Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. – 1 Corinthians 3:7 (NRSV)
Real talk: Paul could have written this directly to parents. This feels especially true for those of us who are unpartnered or solo parents, leaning heavily into many communities—family, school, church, etc.—that help co-parent our children into adulthood.
Paul gives us a wonderful explanation for our successes as parents, which is God’s growth-giving. He was writing to a people who were struggling with division, loyalties, and figuring out the right thing to do in complex situations. Sound familiar, much? If that doesn’t capture the essence of parenting, there isn’t much that does. If that doesn’t capture the essence of discipleship, there isn’t much that does. Whether there are divisions between the children we raise or shifting loyalties among the adults with whom we gather, every day is a navigation of any variety of complex situations, from the silly to the serious.
In my own experience of good parenting intentions gone bad, accidental miracles, failed plans, and bubble-gummed solutions, my daughter is somehow alive (and thriving!). When we cultivate our relationships with God as our Co-Parent, our efforts are transformed and multiplied into growth. The very cells that make up that growth are in God’s domain.
That simple fact brings a tremendous amount of grace, hope, and possibility. Even as we do our best to nurture the ones in our circle of care, ultimately God attends to their growth.
For all the ways in which you provide growth in our children and even in our capacity to plant and water with love, we give you thanks, gracious God!