Within seconds of beginning our conversation, she broke into sobs.
This sweet lady was a brokenhearted mother. Her child had made a grave error in judgment and the consequences were tough.
This child had been raised in a Christian home, spent many hours in church, VBS, and youth group. And yet…
All of this resulted in a cauldron of powerful emotions: anger, hurt, betrayal, pain, shock, grief, sadness, guilt.
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about raising kids since my son is going to graduate from high school next month and head to college in August.
Here is what I would tell women who are in those early years of childhood:
1) Deal with your stuff.
We all have regrets as parents. Nobody is perfect. We are all fallen people living in a fallen world and we will make mistakes. That being said, I so wish that I would have allowed Jesus to heal me of certain things as I embarked on the long journey of parenting. Then I would have parented from a place of wholeness on certain issues rather than out of my brokenness.
So be brave enough to take a good, hard, honest look at yourself. Pray that He would reveal any areas where you need healing…and then do whatever it takes to pursue healing and wholeness in that area. Allow the Healer to minister to the deepest places of your heart through the power of His Word.
Your children will thank you for it.
And you will know what it is like to live free. (not perfect, but free).
2) Stop being obsessed with externals. Have an eternal perspective.
Bottom line: who cares if your house is messy? Little kids live there! Little kids make messes. It is not the end of the world. Trust me…there will be plenty of time to have a clean house when they are grown and out on their own.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many sports your child plays, what school they attend, how many toys they have, how prestigious your address is, or how many awards they win.
What does matter? “And this is eternal life: to know, perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand You, the one true God and to know Jesus, the Messiah.” (John 17:3).
There you have it. Short and to the point.
This life is a vapor, a mist, that goes by in the blink of an eye. One hundred years from now, no one in your family line will even know your name or any of your accomplishments.
The ONLY thing that will matter is whether you spent your one short life getting to know the One who created you and loves you with a perfect, all-consuming love.
Life is really very simple. (Not easy, but simple).
There is a Creator. He created this world and He created you. He is holy. You are a sinner. He has made a way for you to know Him by showing up on this planet as a Man named Jesus, who lived the perfect life you could not live and died the death you deserved so that you could go free.
You miss that and you have missed everything.
3). You can’t change anybody.
The ONLY person you have any control over is you.
You can guide. You can teach. You can lead. You can discipline. You can pour your energy into being the best parent you know how to be.
But you cannot control what your child does with any of that. That will always be his or her choice.
You cannot take credit for the good that your child does and you cannot take the blame for the bad things that they do. They are their own person.
What you can do is pray your heart out on behalf of those precious ones to the One who created them and loves them even more than you do. Find scripture verses that speak to the things you most want for your child(ren) and pray God’s Word back to Him. (Example: Ephesians 1:17-20 would be an AMAZING prayer to pray over your children).
HE is the One who does the changing of hearts. Nobody else. So quit trying and just love them right where they are.
4). Celebrate! (Don’t Compare)
You know a question I have never asked anyone upon meeting them?
“How old were you when you learned to read?” Or “When were you potty trained?”
How early (or late) your child does such things do not matter in the long run!
You are God’s Plan A for your child. God did not give your child to your best friend or to your neighbor or to the Sunday School teacher at church. He gave your child to you.
Your son or daughter is unique, created in the image of the God who made them, equipped with talents and gifts that can make a difference in this world.
Celebrate that rather than wasting precious time worrying about how they measure up against other kids.
5. You cannot prevent your children from getting hurt.
If we could, we would protect our children from experiencing any pain at all.
This is impossible.
I remember Beth Moore once saying something to the effect of, “I’ve learned my lessons by taking the field trip. Don’t do that. Please just take my word for it and learn these lessons in the classroom.”
We want the same thing for our kids, but the fact is…they are going to choose to go on the field trip.
The truth is, it is during the hard times that we learn what truly matters in this life. Trials show us what we are made of and introduce us to our true selves so our misguided and flimsy illusions have a chance to shatter. This is a good thing because it reveals the lie that we can handle this life on our own and turns us toward our Savior. Only in Him can true strength, hope, and joy be found. The sooner our kids learn this, the better it will be for them.
6. Know that your God is sovereign.
Regardless of what happens, NOTHING take Him by surprise. He is in full control at all times and He is a safe and secure stronghold in the most ferocious of storms.
We live in a fallen world. Bad things will happen to us and to our children. Rather than being surprised, we should expect this. (John 16:33; James 1).
But we are never alone. He is always with us. He has equipped us with His Spirit to handle anything that comes our way.
He created your children. He loves them with an everlasting love. He will never stop pursuing them.
He knows what He is doing at all times.
So when bad times enter your child’s life, cling to His promises with all your strength. Pray your heart out. Cry when you need to. Seek wise counsel. Love them with all you’ve got. Point out that with Jesus, there is ALWAYS hope. Remind them that they are deeply and eternally loved: not because of what they have or haven’t done, but simply because a great God has chosen to set His affections on them and love them.
Choose to trust Him with what you cannot understand. As Ann Voskamp says, “He is always good and you are always loved.”
Then watch Him work. Only He can bring beauty from the ashes and give joy after mourning.
7. Motherhood is messy.
Forget all those perfect Hallmark commercials.
Do not be intimidated by the glossy, beautiful Facebook posts of impeccably dressed children smiling adoringly at their flawlessly coiffed mother.
Do not wonder what is wrong with you if you are not filled with happiness every waking moment of your parenting career.
The truth is there will be hard days. Feelings will be hurt. Birthdays or Mother’s Day may be forgotten. You will be exhausted at times. There may even be moments when you do not even like your children.
This is all normal.
It has been said that parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
So, take a deep breath. Open your arms and your heart wide. Look for joy, even (especially) in the unexpected places. Slow down. Pray hard. Love deeply. Do what you can. Know that you cannot do it all.
Above everything else, rest in Jesus.
The world is on His shoulders, not yours.
He is responsible for how all of this turns out, not you.
He is God, you are frail flesh.
He is strong, you are weak.
He is perfect; you are flawed.
But you are deeply and wildly loved by Him.
He has called and appointed you to be a mother. It may be the hardest role you are given in this life. Like nothing else, it will cause you to come to the end of yourself at times. Yet it is in those very moments that you come to the beginning of Him. It is then that His hope and joy and peace reign.
You can trust Him to use all of the bad days, missed opportunities, regrets, and mistakes to create a masterpiece. How do I know? Because making masterpieces are His specialty (Ephesians 2:10) and He has promised to make all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
The only moment you can live is right now.
So fully live it.
“My home is filled with toys, has fingerprints on everything, and is never quiet. My hair is usually a mess and I’m always tired, but there is always LOVE and LAUGHTER. In twenty years, my children won’t remember the house or my hair but they will REMEMBER the time we spent together and the LOVE they felt.”—Unknown