Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The deep and wide of parenting

"Mom, I just have this feeling I am going to get the 2nd grade teacher that I don't want next year."

Her words, uttered this morning over a breakfast of cold cereal, were like nails on a chalkboard. I felt my body tense up, a sense of panic washing over me. How is it that at the ripe young age of 6, she already has adopted this mentality, this fear that we will receive the worst? Is it something I said? Has this attitude bled through in the way I parent? This is MY struggle and MY challenge to overcome - this seeing God as punisher, the giver of hard. It should NOT be hers.

I pondered her words momentarily as I continued my morning routine of dishwasher emptying, smoothie making and fetching all the myriad of breakfast "essentials" my three offspring tell me I have forgotten.

I wasn't sure where to go from there so I began by being curious.

"Why do you think you are going to get that teacher?" I asked.

"I just have this feeling," was her simple response.

She went on to tell me that there was another teacher she really wanted because she looked so nice in her yearbook picture but that she probably wouldn't get her. I stood there, stricken, my childhood self displayed before me in the form of my own daughter. What happened to the childish phenomena of dreaming big? I thought the sky was supposed to be the limit when you were a kid but here she was, already anticipating the worst.

I stopped everything I was doing a pulled up a chair. Doing anything else would mean forgoing an incredible parenting opportunity.

I started, "You know, Isla, I know what that's like - to want one thing really bad but to just have this feeling you will get the other."

I paused, unsure of where to go next, waiting for the words to come to me. "But you know what? Since we know Jesus, we can have this thing called peace. We can know in our hearts that God is in control and that He knows the best possible place for us to be next year. It may not be the classroom you thought would be the best but we can trust that he has something pretty amazing in mind for us."

I sat there, desperately longing for her to believe my words as much as I wanted to really, truly, fully believe my words.

To my surprise, she seemed satisfied with my answer and moved on quickly to the next topic of conversation. I wondered if my words sunk in. I pray that they will. I pray fervently against the idea that my kids will grow up viewing God as one who is out to get us, that He doesn't want good things for us. Though He does punish and discipline when we go astray, as Christians, we so often miss the mark. Whichever nail we hammer the most is going to be the one that sinks the deepest. First and foremost, I want my kids to know the infinite nature of God's love and pursuit after their hearts, no matter what. I want them to be raised to recognize and look for all the ways God is at work, the big and the small. I want this to be the lens through which I view the world as much as it is theirs.

I always envisioned myself having these elaborate sit-down conversations with my children about deep things. I pictured myself having time to figure out what I was going to say and how I would present to them what I believe to be true. But this is never my reality, any of our reality really. Most often, we are blind-sided by our children with some of life's toughest issues over bowls of cold cereal in the morning when we are rushing to try and get out the door. We don't have time to prepare a perfect answer, laced with Scriptural references to back up our case.

But I'm learning to be ok with that. I'm giving myself permission to say the words "You know, that's a really good question and I don't know the answer to it." (I'm also learning to respond to their really tough theological questions with "I think you should go ask your father.") ;) Most importantly though, I'm learning that no answer could be better than to talk about how wide and long and high and deep is the love that Christ has for us (Ephesians 3:18). When all else fails, this is what we all need to hear.

It is on mornings like these when find myself in awe of the sheer responsibility I have in raising these little humans in a big and confusing world. Lord knows we are going to screw up our kids in one way or another, but please God, give us the grace we need to portray the crux of who you are to these little ones you entrusted to us. And may we seize every opportunity to share with them a little more of who you are and what it is that you desire for us!

1 comment:

  1. I love this! I love how you paused and took a deep breath and talked to her about Jesus. I stink at that. I often find myself at a total loss of what to say in situations like these, and I think pointing it back to Jesus is such a true and right thing to do. Thank you for the reminder. I admire this so much about you.


posted by kelsie