Once upon a time there was an overwhelmed, tired, impatient, frustrated, angry, sad, and frightened mom. Like other mothers, she had entered motherhood with expectations and assumptions...she just didn't realize it. She assumed that she could raise her children using the exact same methods that her parents had used in raising her. She expected these methods to work because they were based on biblical principles. Only God knew that the children He gave her were going to blow those expectations and assumptions right out of the water!
The children didn't respond the way the mother expected to the guidelines, directions, and methods she was using to raise them. Of course she knew there would be opposition no one is perfect, not even her little angels! What she didn't plan on were the tantrums, the talking back, the strong will, and a season where every day was a battle. She tried everything she knew and then lost her temper. When she lost her temper she slammed doors, yelled, and lectured. Sometimes an occasional curse word would fly out of her mouth, and right after it hung wide open in shock! She felt like a bad example, a failure. Many times she cried and prayed, certain that she was messing up her kids. Sometimes she left. There were times when she waited by the door because she knew her husband would be home soon. She stood there waiting shoes and coat on, keys in hand ready to make a run for it, to escape for a few hours. She was tired of the battle of wills.
One day when she had come to the end of herself, she sat at the kitchen table with her Bible open and simply said, "God I don't even know what to pray anymore. Show me." Suddenly verses that she had memorized as a child flooded her mind one after the other. She quickly wrote them down until they stopped coming and peace flooded her soul. For the next two years she prayed those verses over her children's lives every day...and SHE was transformed. She prayed those verses over her children, allowed those verses to guide her responses to her children, and taught them to her children so they would know that God had something to say about how to live life. Her children were transformed too. Over time the battle of the wills became a less common occurrence, expectations and assumptions vanished, and hearts were softened and teachable. She didn't lose her temper as easily, she stopped slamming doors, and she yelled less. Praying these Scriptures over her children catapulted her into praying for others. Her prayer life took off and she learned how to use her Sword, the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. She became convinced that the Word of God is alive and active, and it gets things done. She also became convinced of her constant need for Christ. Without Him she would still be that mother at the beginning of our story and who knows what terrible shape her kids would be in!
That mother is me. I share all of this because I've been doing some thinking back lately. In recent weeks my husband and I have received some very encouraging words about our children, their behavior, their love for God, their love for others, and their knowledge of God's Word. Some have said, "You must be doing something right." That's why I wrote this tonight. You see, I didn't do anything right. I KNOW it was all God. I'm thankful for the encouragement and I'm thankful that people see God at work in my girls. However, more than anything I am so incredibly thankful that God brought me to the end of myself that day at the kitchen table and lead me in the direction I needed to go to raise these kids of mine. It's something I never take for granted because we're still in the process of raising them and two things I know for sure...there will be battles yet to come and I will always fight them on my knees!
One more thing...if you are reading this and you can identify with the mom at the beginning of this tale don't give up, let go. Open your hand to God and let go of your expectations, assumptions, fears, and perceived failures. Keep your now empty hand open to receive His love, wisdom, grace, forgiveness, and peace. No one loves and understands you and your kids more than God. No one else can guide you through parenting AND transform you in the process. I am convinced that no matter how old our children get (even when they are adults), we will always need wisdom in how to love them in the way they will best receive it at the time. I also know that for as long as I need wisdom...I need God!