When something doesn’t go well, I have a tendency to look back at all the things that I should have done, or could have done differently and beat myself up, but God keeps reminding me that no matter how well or imperfectly I parented He is in control of the outcome.
If only I had done family devotions when my children were growing up…if only we had eaten meals together each night…if only I were more consistent with rules and chores…if only I was more patient…not so strict…gone to church…been more involved in school activities…if only I was smarter…more emotionally intelligent….more selfless…more sensitive…if only only these things were realities instead of what if’s then perhaps my teenagers would be the people I had dreamed they would turn out to be.
Have you ever done this to yourself? I do it all the time, in fact it’s a regular battle I have to face, a daily giant I must slay. Today I was thinking… if I did it all the things then my children would only need me in life and if they only needed me, they would never see their need for Jesus Christ, God the Father or the Holy spirit, others and most importantly they would never see their need to make choices for themselves. So thank you Lord i was imperfect in my parenting. I regularly forget that parents play a small role in the life of their children, and a smaller role in the life of their teenagers, and the smallest role in the life of their grown adult children. A thousand parenting books will not make you and I the parents we think we ought to be. I have read a good deal of them, and the reality is I can’t do and be all the hundreds of suggestions and advice given.
When it comes to having a good relationship with Christ, when it comes to salvation, a circumcised heart, a redeemed mind, humility, character, receiving truth, genuine repentance and bonafide service to others , we ought to remember we cannot generate these things in our children, no matter how perfect we were. Neither can we prevent them if we were imperfect.
I realize, these things are not dependant or about me at all, nor do they depend on my performance as a parent. King David was a man after God’s own heart – and yet many of his sons floundered and croaked spiritually and relationally. And there will always be men like Jim Daley president of Focus on the Family who had a horrible childhood and yet look at the godly man he has become. His life and his devotion to family and God are a testimony not to his parents but to his own choices and to the grace of God. If I did all things right and perfect, than my children’s testimony would be about how I saved them…that’s why I believe God doesn’t permit us to be perfect parents. We are imperfect so that our children are imperfect and then God’s grace is made perfect and sufficient in their lives leading them to see his work in and around them in order complete them.
It is the work of God that men believe. It is not the work of those who raise the children, but the work of the Lord God almighty who made the children. It’s not because we are great parents or horrible parents that our children turn out one way or another, despite how much I agree with Malcolm Gladwell’s theories of opportunity. When we hold on too long its evidence that we hold on for ourselves. I remember wanting a baby, I remember wanting someone to want me the most. When you are the only one who can satisfy and comfort a child, that feels pretty amazing and its hard to release that sort of power. They make us feel valuable, and we don’t want to give that up. But God uses them to mature us so that we can see our value in Christ if we are willing.
Have you ever read about foxes or seen them with their young? We had an opportunity this year when a family of foxes set up their den in our backyard. Foxes are great parents. They are protective, they are good providers, they are very clean and attentive to their young, they are playful and they are great teachers. There is no guarantee a fox mother or father won’t get eaten or killed along the way, but typically families remain together. But guess what? This only lasts for about 6 months. then the fox kits are on their own! It is the natural course to release them into the wild.
So what? its hard to let them go even after 18 years. They tend to grow on us, and we love them so. So they need to misbehave and sin so we will let go. They outgrow the den, they outgrow our provisions and they outgrow us. Thank God, but it’s still hard and it still hurts like hell. God is so good though he uses even the task of parenting to mature us.
"Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." James 1:2
We do what we have, we give what we can, we love to our limits. The outcome belongs to God, our children’s future is in his hands. We are a stepping stone to get them to the next phases in life, the next peoples, the next teachers, friends and co workers. We extend to our children what was extended to us and maybe a little more, then we release them into the wild world because that is what mature parents do.