Parenting is one of life’s most challenging callings. It is also one of life’s most fulfilling callings. I have never been so exhausted, so frustrated, or so humbled until I became a mother. I have also never felt my heart swell as much as it has the past 19 months. I have said more cuss words than I would like to admit. I have broken down in tears several times. I have also found myself belly laughing more than ever.
Have you noticed the biggest experts in parenting are people who don’t have their own kids yet? It is easy to shove out advice, theories, or strategies. Then you have your own, and wham, not so easy.
Something that has really been hitting me in the gut lately is how much my daughter mimics me. She will put her leg up in the shower to pretend to shave her leg. She will watch me wiping down a spill on the floor, go grab a towel, and copy my actions. She is watching. EVERYTHING.
I heard the gospel preached so beautifully last Sunday on the topic of parenting. There was one point that truly stuck out to me: “You are to instruct not merely insist.” Instruction takes time. It means I get down on my daughters level and show her how to do things. Even more, it means I set the example for Lillian. How many times? Over, and over again.
Do I want my daughter to be self-controlled? Am I self-controlled?
Do I want my daughter to speak highly of others? Do I speak highly of others?
Do I want my daughter to spend her money wisely? Do I spend my money wisely?
What a heart check. If I am to parent in grace and love with my daughter, I am to walk before her, showing her these things with my actions not my words.
Yet there is great comfort in this heart check. The first is that ultimately my daughter is in the hands and control of God. He has given me the beautiful job of stewarding her during this life as well as I can. My longing is to lead my daughter beside His still waters so she can know the grace of God as I have known. Yet, God alone will show up in my daughters life how He chooses.
The second, is that when I gaze upon the relationship I have with my heavenly Father, I am able to see the way in which he parents me. He is patient, kind, gentle, good. Christ set the example of ultimate parenting by laying down His life as a ransom for his beloved people. He promised that those who follow him would have “life, and life to the full.” He is the Prince of Peace, loving, and gracious. And more- accessible. Jesus tells us that we ought to come to him in everything: every worry, every doubt, every fear, every praise. Just as a father and mother long to know what is going on in their children’s life at school or in sports, my God is interesting in both the big and small parts of my life. He is interested in ALL of my life.
I write this post not to burden us mothers even more with strategies for how to control our kids or enjoy parenting more. I write this post as a reminder to myself and all other moms out there who have put their trust in God that while parenting is and always will be difficult, there are also beautiful promises. We can rest in remembering the ways in which our Father lavishes his love upon us through his grace and truth. We can find peace in knowing that while God may discipline us at times, he always does it for our good. We can remember to present our heart aches to God and that he listens, even if we don’t have the words to fully formulate our distress. And last, we can remember that by simply trusting God daily with our lives we are walking near him, and that is a blessing our children will benefit from no matter how well put together or not we are. Love, and all the benefits thereof (grace, truth, compassion, self-control, wisdom), shown in action, is what our children will see and remember. Even if we are a frazzled mess while trying to communicate our love for them.
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