My kids were 7 and 5 when my journey started. We had just moved to a new town, my son was in second grade and my daughter in kindergarten. We had been in a new community for 6 months or so. They were both missing their old house, familiar surroundings, and questioning why we had moved. I can’t claim that we were the picture of a happy family, it was the opposite. I was on the path to recreate the life that I had as a kid and I can truly say that meeting Jesus was the best thing that could have happened. Because I committed my life to Christ, I learned that I could stop recreating the past. I could change the way I parented my kids.
I think that the most pertinent thing for me to share is that because I lacked peace and any understanding of my own value, parenting in a way that would encourage my kids to be confident in themselves was impossible. My relationship with my kids was similar to a Sargent and Private in the army. Yikes! Gosh, even thinking about it makes me cringe, the good thing is that it is all forgiven and writing this just makes me so thankful for that. Anyway…because I parented out of my experiences and out of my pain, both of my children experienced and acted out with insecurity and fear. Because I was very isolated, we didn’t have moms groups and play dates. I didn’t teach my kids how to relate to other children or how to be confident in who they are at a young age. Without anything to guide me in another direction, we were headed toward heartache.
The beautiful thing about committing your life to Christ in the middle of your parenting journey is that you get a do over. In that first year of Christianity, I came face to face with my biggest fear. My son was being verbally and eventually physically bullied by boys in his class. My flesh reaction was to pull him out of school immediately. Run from the problem and hope that it wouldn’t happen again. The cool thing is that something rose up inside of me that wasn’t me. It was the urge to face the issue. We did move him to a different classroom. We prayed, I cried with my son. But I am really glad that we stayed at that school. The next year, all but one of those boys left to attend another school. The one who stayed became a good friend to my son, they would laugh and joke together. It was an amazing transformation. A true victory over fear.
The goal of my parenting journey has changed since I came to know Jesus. Instead of trying to control my kids and prevent bad things from happening, I have let go. My children are not reincarnates of me and they are not destined to recreate my story. They are individuals entrusted to me by a loving God that have their own purpose and destiny. I have the honor to cultivate the fulfillment of that destiny. I have learned that my kids have value to God, that they are a gift to me (Psalm 127:3). It is my charge from God that I teach my children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). I allow my kids to make mistakes and learn from them. Both of my children now come to me for counsel when things are difficult and they need help. Parenting has turned from duty to joy.
I have learned that my children are not the center of my world. My children are a part of my destiny and definitely a part of my legacy. However, they are along for the ride God is taking me on and they participate in my destiny just as much as I am supposed to cultivate theirs. Motherhood does not define me nor does it control me. It is a part of me but only a part. While there is no scripture to support this, I would say that the results of making my children the center of my world created certain death of anything that had been laid out before me as my destiny apart from parenting. I have given up the guilt and shame that comes with what the world tells me I should do to give my children a fairy tale childhood. I am grounded in this: that teaching my children in the way they should go means that I am preparing them to one day live life apart from me. The more they depend on me to solve their problems, to entertain them, or to be their maid servant the less likely they will be prepared to care of themselves or function responsibly as adults. Being a Godly parent means that I am their example of a God fearing individual. I pour into them love, grace, and mercy, which is so much fun! I show them by example the heart of God that is for them. When they leave they will spread their wings and fly. This does not mean that I don’t enjoy camping or throwing the ball or painting my daughters nails. The small things are what bring us joy! But the desire of my heart and the desire God has is that both of my kids know Him and have a relationship with Him. And if they depart from a relationship with God, I trust that Jesus will chase them down, tackle them and kiss them all over (Luke 15:11-32). They turn red when I say this but they know that Jesus has an unrelenting love for them and if they stray, they will be found (Luke 15:4-6)! Thank you Jesus that parenting has become a true joy and that I can trust in you to teach me the way I should go so that I can teach my kids they way they should go!