A Word of Encouragement: For the Parent who Feels They just Can’t Get This Whole Parenting Thing Down.

Faithful One

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”- Ecclesiastes 1:9

Yep, this is another one of those posts. You know, the one you click on and wonder, ‘Is that the one I read already?’ Yet, you click on it anyway and begin to read, hoping to feel a sense of relief as the words leave the computer and hit your heart. Why? Because you are weary. You are worn down. Forget the whole, “There’s laundry and toys strewn all over the house”. No. This is a whole other ballgame. Try, “It’s noon and we are all in pajamas and I haven’t done anything except check my facebook and feed the kids as they watched Veggie tales all.morning.long.” (And maybe did a little crowd control when the youngest began to get upset at the oldest. That’s disciplining, right?) If we are honest, there are some days that the motivation to do this whole parenting thing is absolutely gone and really, all we want to do is go back to the days that things were less about diapers and crumbs and stickiness and tantrums, and more about the equally complicated but more predictable person in the mirror: self. We all have these thoughts, and then we think about the friend who is struggling with fertility, or the friends who have lost children, and we instantly not only feel guilty but also unworthy of this whole parenting gig. Yes, there are days where we wonder what in the world God was thinking- or what in the world WE were thinking- when we got assigned to the task at hand: raising other human beings. The whole idea seems bogus if you think about it long enough. Me, a selfish, sinful human being given the job of raising another selfish, human being or five? Whose idea was this again? For some of us, we would see our friends with kids, glance over at our spouses as they interacted with the sweet, cuddly, baby, and think, ‘Aw…we could have one of those together! How romantic!” (When I see these subtle exchanges between newlyweds, I laugh to myself, knowing I too was there but that sometimes, ignorance is truly bliss…and is the very thing God uses to keep the human race going. Oh, if we only knew on that end what this end looked like some days).

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(Who even is this person? She looks so rested, so alert, so carefree, so tan, so put together?)

Now, hear me. Parenting is amazing. It is a beautiful, humbling gift and not one of us would trade it if given the chance. But, let’s be honest in that most days, the gratitude sits in the distance with the overwhelmed heart in the forefront. And, as with other seasons of life, it never looks like what we thought it would- for some of us, it looks like something completely different than we could have ever imagined.

Before we had any inclination that the twins were going to have special needs, I had already begun reading parent discipline books. We had watched some friends before us raise their children up in the faith, and I knew that would be our desire as a family.

And then…

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And then, the Lord gave us these children, and suddenly, it was uncharted waters. Discipline was far from my mind, and survival became my motto. For months, Hugh and I have struggled with knowing how to raise children like ours up to know the love of God. Without scripture memory, vocal interactions, without an inkling of an idea of what they were thinking- how would we ever model and share our faith?

“For the wisdom of this world is nonsense in God’s sight.” -1 Corinthians 3:19a

“…truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”- Matthew 18:3

Suddenly, it hit me.

As I looked through God’s word, I realized that if what His words said were true, our girls might in fact understand the Gospel more than most adults. I was looking at understanding through the eyes of intellect, when in fact, God was reminding me that His wisdom has nothing to do with the world’s version of knowledge and everything to do with the understanding of the heart. Beyond that, when I realize that He is asking me to become more like the little children in front of me; maybe the task at hand was not as complicated as I was making it.

Hm.

I share this with you, dear reader, because I know many of you reading have children that are not developmentally disabled. You are trying, with all your might, to raise children that grasp the love of God… and I applaud you for your efforts. Yet, I am here to gently remind you that it is not your might or your efforts that are going to get your children to be enlightened to the truths of God.

“…not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”- Zechariah 4:6

While the Lord is honored by all our well-intentioned efforts, I believe He wants to encourage us today that He’s got this. God is the ultimate parent who knows how to love each of His children perfectly. He knows exactly what we need in order to serve and glorify Him fully- which is what we want at the end of the day. He has entrusted these children to us but really- they are His. His responsibility. And, get this: He, in His sovereign and omnipotent wisdom, chose YOU as the best person to nurture and love them each while they are here on earth. You are His best for them.

From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.

If I had not been blessed with girls like ours, I am sure that I would already be caught up in so many things that I realize now, just don’t plain matter in the big scheme of life. I am not saying these things are wrong- I am just reminding us that they should never be the focus of our families.

And, knowing so many people who have lost children, and living alongside many other special needs parents whose goals and dreams for their kids might be simply life, we want to share something with you:

Anything and everything your child is doing is amazing. Their little lives in themselves are miracles, no strings attached, no performance or milestone required.

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I am preaching to myself, sometimes daily, that this is His story and these are ultimately His children. He chooses the roles we play, in His wisdom friends, and He has got this.

When the laundry piles up, when the dog is eating more of the food than the toddler, when the tantrums in the grocery escalate and the entire store is ready for you to get your box of cereal and leave, when the elementary student brings home a “C” when you pictured an “A”, when your son cares more about video games than the instrument you so wanted him to like, when your teenager seems to care about everything BUT the love of God, despite your efforts…

His.

His timing.

His ways.

Dear parent: He cares about your children more than you ever could.

We teach our kids to sing that He has the whole world in His hands- but do we believe it?

We teach them that every color-black, white, even purple- the most unique of us all- are precious in His sight- but do we live that out?

Do we celebrate our children even when they don’t turn out to be mini-me’s of ourselves?

In the midst of so many different activities and assignments and struggles, I want to remind you, dear momma, sweet father, that He has got this.

I want to encourage you that when you feel overwhelmed, you need only look up and ask the One who created these children of His to give you the wisdom you need to help make them the best version of themselves. The One who gave you the very breath you breathe has equipped you with all you need to do His will. (Hebrews 13:21)

My prayer for you today is that you would not complicate this whole parenting gig more than He has required. That you would look to His strength, His comfort, His purposes, and find joy and peace to nourish your anxious heart.

And, when you find yourself having one of those, “Have we even left the couch?” kind of days… may you be more focused on the love you have shared than the pressures this world might put on you.

Love is truly enough.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”- John 13:34-35

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