Welcome to Day 11 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers.
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom. Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him. Sit with God in this moment. Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.
Today’s Parenting Pointer
Not Another Project
No one could possibly have prepared you for what you would feel when you became a mother and this little tiny child completely took your breath away. Each child expands your capacity to love even more. It is nearly overwhelming to think how much love we can feel.
As my children grew I was in awe of them and of God’s gift to me – the gift of motherhood. Simultaneously I felt other feelings. I felt inadequate. I felt fearful. It wasn’t the kind of fear you feel when you had to walk home from your friend’s home in 10th grade after watching a scary movie and you were just sure someone was following you. This parental fear is much less poignant, but way more gripping. Having had a rough adolescence and having made many poor choices which ended in situations I would regret for years to come, I feared that my precious little son would end up in circumstances like I did. I wanted to do everything in my power to keep him from falling into a lifestyle full of sin and regrets.
My father died when I was 12 and my mother was never satisfied with me. She had love for me, but she was also perpetually critical of me. To use her words, “We were always at loggerheads.” That’s old-fashioned New York talk for “we fought a lot.” Coming out of this contentious upbringing I feared my sons would hate me when they got older – that fear was too much to even speak out loud let alone to bear. One day I shared the fear with my mentor and the tears came rushing out in sobs. It was as though the fear were already cast in stone and there was nothing I could do to prevent this awful fate.
These fears caused me to overprotect my first-born and to make him into a little project. Now I didn’t go around thinking this was how I was parenting, but I was. Everything I did, from “introducing him to Jesus” to teaching him how to act and what to do and not to do was undergirded with these unspoken fears. I was going to make my son into a person who would stay “good” and avoid the pitfalls I had lived through and most of all I would ensure that he would never reject me as his mother.
Thankfully I continued to work through the fears in mentoring sessions and through journaling and prayer. God revealed my heart to me and gave me another way.
One day, when my son was only six we were driving home from errands and he said, “Mom, it would be cool to get tattoos and dress like a gang member because then you could reach gang members for Jesus.” (He knew a bit about this world as he had come with me to inner city Bible Clubs since before he could walk). I just got this chill up my spine as he spoke about being near gangs and getting tattoos. These weren’t part of what I had planned for him (my little project) and yet there was the last part of his sentence that gripped me more fully – “for Jesus.” For Jesus.
He wanted to live for Jesus!
I told him, “You know, I’m sometimes concerned about choices you could make and who you want to be around because I want you to have a good life.” You know what he answered? “Mom, you know I’m always going to make good choices. I’m a good boy.” Now, he knew he was a sinner – to the best of a precocious six-year-old’s ability to grasp the reality of that fact – but beyond that, he knew he was going to walk a straight line. It never occurred to him to go any other way than to walk with Jesus.
We have to be so careful that we know what is driving us as parents. Our surface motives (the ones we are proud to share) are so pure. Sometimes, though, there are lurking fears which can influence how we parent. God says,
“There is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear.”
He has cast those fears out of me and I have experienced parental freedom and have been able to loosen the reins on my sons as a result. I can let them be who God intended them to be rather than needing to direct the outcome of their lives so tightly. Because I have come to trust God’s plan for them and I have witnessed His love and goodness unfolding in their lives, I can be at peace.
Let’s not make our children into projects – insisting that they reflect us, represent us or walk in our ways. Let’s seek God, search our hearts for hidden fears and allow God to direct their paths while we get the privilege of a front row seat to what He will do in and through them.
Surely Goodness Will Follow Us
The other day I was talking to a sweet friend about a very amazing opportunity which seems to be becoming a reality in my life. I have shared the details only with my family and a very few close friends. I have kept it quiet for two reasons. First of all the gift of this opportunity seems so sacred and special that I want to treasure it in the privacy of my own heart and my intimate friendships. But there is another reason. I also feel like I don’t want to share this opportunity and have it not come to pass and then have to face a bunch of people with my disappointment.
When I told my friend that second reason, she said, “There is really something much bigger, isn’t there? I mean, this is about trusting God and trusting that surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow you all the days of your life.” Do you have a friend like this – one who will speak truth into your life and shed light on things you just can’t see? I hope you do. I didn’t always have such friends and I treasure her and my other truth-speaking-in-love friendships. When she said this comment, I paused. She was right. I doubted God was going to lavish this huge of a gift on me. I mean this is like having my life’s dream come true –and would he really do that? for me?
I told my friend how I had felt like the rug was always just about to be yanked out when good things were coming so I taught myself not to hope for the best. I told myself this was just being realistic and keeping myself from getting unnecessarily hurt, but really, I am keeping myself from the joy of anticipation and the peace of fully trusting the personal goodness of God towards me. We all can give a head nod to the idea that God is good –but do we believe in our bones that He is specifically good towards us?
Can we sit with our hands open like the beggars at the old city walls and know that we will not leave empty-handed? Can we bring our deepest cares and hurts – and even more so our highest dreams right to God in prayer?
He says, “Even you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, How much more will I give when you ask?” He is the origin of all good things. He is so filled with love and He longs to bless. The Bible is riddled with verses which testify to God’s blessings and His plan to continue to bless – unconditionally based on His goodness, not our capacity to earn or deserve.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness
will follow me all the days of my life.
Can you take time today to ask yourself if you own that truth right down to your bones? If you don’t, pray to God to help you grow in faith and trust until you can know without doubt that He is for you and He longs to bless you in the deepest of ways. And dare to dream big and hope with faith …
I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery. If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here. Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher. And, as always, I do love hearing from you. Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you.
Tatoo image from findyourtattoodesign.net; rug image courtesy of pinterest.com; beggar image from wiki commons