Repetition, rhythm, and routine - they are the theme of the return of the new year, and any year of parenting, actually. Back into setting the alarm clock, disciplining ourselves to do the things we don't always want to do, and disciplining our children to do the things they don't want to do. I'm currently reading Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World and would highly recommend it if you, like me, need a little reminder going into this year that saying "no" to them going their own way is truly a gift to them.
I just finished studying John's Gospel and his three epistles and found the repetition throughout the epistles especially to be very comforting. In the past when I've read it, I've sometimes found it annoying... but on the cusp of a new year, somehow, it has felt like a welcome relief... to settle into my identity as a "little child" and to be reminded over and over and over again of the things that are of primary importance.
Know the Truth.
John is teaching me, in the same way that I hope to be teaching my children on a daily, repetitive basis:
This is what God is (love). This is how you'll know him. This is how you know you know him. This is how to stay in God (abide). This is what it looks like if you are abiding. This is what it looks like if you're not. This is truth. This is how you know the truth. This is how you live according to the truth.
There is a comforting cadence in John's words, gently lulling me back into a deeper, more abiding relationship with the Lord. And while he does it, he also sets for me an example of how to interact with my children in a way that teaches them, gently, what it looks like to follow Jesus.
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." (I John 2:12-14)
Your sins are forgiven. You know him. You have overcome. And by abiding, you are able to continue to overcome. There is so much hope and comfort in these words!