I’ve realized that for my daughter to understand me, I have to make some accommodations and speak to her in a way she’s going to understand.
The great theologian of the Reformation, John Calvin, took this idea of love’s accommodation and said it’s exactly what God does for us. Divine accommodation. For lack of better phraseology, Calvin suggests (I believe rightly) that God, when speaking to us, speaks in “baby-talk.” God lovingly dresses the vast complexities of his nature to us in realities we can experience. Divine accommodation. The grace, mercy, and love of God is on perfect display in his accommodating, adjusting, and condescending to human intellectual capacities by speaking and acting in a way that we can understand. When we are in weakness, confusion, doubt, and fear, God compassionately accommodates and meets us where we are to communicate the good news that we are loved, that we are not alone, and that our doubts don’t worry him. What better example than the incarnation?
Without the supreme act of accommodation that is the incarnation of Christ, God would have remained hidden from humanity. The incarnation of the unalterable, ever existing, all knowing God is the greatest humiliation he could have suffered. It is the greatest compliance imaginable and it was done because love accommodates. God’s act of bending down far beneath his superiority in order to reveal Himself to His people, to teach them, and to save them, all in a manner in which they can begin to understand is the ultimate act of accommodation.
How patient and kind and good God is for choosing to speak to us and not only to speak to us, but to do so in a way we can understand.
Shouldn’t this reality fundamentally change the way I speak to my children? My wife? My friends? Those who don’t yet know Christ? Those who are experiencing doubt?
May I submit that in divinely accommodating, God has fulfilled the Golden Rule? If that’s the case, could we then alter the commandment given?