I felt pretty confident as a parent when I was younger. This I attribute to a number of factors.
- I was 23 years old and I didn't have a clue. Ignorance was, as they say, bliss.
- I was the eldest of 7 children. There was always a baby in the house. I knew what to do with little kids. Feed, change, sleep, repeat. Snuggle, read books, play, repeat.
- I thought that if you did everything right, then your kids would turn out right. (Having failed, apparently, to check out the first few chapters of Genesis where God parents the first two humans and they go completely off the rails.)
Now I'm 47, and in the process of all this parenting, I have become a whole lot less confident of my capacity to make things work out right, because:
- I don't have as much control as I wish I did.
- My kids all came standard with free will. Part of the factory installation package.
- The whole big, broken world full of pain and sorrow is out there, and I can't keep it from hurting my babies.
Don't get me wrong, there's a bunch of stuff I think is important, when it comes to parenting.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
Apologize. Laugh. Rest.
Balance that freedom and responsibility thing with your kids, one developmental stage at a time.
And, while you're spinning all those plates: deal with your own junk.
(Maybe you're not sure if you have junk that needs to be dealt with, but this is your lucky day. I have created a handy-dandy assessment tool that will let you know, for sure, if you have junk or not. Here it is: Are you a human being? If the answer is yes, then you have junk. If the answer is no, welcome to our planet and enjoy your stay.)
But at the end of the day, my perfect parenting (which exists only the realm of pure fantasy) guarantees pretty much zippola.
My kids get to choose.
And other people get to choose.
And all those things collide out there in the real world.
Which leaves me in a place that sometimes feels pretty scary.
But, in the process of learning that my parenting capacity is woefully limited, I have experienced this other one whole beautiful thing, for sure.
Here it is.
1. God is at work, and His love never fails.
When I have failed as a parent.
When my kids have made bad choices.
When other people have made bad choices.
No matter what.
God is at work, and His love never fails.
This is one of those things that we know to be true in our heads, because the Bible tells us so.
But I've also found it to be true in my heart these past few years. I've lived through it now, and I know that I know that I know.
The best and most amazing transformations, both in my own life and the lives of my children? Those have come when I could not.
When I could not do one more thing.
I had tried and tried and tried and fixed and fixed and fixed and I just could not.
And then God.
(This probably surprises one whole person. Me.)
I'm thinking about this now, because tomorrow is college move-in day.
And I just need to remind myself of what I know for sure.
God has been at work. He will be at work.
His love never fails.