It’s amazing; I have heard it said that the best parents are the ones without children. We are all going to be better parents than our parents were. We can see all the mistakes that everyone else is making and think that we will do better.
Then the children come and it’s a little harder than you thought it would be, but still manageable. I had so many ideas and so many expectations as to how I thought things would go. It didn’t take long before these little beings that God entrusted to me started to dismantle my ideas and expectations. Although things didn’t go exactly how I thought they would or even should, I still thought it’s okay I still got this thing; there were challenges and complications, but nothing I thought was too big for me to handle.
I thought I had things figured out pretty well when there was only one child; the ratio was 1:1, so the odds were even. I expected perfection from her and most of the time she delivered. I needed for her to make me look like a good mom and validate me. That lead to a hot mess which will have to be discussed at a later date. I, seriously, thought I was a better parent than almost everyone else I knew.
As I added children with different personalities and tendencies, and as they all got older, I started to see things were not as simple or easy as I first thought they might be. What worked with child one, did not work with child two and in turn really devastated child three.
The problems got far more complicated as the children got older. The dangers were much more serious and much less under my control.
The next phase of parenting for me was the realization that I had no idea how to do this parenting thing. I could see the damage I had done already, as well as being acutely aware that I didn’t know now to fix it or do any better. I started to see how terrifying the parenting thing really was. Fear and regret became my daily companions. I tried harder; I read more books; I prayed a lot.
Parenting was exhausting. I felt so burdened and hopeless so much of the time. I felt so much pressure. I was responsible for these kids. Someday I would answer for how I raised them. I was failing! I was failing! I wanted to be a good parent, but I just couldn’t find the answer to be that kind of parent. Parenting was so hard.
Then God showed me it didn’t have to be so hard. I was trying to do it on my own. I was carrying the children around on my back instead of placing them in His hands. He showed me I had ABSOLUTELY no control and it was so freeing. I had no control, but He was completely in control. I didn’t have to be good enough. He knew who I was when He gave these children to me. I knew I would never be good enough. If I could do it good enough then I wouldn’t need Him. These children, by His grace, drive me to Him. I desperately need His grace because I am a broken, sinful person. He knew all the struggles and mistakes I would make before I ever made them, before I ever breathed my first breath.
I found so much freedom and hope in knowing that He never expected me to be a perfect parent. I have never disappointed Him as a parent. For Him to be disappointed implies that He didn’t know ahead of time. As a matter of fact, the pain I have inflicted on my children, the mistakes I have made, the ways I have disappointed and failed them are written into the part of His story He is writing through their lives. He ordered my days and their days to bring about that which He has intended for them which is good and gracious and beautiful. My favorite Psalm and sure and steadfast anchor to me soul is Psalm 139. I particularly love
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Oh the comfort to know He knows, He always knew. He saw the pain and exactly how He would redeem it and make it beautiful before the earth ever existed. Where He sits upon the throne it is finished; all has been redeemed and restored and made complete in Him.
He sent them to me at precisely the times He intended for them to come to me knowing where I would be in life, growth, and struggle. If I wouldn’t change a thing about my life, in spite of the pain, who I am I to want to change their lives. And I don’t want to change it when I am looking with the eyes of faith. There is a beautiful story here; it is a story that I am not the author of. It is a story that is being told by the Master Story Teller. No matter what my physical eyes see, I can choose to see with the eyes of faith that say, “It isn’t over til it’s over. He is still writing.”
Once I learned that I had no control and that my hope was in God alone and not my ability to parent, it wasn’t so hard anymore.
I Peter 1:21
who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Once I learned to surrender them to Him and leave them, where they belong, in His capable hands, it wasn’t such a burden. The fear and regret went away. I don’t have the answers. I am not good enough. I desperately need Him. They don’t need me as much as they need Jesus. The best thing I can offer them is Jesus. I can be honest, confess, ask for forgiveness and point them to Jesus who is perfect. When they make mistakes I can forgive and point them to Jesus reminding them that they will never be good enough that I why we need Jesus. Now instead of trying to be perfect and expecting perfection I can point them to the Gospel over and over and over. Every struggle, every mistake, every fall, every sinful display, every victory, each grace, each blessing, everything is an opportunity to point them to the Gospel.