Lately I've been thinking about the impressions that I'm leaving on my children. I know heavy stuff, huh? It's very humbling to realize that I know absolutely nothing about raising children up to know and love Jesus. Every day I feel as though I'm just blindly directing them and guiding them, and praying that somehow they'll see Jesus and His love for them despite my faulty parenting. I've obviously studied the Bible on the subject of parenting and read several awesome books on the topic, and I'm extremely blessed to be surrounded by Christian families who have the same desires to raise their children up that Erik and I do, but seeing as how I've never done this before- and even if I had no two children are ever the same!- I feel indescribably inadequate to parent my children.
Sure I can justify myself saying that we do all the "Christian" things with our kids. We take them to Church, we pray before meals, say bedtime prayers, and read Bible stories. We do little catechisms here or there and are striving to train them in first time obedience, but sometimes I have to check myself. Am I doing these things because I love Jesus with such a fierce passion that my hearts desire is for my children to love Jesus with all their hearts? Or is it just my pride motivating me to strive towards these things? It's a hard question to answer, because if I'm really honest sometimes my pride is what motivates me to train my children. But worse than that would be not confronting these thoughts and letting it take root, and then when Jack and Anna (and the new baby!) grow up and start having questions of their own, or perhaps rebelling against what they've been taught, I would have to stare at the fact that I made an idol out of parenting. That none of it was genuine or pure, but instead I made it something disgusting.
I have been praying fervently, and will for as long as I'm their mom, for wisdom in training these children to love God. Obviously I believe that ultimately it's all up to God as to whether or not these children live their lives for Him or not, and I am aware that I am going to make lots of mistakes, but as Christian parents we clearly have an obligation to teach them diligently. And you know what my mind keeps coming back to? The scripture where Jesus tells the people that the glass is dirty on the inside but clean on the outside. I need to first look at my own personal relationship with God before I'm too quick to harp on my children's sin. It's not been an easy thing to realize, but really while it's good that my kids know how to pray and are familiar with Bible stories, is it going to do that much good when they're ten? If my kids are anything like I was, and most kids, they can sense a phony. I don't ever want my kids to think I'm perfect(or to think that I think I'm perfect!), and never be able to share their struggles, their hearts with me. When I think about the impression I want to leave on my children, I want them to know I love Jesus, but I also want them to realize that I'm not any better than them and I'm on the same journey they're on.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
It was one of those days. It all started out nice enough. Got up before everyone else, enjoyed some coffee with my Bible study, the kids were still asleep after my study was over so I was able to relax a little longer and check my email (of course I should have picked take a shower, but you know.) Once the kids got up it appeared that they had woke up on the wrong side of the bed, all the peace and warmth I had been feeling earlier that day went by the wayside. I was getting frustrated.
When I was getting them dressed for the day, they were wiggly and irritated that I was changing them on what was a very cold morning. My goal of always speaking in a gentle voice to my kids was quickly diminishing and I was giving into my own irritability, which in turn was making them more grouchy(hmm wonder why?) Anna had been particularly clingy and grumpy that morning, and I was rushing around like a crazy woman trying to pick up the house and get myself cleaned up since I had a doctors appointment to be at by noon. I was not in the mood to deal with an uncooperative child. However, as I was brushing my teeth that morning, I felt a familiar pull. A conviction. Why should my kids be in great, accommodating moods every day? When did having a clean house to come home to at the end of the day become more important to me than seeing to their needs? Why was I so surprised when my 2 year old threw a temper fit over his cereal, and my one year old decided she didn't feel like taking her morning nap? They're toddlers, and God has placed me as their mother to love, guide, and yes discipline and train them. But I also know that God has given me these kids to conform me to be more like Jesus, and I am very aware of my need for Grace every day as I try to figure this mothering thing out.
As I was standing in the bathroom, I felt like God was telling me that I could either choose to act just like they were, or I could stop what I was doing pick up Anna and sit beside Jack while he played. Thankfully, God gave me the grace to stop. I wrapped up my little girl in her pink blanket and sat next to Jack while he served us dinner from his kitchen set. After about twenty minutes of this I remembered there was something that really did need to be done that day before I left for the doctor, I braced myself for the crying to begin again, and reminded myself that there was a right way and a wrong way for me to handle those situations. However, there was no crying. The kids were content to play for a little bit by themselves. I am positive that this won't be the last time I mess up and get my priorities mixed up. But at least I can look back on this day and be encouraged that by the grace of God I can always choose to enjoy my kids.