I don’t even know where to begin. Blogging is a cathartic exercise for me–there’s so much to process.
A few things that have been rolling around in my head:
Parenting is tough. With every month, it toughens you to do more and withstand more than you ever thought possible.
Each new phase or child is completely overwhelming, but you grow into it only to be challenged again at the next transition. We all think that someone else is doing it better, and in some regards, they are. However, nothing is as it seems. Nobody has it all together or feels completely confident on this journey. Each of us is being stretched beyond what we can handle because 1) only then do we see our need for God’s help and 2) only then do we grow and mature.
I have expressed lately that I feel like a competent person. I feel like God has gifted me and I have grown in my gifts and skills in life to perform in many different areas. HOWEVER, one area that I feel completely in need and incompetent is parenting. If I used a grade card to grade my life and skills, I get a low grade (compared to my expectations) in this parenting journey. Am I keeping my children alive and giving them a warm environment to grow in? YES. Am I attempting to feed them, love them, clothe them, bathe them, provide opportunities for them? YES. Am I disappointed in how much I let them watch TV? YES. Do I wish my almost 4 year old would be responsive to me trying to teach him about Jesus and God? YES–it is an utter failure every time!
I see I can be doing so much more in every way. I see what happens when these years are not seized. I see that literally feel like I cannot lift my head off the pillow at times to do more. So, what do we do with these feelings? Am I the only one having them? (In our minds we feel like we are:).
Here’s a couple of thoughts to help us take our thoughts captive:
1) Social Media is not your friend in this journey of taking your thoughts captive. EVERYDAY I am lambasted with perfectly cute posts on how another child is spanking my children in the developmental race. Sometimes sheer panic goes through my heart, and I think “How have I missed the boat that my child cannot say his colors in Russian by 18 months old?” (ridiculousness implied–it’s actually much more down to earth comparisons).
We do not see the whole picture. My friend, KellyAnn always reminds me that “this is not your journey.” Every child is different–the script we have is not the same as our neighbors. (This includes our marriages, our giftings, our careers, our personalities, etc) We have to stop, walk away, and refuse our thoughts to be hijacked by comparison. Does that mean we take a break from social media? Possibly. Does that mean we post differently so that we do not perpetuate this trap? possibly–but keeping in mind even the mildest of things can set anyone of us off because it is not the words but the heart that reads them.
Part of the reason I started #getrealwednesdays is because of this very phenomenon. It is not easy to air your faults to the world, but it does help to normalize them. I cannot tell you how many people who have told me that they appreciate it. What’s funny is that I cannot even do it perfectly—I have been posting when I remember, which is usually not Wednesdays.
Which leads me to
2) Take time to laugh–at yourself. We need to own who we are–the faults, the propensities of our personalities. I used to get so bent out of shape when someone pointed out my messiness. I lashed back and tried to excuse it…I wanted to give up…I felt like a failure.
I work hard to try to be neat, but my neat is another’s messy. I can get under the skin of a type A personality faster than you can say OCD. I finally had to call a spade a spade and laugh at myself and help others laugh with me. I am not ever going to be the one who has programs planned for my children with crafts and structured play dates and (I don’t even know other examples because it is not my bent to think of them)…
Does that mean I use my personality as an excuse? NO. However, it means I need to find ways to incorporate my goals for parenting into my personality and my children’s personalities and needs. I am going to be relational, spontaneous, and I need people alongside me who are more structured and who help me with that. I need to look at the needs of my children developmentally, emotionally and spiritually and see how I can best contribute and let the rest of the fluff go.
We need to ask ourselves how our strengths can be used to bless our children (or whatever situation and people you are in or with). What gifts will I pass to others? This flips our thoughts from what is lacking to what we can positively give. I can choose to think that my playfulness can and will bless my children. I can choose to believe that my merciful heart will teach my children to think of others, etc.
which leads me to where do we go for help?
3. We must go to the One who created us, numbered our days, and formed our families…The Father. We don’t just throw up our hands and go “oh well.” We remember that Jesus says “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
We forget that there is this little (actually huge) thing in all of us called sin. We rebel–some rebel thinking that they have got this thing covered in their own righteousness, wisdom and perfection and some rebel in the traditional sense of the word flipping the bird to the rules. Our children are the same way. The ones who can talk all about the gospel of Jesus at 2 years old verses the ones who throw the Bible across the room–they both are in desperate need in their sin.
I see this week–Holy Week, and I see how I have done a horrible job planning things for my children to know about the Gospel. If it were on my own merit of teaching them and shaping their hearts, they would be in trouble. I remember the truth that it is the grace of Christ that gives us hope. We teach (however poorly or excellently), but we cannot change their hearts. See, no matter what family we grow up in, we have issues. I think the new thought is to think that we provide the perfect spiritual education for our children and that we “save” them in that way. We make a “safe” road for them. That is a lie. And what a great lie of the Enemy for us to perform and rest in that or to not perform and to panic.
This world is still stained with sin and so are our hearts. We point to Christ–however feebly–and lean on Christ for our children’s salvation. Life is messy. It is not a program where we fill out the checkmarks and relax. Everyday is an opportunity for us to see that “apart from Him we can do nothing.” Everyday we find that the only Hope and worth is in Jesus. Everyday we see our need for Him. Everyday we must remember that all our feeble attempts or deliberate non-attempts have been covered by the righteousness of Christ (his perfection in every way) when He took our place on that Good Friday over 2000 years ago. He was assaulted with the wrath of God that we deserve in order that we might know Him completely and depend on Him completely and entrust our children to Him completely. Take your thoughts captive with this thought and nothing less.