Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lessons from the Fifth Year

If you have not followed this series of reflections on parenting through my first 5 years you may want to start by reading this post . There are also my post on the first year , second year, third year and fourth year if you are interested.
This was a HUGE turning point in my parenting journey. Up till now, I have read tons of books and spent many sleepless nights wondering how to do it better. Little by little God began to show me some key things in my thinking that all come together last summer in a conversation with a very dear friend/mentor who interestingly doesn't have any children (except the countless women that call her their spiritual mother - me included!!!) Below is what I learned this year:

When faced with an opportunity to practice a virtue, he (Brother Lawerence) prayed, “Lord I cannot do this unless Thou enablest me.”
And when he failed, he was quick to acknowledge, “I shall never do otherwise if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amist.”
After doing that, Brother Lawrence “gave himself no further uneasiness about it.”

I read this quote in the book "Having a Mary Spirit" and it absolutely nailed me to the wall. Even as I read it again today I feel this inward tug in opposite directions. How could he be so confident in his standing before God to give himself no further uneasiness about his falling? On one hand there is complete freedom in this idea - that apart from God we do no good things. I believe it 100% and give God the glory for all that I am and all that my kids are that is good. On the other hand, however, I can't help but think about all the Scriptures that tell me to train up a child, that no discipline is pleasant at the time but produces a harvest of peace for those who are trained by it, that folly is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod of discipline drives it away, fathers teach your children when you sit and lie down, when you walk along the get the picture. We have a responsibility before God to teach and train our children in the way of the Lord. We can not let them go to themselves. So for such a long time I battled this inward struggle (if I am truly honest the battle is still ongoing) of I am not doing enough, I am not being consistent enough, if I slip up the they fail. Last summer a very dear mentor listened as I poured my heart out to her about these very struggles. The boys are good sometimes and terror others. If I could just do this or that better. She stopped me in mid sentence and said "Amy it seems to me that you need to remember that Jesus said "come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." As we talked more she challenged me that I was caring a yoke that was not mine to carry - the burden of making my children holy. I know it sounds prideful but I did not trust God to make my children holy and I felt that if I didn't do enough then they would not love Jesus. So as I continue for months wrestling through this hard pill I had just swallowed, through time in the word and time with godly women I found a balance. I am to pursue holiness both in my own life and in the lives of my children (by teaching them the Word of God and how to apply it to their lives) 100% simply because God tells me to. I do this knowing that God brings holiness to fruition 100%. There is no 50/50. And yes, God can make my children holy without my help (I am living proof of that), but if I don't choose to simply obey Him and pursue holiness then I miss out on the joy of laboring alongside the creator of the world who does not need me, yet chooses to use me in my childrens life. So now when the kids are struggling in a particular area I don't just write it off with an "oh God will make them holy." Instead, I do spend extra time on this area - teaching and training and disciplining but I try hard to spend more time in prayer regarding this area because I know that God is going to make it "click". And when I find myself getting anxious about a struggle in their life or mine I know that I need to come to Jesus because I am weary and burdened and I need to give him my yoke because it is not mine to carry.

“You see, it’s not our job to accomplish God’s will. That responsibility belongs to Him alone. Our job is simply to say yes to whatever specific tasks he puts before us. Then to follow through, one request at a time, with our lives as well as with our mouths: ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Obeying then simply believing that God will do what He says He will do. Even when it doesn’t make sense.” ~Joanna Weaver (Having a Mary Spirit)

1 comment:

Momof3 said...

Why doesn't someone write a parenting book that tells you this from the beginning? I, too learned this near the 5th year and it is so freeing! I still read parenting books, but with different eyes. What a relief to know that I am just a small part of the picture, that God is still in control no matter how great a mom I am or what a lousy mom I am!