Every few weeks or so, I start to panic over one/several/all of our children.
God, we are doomed.
Show me there is hope for my child.
I’m going to fail at parenting. What were we thinking?!
I held a small baby the other day, felt her little body go limp from sleep, her little bum perfectly in my hand. My feet automatically started to rock back and forth and I remembered so clearly when that stance defined my life. Holding, rocking, nursing, holding, rocking, nursing, over and over and over again.
I thought it would never end.
Until, suddenly, it did.
My days look different than they used to. I sleep through the night. I even get to sit down and eat an entire meal. I no longer have to order my day around naps and three hour increments.
The job isn’t as physically demanding anymore.
But what I’ve realized is that the physically demanding was just preparing me for the next stage: the mentally demanding years we are just entering. The stakes are so high on this one.
Parents of teenagers want to roll their eyes at me right now because I sound so naive. Oh, I may not see the whole picture, but I can see it peeking over the horizon.
Before there were kids, Peter and I had a black lab puppy. We named her Sawyer Dani and she was our “kid experiment”. We figured if we did a great job at raising and disciplining a puppy, we had a decent shot at good parenting.
We walked her. We sweet talked her and bought her organic treats. We loved her hard. But she would not walk with us. She would pull and run and generally freak out. She didn’t bark a lot, she was kind to kids, and she didn’t really chew. But our daily walks were embarrassing because we looked like those idiots who let their dog walk them, instead of walking the dog.
So we enrolled her in obedience classes. We bought a fancy leather leash (they told us it worked better but it was also really expensive… my hunch is that they saw us coming and knew how desperate we were). We went faithfully for a few months, but it was hopeless. Eventually Sawyer dropped out. Ahem. I guess I should say eventually WE dropped out.
Things were not looking good for our parenting experiment.
Thankfully, we didn’t let our failures as a dog owner keep us from having children. I’d like to think we’ve learned a thing or two since then.
There’s a couple in the Bible who couldn’t have children. His name was Manoah, but his wife isn’t even named. It simply says she was sterile and they remained childless. You would think that because she doesn’t have a name in Scripture she wasn’t really anything special, but when their story is told in the book of Judges, it specifically says there was an angel of the Lord who appeared to only her and gave her the promise that she would have a son. He gave her a few instructions and then disappeared. When she relays the visit to her husband, Manoah, he replies by praying.
O Lord, I beg you, let the Man of God you sent to us come again
to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born (Judges 13:9)
And I just want to laugh because I totally get that. How much would I love a Man of God to just take up residence in my basement and give me all the answers on how to raise my kids?! Someone who would take the guesswork out of all our decisions and late night praying and thoughts that we are completely ruining our kids’ lives… sign. me. up.
I saw this little chart floating around the internet and it is so us right now. We are having a lot of big talks at our house lately, about lots of deep theological things, about our bodies and sexuality, about being a good friend and standing up for what is right. It’s overwhelming to me, but it’s also so beautiful.
When I falter, when I second guess, I do my best to remember that my kids are made in the image of God. They have a divine capacity to believe, to love, to imagine. And guess what? I am made in the image of God, too. So are you. So it only makes sense that as we seek God with all our hearts, He will lead us in how we raise our children.
That baby that was born in Judges? His name was Samson. He did great things for God… and he also messed up a few times, too. Our kids will be the same. We totally will, too. Through it all, we must remember that our kids are made in the image of God and they are deeply loved by Him. If the core of our parenting comes from that deep truth, we are giving our children a tremendous gift.
These years are just a phase… and we can’t afford to miss it. Today, wherever you are in your parenting journey, may you be confident that the same God who created you in His image is also working in the hearts of your children. You may not have a Man of God living in your basement, but you have the Holy Spirit who promises to guide you and lead you.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:11)