1.Parenting is hard.
It just is. It’s supposed to be. It has the potential to be one of the most gutwrenching and refining processes of a person’s life. As in refining by FIRE. It’s the gospel, actually. You burn up on this altar as a living sacrifice to God and die to yourself so others live. EVERY. DAY.
That’s the painful truth. Parenting burns you up but WE WILL NOT burn out. As often as we die to self, we are resurrected in the life of Christ to pour out again. This death to self is actually an invitation to flow with the Living Water of the Spirit of God (John 7:38-39).
And one day, if we follow Jesus and are led by His Spirit, our children WILL look back and see ways that you, my tired fiend, yes, even YOU, with all your mess, were used by the Holy Spirit to model God’s love to them.
You are making a HUGE IMPACT in your children and in the WORLD just by hugging those babies (of all ages) and telling them you love them.
On the hardest days, I have to ask the Holy Spirit to re-frame my perceptions a LOT. Because I am dry, disappointed, and frustrated and sometimes a little sad. Here’s the promise you can hold onto:
Children ARE a HERITAGE from the Lord…a REWARD from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warior are children…BLESSED is the person whose quiver is full of them! Psalm 127:3-5a
I may not feel like the archer, but our true identity as parents are to be warriors and our children will be mighty weapons for the Kingdom of God and against the enemy of our souls. Most times I feel those arrows sharply and they are not a comfort to me consistenly right now. We can say that and that’s ok. We can acknowledge the pain and the promise of parenting all at the same time.
HERITAGE. REWARD. BLESSING. That’s their destiny and ours.
2. Your family is not going to be like anyone else’s family.
Relax. Your little clan are your own hodgepodge of habits, preferences, traits, giftings, DNA, and quirks. Sometimes these will clash. Can we perceive the clashing of these as necessary for the creation of our world together?
You are going to be BEAUTIFUL in the end if you trust God with your family and ask Him to lead you through each day with your spouse and kiddos. He is redeeming EVERYTHING and making all things work together for good for those of us who are loving God and being invited into His purposes (Romans 8:28).
3. We have to choose to trust God with our kids.
Trusting God with our kids is SO FREAKING HARD to do because somewhere in our little minds we think we love our kids more than God does. (We don’t think about it that way but we do act from that assumption a lot). And that’s because we think it is our job to protect our kids.
It’s not our job. It’s God’s. Actually. Really.
We are only protective agents in our kids’ lives as extensions of God’s covering over them. But when our kids do get hurt, that does not mean we have failed. And it certainly does not mean that God has failed.
We think the best thing for our kids is to not get hurt, not get disappointed, not fail. But here’s the truth… every time they hurt, fail, fall is an opportunity for them to learn and to lead them back to Jesus. God is in the business of redeeming EVERYTHING. Let God have your kids so they will have a story of His faithfulness as He walks them through hard things! It’s ok. You can relax about that too! He’s got them. Pray for them and leave them entrusted to God.
4. You are not perfect and neither are your kids. It’s fine
(aka. Your kid’s scream can light up aisle 7 in Target and the world will not end, even if people say rude things…cause, bless their hearts, they are not perfect either–and they need grace too)
Only God is perfect. Are you Him? No? Really?
God is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT love….AND…
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” John 4:18
You do NOT have to live with fear of failure and fear of other’s perceptions and/or misperceptions of you and your family. I will share a quote that has claimed authorship from several people, so I have no idea who wrote it first, but it’s so true:
“What other people think about you is none of your business.”
Let God tell you who you are by His Word and His Spirit. Let Him correct you and teach you how to correct your children. You cannot serve both God and man. And Paul for the win on this one:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
5. You are CHOSEN to parent these kids. No one can do it like you! Stay soft!
Stop saying you are a bad parent. It’s not true! You are CHOSEN of God to be a shepherd of this little heart! But you actually shepherd under the authority of Jesus. There is no pressure. As a shepherd under Him, we LOVE the sheep under our care! We see when our sheep are hurt, lost, or sick and take them to the Great Shepherd. Our love leads them to His love. He heals. He redeems, He comforts. And all we have to do is keep bringing them back to Jesus, and they will learn to let Him shepherd them.
It’s does NOT have to be complicated.
“Go in the strength you have…” Judges 6:8
When we know how to bring them to Jesus, we know everything we need. We can actually build our whole approach to parenting on utter reliance on God and we don’t have to be super strong. In fact weakness allows God to show HIS strength, which brings us deeper into trust! (2 Cor. 12:9, Eph. 3:16, 1 Tim. 1:12)
Two simple questions (this is honestly the totality of my current parenting philosophy):
1) Do your children feel loved and cared for?
2) Can they trust you?
These two things are really important. Everything else hinges on these.
If you aren’t sure. Ask them. But you are probably winning on these things more than you know. And if you are not, winning on these things is probably just an honest conversation away.
YOU CAN LOVE YOUR KIDS THE WAY THEY NEED AS MUCH AS THEY NEED.
You ARE enough, because Jesus has promised to give you EVERYTHING YOU NEED for life through His power.
My prayer for my children is for God to keep their hearts soft toward us and toward Him. Loved children can choose to obey out of love and trust, which models how they are to love God and obey Him (John 14:15). Obedience will become the habit as their hearts stay soft. That means I have to maintain their trust. This is actually more important than how they behave (even in public)
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
I’ve realized lately that it’s VITALLY important that my kids hearts stay soft toward me.
Soft hearts can receive both DISCIPLINE and LOVE. Hard hearts can receive neither.
So instead of always assessing their behavior (which I used to do a lot), I am asking God to let me see their heart (Hint: you can see it through their eyes, and you hear it in their tone of voice). So stay soft toward your children and ask them boldly to stay soft toward you. This is a long game! Hang in there WARRIOR SHEPHERDS! Those arrows are gonna fly one day!