There is a story tucked in the Old Testament that I can so deeply relate to. The more popular story is Samson and his love Delilah, but before this strong man gave away his secret, he was a baby born to a childless woman. An angel of the Lord came to her with news that she would have a son, Samson, who would take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines. The excited wife runs to tell the soon-to-be dad. His response (Judges 13.8) was a prayer to the Lord: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
I so see myself doing that. “Thanks God for the big news, but HOLD UP! I need more instruction!”
I want the instruction book. I have looked mind you. Read books. Scanned hundreds of magazine articles and searched for the best blogs that can give me the formula for parenting my children the right Christian way. I have found a few that I have latched onto. Read a great book that helped me get Soccer Dude on a schedule when he was a newborn. Thought I could write my own book when he was a happy child sleeping through the night at six weeks. Then it didn’t work for Roo. Read another great book on teaching my child first time obedience….then I adopted children who didn’t trust a word I said. I actually am reading a book right now about parenting from a place of grace. I will let you know how that turns out.
When I am not sure how to instruct my children’s hearts, when the discipline isn’t working, when I am exhausted and can’t come up with what to do next, when I am falling short…….I want a manual or a list of the exact right thing to do in order to love my children well and usher them into adulthood as well adjusted, loving servants of Jesus.
Now before all of you email me wondering what tragedy is hitting our family. I will honestly tell you – nothing. There is nothing huge. Just the same things. The kids fight. They don’t want to help out around the house. You know the story; They are selfish and disobedient and I sound like a broken record. “We treat each other with kindness and respect.” “We are a family so we help each other.” “We think of others before ourselves.” “Obey your parents so that it can go well with you.” Seriously wonder when it sinks in. I must be doing something wrong. I should just record these sentences, download them on a mandatory ipod that hangs from the neck of every child in the Williams village.
That is when the weight gets heavy and I could get overwhelmed with guilt or I can remember that just like my children….I am not perfect and I need some grace.
I am on this journey with my kids; We are learning together. In this fast food culture it is tempting to want to see immediate results from my efforts as a mom. It just doesn’t work that way. I will need to be in this race till the end and I am starting to realize that the end…..well, the end might be when I am old and senile and these four crazies are taking care of their crazy old mother.
Adding Little Man into our family has thrust us back into two year old tantrum world. I had almost forgotten those days. The thing is, tantrums all look the same. I have watched them in all four of our kids. There was a moment during one fit of complete selfish meltdown that I stopped seeing my toddler and saw myself. Whenever I focus on the hard things and want my own way more than God, in essences I am throwing a tantrum and God is there holding me and coxing me to see truth and turn.
The truth that I am trying to hold onto today…..yes, raising kids is a responsibility that I should take seriously, but I am not Jesus. I can’t do this thing perfect nor can I expect my children to all of a sudden “get it” and be perfect themselves. So I am shrugging off the weight and turning towards grace.
p.s. I do still kinda wish kids came with a manual. Just saying.