|The Slough of Despond by Edward Callum, BBC paintings, photo credit: Luton Culture|
After many conversations with my husband on parenting over the years, one area has never really "stuck" with me. I flounder when I must stand up and operate under the authority God has given me as a mother. Knowing my role as a mother to lead and train my kids in righteousness and knowing my kids' propensity to try to gain control brings me to certain "crisis" in parenting every few months. I know what I must do, but I fail time and again. In frustration and perfectionism, I sink in the slough of despond.
Recently as we have been calling out to God in prayer for our children, God has been leading me to seek Him and to sow seeds of righteousness and steadfast love in the hearts of my children. I have been renewed in my desire to read the Bible to them and teach them to love the Lord. Unbeknownst to me, a friend had been praying for us these words from Hosea 10:12:
When she shared this with me, it was a timely word…like apples of gold, in settings of silver. Oh, how these words apply to our parenting! God has been listening to our prayers all along. He will not forsake us and our children.
While I was ironing some clothes for Ethan's upcoming trip, I put on a two-part youtube talk from Elisabeth Elliot on Christian mothering entitled "A Peaceful Home." I read her book "The Shaping of a Christian Family" many years ago, but the time was really right this time as I listened to her old-fashioned advice and help for mothers. I especially finally understand what Ethan had been talking about all these years when she described the meaning of "Verbal Authority." Of course, I responded with grief, guilt, and regret as I heard her many wise suggestions for parents. Immediately, I turned to Jesus in prayer.
Lord, You know how weak I am. Have mercy on me, Jesus! Help me parent these children. Transform us. Give our family peace. Peace. Peace. May we honor You, Jesus. May we glorify You. Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner. Help me to be the mother, the authority, that you have made me to be. Teach us to obey Your commandments.Giving the weight of parenting to Jesus is my only option. I have already tried to implement a legalistic set of requirements and methods in order to raise my kids in the way they should go. In many ways, these outside rules and lists only take the authority from me as the mother to some outside abstract "way." This only leads to judgment and joylessness. The result is not happy, joyful children who love Jesus, but angry little legalists. Hmm…that is not what we want for them. I want a relationship with my kids that is loving between us (horizontal) and loving towards God (vertical). Raising your children to know the grace of Jesus and the loving, consistent authority and discipline of a parent is entirely different than a list of rules. I know I have not arrived at a perfect epiphany on parenting, but God is gradually moving me towards Him and giving me back what sin has tried to steal: Love, Joy, and Peace.