I’ve said it before and I’m sure this won’t be the last…
Parenting is hard and no one fully prepared me.
No one sat at my baby shower and told me the hard-fast truth about the difficulties that my womb-dwellers would eventually cause. No one stood up and grabbed the proverbial microphone and shouted warnings about the painful sacrifices and the scary unknowns that would accompany the precious moments of parenting. No one handed me a gift, grabbed a muffin, and then looked me square in the eyes and said, “Listen mama…some day this baby in the belly is going to be screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘I hate Adam and Eve,’ while simultaneously questioning the sovereignty of God at age eight, and you’re gonna stand there shocked with not a clue as to how to deal. NOT A CLUE.”
No. One. Did. Any. Of. This.
And ya know what…that’s okay. Because had they, I would have probably either not believed them, refused delivery, or lived in fear until age 8.
Friends, parenting is hard. REAL hard.
Sure, there’s the difficulties of sleepless nights, feeding, reflux, and helping your children not bite the arms of others. And yes, there’s the struggle of deciding on what to feed your child and how to feed your child and where to send your child to school and when to send your child to school. And a million other struggles in between the weaning, the teething, and the potty training, and then there are MORE.
How do you teach them respect and kindness? How do you help them think about others? How do you model the Gospel and how do you consistently and fairly discipline? What about modesty, sexuality, and “stranger danger?” And how about the do’s and don’ts of asserting their will while also humbling loving others?
On and on it goes.
Parenting seems to be a continual journey of beautiful blessings and memorable milestones mixed in with a bunch of “Oh-my-word-how-do-I-even-deal-with-this” kind of moments, along with a steady undercurrent of wanting to tear your hair out. Let’s be honest, people. That’s the skinny on parenting.
And a few weeks ago, I was there.
Standing on the stairs of our basement, I looked on as our oldest son ranted and raved.
“I hate Adam and Eve. I hate them! If they hadn’t sinned, then we wouldn’t sin! I hope they don’t get to go to heaven!”
Is this real-life? Is. THIS. REAL. life? Over and over, I paced the top of the stairs.
I was shocked by his anger, overwhelmed by his sentiments, and a little scared by his line of questioning. And just when I had swallowed my shock and mustered my mouth to open itself, he began a new tirade.
“And if God is powerful like you say He is, then why wouldn’t He just put an end to sin and take us to heaven right after they ate the apple?!?!?!? Why didn’t He just take away our choice to sin?!?!?! Why did He even make the tree and the apple?!?!?!”
I’m not sure how many minutes passed, but I know there were tears running down my face, and my words were a mumbled, jumbled mess of stammers and stutters. Fumbling through my fears and working my way through my shock, I attempted to empathize with his frustrations and normalize his questions. I walked through the Gospel of God’s plan; I reminded him of the big-ness of God’s ways and the small-ness of our understanding; and I reiterated the faith involved in belief. I encouraged him to wrestle with these questions, pray about these questions, and continue to trust God with these questions.
I held him; I hugged him; and I silently begged the Lord to meet us on those stairs.
There were no simplistic answers for these big questions and though I knew that in my Christian-brain, my Mama-brain felt a little overwhelmed.
As I tucked him in that night, tired from all his ranting and exhausted from all his crying, I sat outside his room.
I prayed for his little heart and his big questions, and I asked our Big God to help our little selves.
In that hallway, I felt so small and so unsure…so needful and dependent.
And ya know what?
I think that’s all a part of God’s big and beautiful plan for all of us scared and overwhelmed parents.
He calls us to a God-sized task, so that we have countless opportunities to be child-like in our faith.
He calls us to steward and shepherd these big responsibilities, so that we would remain humble, dependent, and ever-seeking of His endless wisdom and forever strength.
He calls us to the impossible, so that we would seek His face for the possible.
I believe it. I do.
Days after his “Adam and Eve Rant,” he raised his hand during a breakfast devotional and said, “I think God wants to give us choices to love Him. If He didn’t give us choices, then that wouldn’t be loving.”
Smiling with tears in my eyes, I simply said, “Yes, I agree.” And when he left the table after a bowl of fruit and a plate of toast, I thanked the Lord for His work and for His commitment to our faith.
A few days ago, in preparation for my Sunday School lesson, I stumbled upon the words of Solomon in 1 Kings 3:7-9.
“And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
Did you catch that?
The soon-to-be-King comes to the Lord in such a needy, overwhelmed way. He admits his smallness, acknowledges his weakness, and asks for the wisdom of God to do a God-sized task.
In the face of leading a nation of people, Solomon raises his small hand.
He doesn’t ask for a curriculum; he doesn’t request a manual; and he doesn’t demand all of the answers. Nope. He simply asks for HOLY HELP.
And ya know what?
I think that’s the very posture of parents that God desires most.
Small. Needy. Dependent. Humbled. Asking.
Friends, we won’t have all the answers and we don’t need to…because He does.
So whether you find yourself in a conundrum over discipline, a struggle over feeding, a worry over schooling, or a shell-shocked moment with a child who wants heaven withheld from the man and woman who ate the apple, may we put to the test the words and promise of James 1:5.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.