I was driving my sophomore in high school son to early bird Wellness 2 this morning and was going about 15 miles per hour in the 25 mile per hour zone of our street. We passed a man walking along the street — we have no sidewalks in our neighborhood — and I waved at the man. I felt good that I didn’t have to slow down, as it was the perfect speed in which to pass him by; and this was going 10 miles per hour below the speed limit of 25, which is the general traffic law speed for most residential streets in our area.

But, 25 miles per hour is just too fast on our street.

Sometimes my son tells me I am going too slowly in our neighborhood or other areas in which we are driving, but I say to him that it just feels like the right speed given the circumstances — weather, pedestrians, for starters. On our street, I will go up to 20 miles per hour, but that truly feels like the fastest speed one should go.

When driving, you have to take into account the curves and the weather and potential pedestrians and little kids darting out into the streets, I tell my son who is 15 and soaking up driving lessons as he is 6 months away from turning 16 and able to drive on his own.

I was talking to a friend about fast drivers on her street and she said to me, “You know who drives much too quickly in our neighborhood? The bus driver!”

“Yep, she said, you would never think the one who is transporting all of those little children would drive so fast,” she said. My friend even asked the bus driver one day about it and the bus driver said smiling, “I drive the speed limit. It’s 25.” And my friend said to him, “But there were pedestrians right by you,” and the bus driver just quote the traffic law again.

And, I thought, sometimes the speed limit is not the right speed; one must slow down and adjust according to the situation, like if there are pedestrians — and the potential of having children dart out into the streets —  and not just quote the traffic laws.

I have thought of this truth regarding parenting: you have general guidelines you follow and yet you have to adjust accordingly.

People want a one size fits all parenting manual that will tell them what to do and how to do it, a sort of if-then guarantee, but 28 years and five kids later, I can assure you it doesn’t work that way. You have to adjust accordingly. Each child is different and we need to parent to the soul, to the spirit, to the little heart of our each of our children.

One example I like to share is the difference in personality between our first two children, 18 months apart.

Rachel, our oldest child and only girl, was quite the sensitive soul when it came to her spirit. When she did something wrong, we would only have to mention it to her and she would burst into tears in sorrow and remorse. We knew she was repentant for what she did wrong. But along came Ryan, 18 months younger, our first son of our four sons, and he was quite the wild one when he was younger. He needed a firmer hand when it came to discipline. Our goal was focusing on the little hearts of our children, 

Now, some may quote the Bible where it says, “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” and yet, they would be missing the heartbeat of parenting each child individually. Working on little souls, allowing God to mold and shape and move the little hearts of our children. It’s all about the Holy Spirit being allowed to work in our kids. We can hold on so tightly and quote one verse over and over again to justify what we are doing, that we can forget the spirit of the law.

It’s human nature to worry and to want to control. I think of the people in Bible times that grew up around Jesus. They wanted someone — Jesus preferably — to tell them what to do and how to live, and there is good in that of course. But, some took it too far and missed the spirit of the passage. Take the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus by the Pharisees as recorded in John chapter eight. The Pharisees quoted Moses from the Old Testament that says to stone a woman who is caught in adultery.

But Jesus in this particular situation says to them: “Whoever is without sin among you, cast the first stone at her.”

All of the people walked away as they must have realized they were not without sin. Such a beautiful passage there as Jesus says to the woman that he doesn’t condemn her either and as He encourages her to walk rightly from then on.

Wow. Jesus took their rulebook, their “drive 25 miles an hour in neighborhoods” rule and tossed it right back at them.

Now, I know this is a very simplified example of a much larger spiritual issue with the word of God, just as there are traffic laws we need to obey, especially not going over the speed limit — going under the limit is another thing! — but I am just looking at the principal of the matter.

I think it is just a great reminder to live our lives by the Spirit, and take individual circumstances into consideration. Trust, let go, know our child, love our people, show grace.

And, maybe drive more slowly in our neighborhoods!

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