Friday, November 6, 2015

Parenting: A Dance of Self-Sacrifice

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Right now I'm full of joy, but earlier today misery visited. It's not Mother's Day or anything, but my gratitude spills over as I think about my four sleeping children.

The boys’ OCD continues to be a monumental challenge. A few times a week my hands go up to my hair in frustration; a good hair tug is just what I need. You know that expression “pulling out my hair”? I don’t exactly pull it out, but screaming in frustration would be too stressful to my housemates, and I can’t get in the car without my children and just drive off the stress, so hair pulling works. Tension is released and at the same time I remember that we are on this earth as pilgrims for a nano-second, passing through. OCD is a temporary problem.

It's a testimony to God's grace that I sit here and declare my gratitude...because this is a hard road we're on.

But back to parenting joy…I just love these precious ones so much. They are such good company, so warm and delightful and funny and sweet. The greatest privilege in life besides serving the Lord, is serving one’s children. Watching them spread their wings, guiding them with love and scripture, honoring them with my time and attention and devotion…it’s all so rich.

The longer I do this, the more I realize that a great parent is a selfless parent. We make little decisions all day long about the extent to which we’ll deny ourselves. Each little decision matters and together they influence the content of a child's memories. A self-denying parent sows fond memories, while a self-involved parent sows neglect and eventual disdain.

Will I forgo a few minutes of reading to peel apples for the kids? Will I set the 600-page classic novel aside to do a hands-on lesson my girls need, rather than just giving a math worksheet? Will I set aside the messy house to read library books to my kids, even though what I’d rather do is send the children outside so I can vacuum, sweep and dust—something which makes me feel better, even though the books make them feel better? Will I keep going forward with the next important thing, using my time wisely, or will I go to the computer to check my email and then get distracted with that news story about Marco Rubio's supposedly-disastrous finances?

All these decisions matter for eternity. My parenting matters for eternity.  I can model self-sacrifice or self-indulgence, a love for God or a love for myself.  I can have lofty ideas and goals, but what really matters is my behavior, not my intentions.

Good intentions don’t rear spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually well-balanced young people. Self-sacrifice does.

Lay down your life. Fade to the background. Be the wind their wings crave. 

Fill up on God, not self. Give from the abundance God provides, for the Christian is never empty-hearted. The Living Water is ours to drink from. We need not ever thirst again.

1 comment:

Tesha Papik said...

Amen this is so true! I thank God for a conscience and his spirt that tugs at my heart to put aside my selfishness and love my kids!