Relationship before Rules

Part of the adoption process is going through a lot of training.  A lot.

Which is good, because this will be a big change for our family!  A BIG one!

One of the training modules spoke about something that has really stuck with me, maybe because it can relate to so many different areas of life, not just the adoptive family.

A counselor was speaking about discipline. She said that she was talking to a person she was counseling about the new child in their home.  The family was wondering (as I’m sure we will as well!),

at what point can we expect our child to be able to follow our family rules?

This is not a mean question, or one that implies they are overly rule-oriented.  Rules and structure ARE important in a family!  I think it was actually a rather normal question, but not one with a normal answer.

The counselor told them

Relationship before Rules

Meaning:  don’t worry so much about the rules.  These kids have all been through a lot, regardless of how “good” their experiences had been up to that point.  They need to know that their relationship with their new parents is there and real and permanent BEFORE they can follow rules properly.  Family rules shouldn’t be there because you want order.  They should be there because you LOVE your children and want the best for them.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We don’t allow our young children to stay up too late on school nights.  Not to be mean, but because we love them and we want them to be well-rested for school the next morning.

We ask our young children to put their plates in the sink when they are finished eating.  Not because they need to, or because we don’t want to, but because we love them.  They are learning responsibility, and how to be an integral part of our family in that way.

Kids from orphanages, kids from foster care… they don’t know this stuff.  They’ve maybe never had that stability that comes from being in a family that loves them.  Rules right off the bat indicate a tolerance for them… not love.

Relationship indicates love.  It shows that our focus is on the child.  It shows that we want them there, no matter what; even if they are not a “productive” member of the family.  Their productivity comes from being there, and that alone.

I think maybe I love this so much because it is Jesus.

He is Relationship before Rules.

He wants us, and he wants to be with us regardless of our past, regardless of how well we “do” Christianity.

He want to love us. He wants to nurture us. He wants to create us into people that can recognize his love, feel comfortable in it, and then our natural reaction will be to walk as a loved part of his family (the Church).

I so very often put rules before relationship.  They are rules I place on myself (like the infamous, inflexible to-do list), they are not Jesus.

Jesus is the one that tells the little children to come to him.  He is not concerned with appearances, he is not concerned with the agenda or the schedule (the rules).  He loves.  He pours out attention and grace.

In Jesus is grace. In Jesus is love. In Jesus is relationship.

Any adoptive families out there have input?  Experiences?  Hardships?  Encouragement?

I’d love to hear it.

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