Motherhood. As a little girl, I played with dolls, pretending and looking forward to being a mother. As a teenager, sometimes I vowed I would never do it like my mother, or maybe, I will do it just like my mother. My children love to tease me about how much I am just like my mother. That is a good thing.
Once I found my “perfect” man, we planned our wedding and talked about how many children we would have and our child-rearing philosophies. Five years after our wedding and honeymoon, I got wonderful news. I was going to be a mother in nine “short” months. I began to think about all the things that go into motherhood. I read every book on raising godly children that I could get my hands on. I was trying to find how best to nurture my baby while it was still in my womb. I swore off all medications except for maybe an occasional Tylenol for a headache. I vowed to eat only what was healthy for me and therefore my baby. I experienced nausea for the first three months of every pregnancy. My vows to eat healthfully (“I am going to be disciplined, drink lots of water and go for at least one walk every day.”) quickly turned into physical threats (“Give me a burger, fries and Coke, and nobody dies!”). I was so tired and sick that I was lucky to pull myself out of bed before my husband got home from work. Many decisions needed to be made: natural childbirth or epidural, doctor or midwife, in the hospital or at home. Each decision was based upon different considerations for each of us. Because each person is unique and the decisions we all make are based upon unique considerations, we hope to make the best decision. Although at the time, there is often no way to be sure.
Finally, the little bundle of joy arrives. NOW WHAT?
Before I became a parent, I had all the answers, and I knew exactly what I would do in each situation. Then I brought my precious child home and I wondered, “WHAT WAS I THINKING?“ I had no idea what to do. “Nursing is so natural and perfectly designed by God.” It looked so natural. My daughter snuggled up to me at the perfect distance so she could see my smiling face. “Nursing is the perfect bonding experience,” I thought. “Then why is it so difficult? Why isn’t it working? Why does it hurt so badly? No one warned me about this!”
How many times did I get up and check on my baby to make sure she was still breathing those first few nights? I think it was every five minutes. It might have been every hour. Then there were the nights the baby never stopped crying. At least I knew she was alive…all night long. Eventually I made it through the first week. Some things became routine, but each new day brought new decisions. Decisions that could have been life and death for the child the Lord had entrusted to me. Just as weighty were the decisions about how I was going to mold and shape this soul spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. When I was babysitting for other people’s children as a teenager, it seemed like such a heavy responsibility just to keep them alive and to keep them in bed until their mother and father returned. Now I was literally responsible for absolutely everything about my child’s life. How do we as mere humans handle this responsibility?
I can remember when a friend told me that it was God’s perfect design for fallible, sinful, human parents to raise the next generation. My first thought was, “I have finally found a mistake the Lord has made.” Then I really started thinking about that statement. Why would God want sinful parents to raise the next generation, passing on their sin to their children? Several thoughts ran through my head. Yes, I may be the actual instrument that God is using to mold and shape the child He has lent to me, but His hands are firmly on my hands as I place the clay (my child) on the potter’s wheel, and WE begin to shape this clay into a vessel perfectly fitted for His use. God is using me, even with my faults and sin to raise these children for His glory. God’s sovereignty became very real. In spite of my faults, He is still able to accomplish His plan through me. How comforting! How humbling!
After I was well into “practicing” my parenting with a few more children, the Lord opened the eyes of my understanding to the truth of “don’t walk in the flesh so that you will walk in the Spirit.” If that doesn’t sound correct, it is because it is NOT correct. Isn’t that how many of us try to live each day? We focus on the flesh and all the things we should or should not be doing. The actual verse reads, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye SHALL NOT fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, emphasis added). The Lord showed me that I had been too concerned with the things of the flesh. Do this. Don’t do that. I had completely missed the truth that if I would focus on Christ and His Holy Spirit who dwells in me, then I would walk in the Spirit, thus displaying all the fruits of the Spirit to my family. Once I had seen my parenting through this new lens, I realized how many mistakes I had made along the way. How in the world were my children ever going to recover from the scars and wounds I had unintentionally inflicted on them? How were they ever going to become healthy, contributing members of society?
A dear friend of mine said to me, “Just as the Lord has done a huge work in your life in showing you that you have the choice to walk in the Spirit, the Lord is also able to accomplish the same thing in your children’s lives. Then your children will experience firsthand the power of God in their lives. He will be glorified, just like He was when He showed Himself mighty to you.” What a weight lifted off my shoulders! All along the way in my parenting, I had tried to do what was right and best for my children, but in many ways I had sinned and failed my children. This was no surprise to God, and He already had the remedy. He would take my weaknesses (sins) and turn them into an opportunity to show Himself as the healer in my children’s lives. In this, we would all rejoice in the goodness of our God. God showed me where I was wrong and changed me. My children can see that He loves them through His love for me and that He is able to heal their hurts and use those things to grow them in His grace.
Another friend recently told me that there are good and bad experiences, but no bad lessons. Every experience, good or bad, leads to a lesson. I thought, “Wow, that is one way we know ‘that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’” (Romans 8:28). God’s perfect design is to use sinful, imperfect humans to raise the next generation to bring glory to Himself through all people, by the demonstration of His grace through their circumstances. Praise be to God!
All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
This article was published in the Winter 2013 edition of The Beautiful Spirit. The author wished to remain anonymous. If you would like to contact the author, leave a comment, email us at email@example.com, or message us on Facebook. We would love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash.