God’s Grace Through Difficult Parenting

god's grace through difficult parenting, simple on purpose

Parenting comes in seasons. Some of them are warm long summer days on patios. Some of them are spent driving through snowstorms with a car full of tired, hungry, crying kids.

During a very difficult (hardest of my life) season with my second baby I felt abandoned, helpless, and alone. I would cry almost nightly while trying to console her to sleep. All the while having conversations and concessions with God. Wondering what the answer was to fix.all.the.problems. Extending myself to ‘listen better’ for prompts on what is the next ‘correct’ move. I didn’t want to screw anything up.

 

One night, after debating back and forth in my mind about all the details on the best way to do sleep training with this nine month old girl, she was finally asleep in my arms. I was holding her in the dark in her rocking chair, timing the minutes til I could put her in her crib without waking her. I was stewing, yet again, at how God has left me in the wilderness. Fighting bitterness over the past nine months of her crying and me helpless.
Then, in a quiet whisper, for one of the few times in my life, it felt like audibly could hear God respond. He told me ‘It doesn’t matter, whatever you do, or don’t do, my grace makes up for everything and I will accomplish my purpose for her…no matter what’.
At first I cried, tears with the hot saltiness that only comes with relief. Then I began then process of slowly unhinging all the rusty latched-up rules and expectations I had chosen to live by. I had built these proud walls up around my mom heart. Each brick was labeled with sentiments like: ‘I won’t fail them the ways I felt failed’; ‘I am not capable of this part’; ‘Only I alone can do this part’; ‘This is how my babies SHOULD act’; ‘This is what good moms do’…..

There was a lot of unforgiveness in my heart. There was a lot of fear, which wears the coat of anxiety and control – that can sometimes be passed off as ‘caring’. But it’s not selfless like caring and compassion. It is a tight hand white-knuckling around giving up or exposing yourself.

 

I was afraid of failing my kids as a mother. I was afraid of what I would do incorrectly instead of relying on the fact that God fills in the blanks where I will inevitably fail. I thought it was some hiccup in Heaven’s nursery administration that these children were placed in my care rather than acknowledging that God is the author of our family.  I was waiting to be exposed as a fraud and spent hours toiling over the next box I needed to check off to keep people looking in the opposite direction of what I perceived as shortcomings.

 

It was my own thoughts that tore down my mothering.

 

I let that luring voice of doubt tell me I wasn’t enough, that I would screw this up, that I was already failing right out of the gate. This underlying belief set the tone for my entire family. I think God really let me slip, for my own good. To see my blind spots, to see my pride, to see my lack of faith. To see where this was overflowing into other parts of my life. Being a mom wasn’t the plunging root that cracked this hard ground, but it sure widened the cracks that were already existing.

 

It was the hardest and most fruitful year of my adult life.

After that difficult second baby I look back now and recognize that God has placed me in a season of ease and rest, like a hot honeyed chamomile tea at the end of a cold day. And when this third child comes so will another unchartered season that I will most likely find difficult and overwhelming.  Just like last the last time, with hard fists and tight lips, I will force myself to unfold. A season where I must let go of all my expectations of what the landscape and quality of my day to day life and mothering ought to be like. And just like with my second child I will watch Him provide: A helpful visitor, a prepared meal, more love, extra hands, a quiet night, a fun day, a quick nap, a forgiving husband, a whispered answer, more grace and more and more….

 

This time I won’t look at this pending season as plunking down a permanent and helpless tundra into my life. I’ve seen how God’s grace veneers over all the gaps in my parenting, in my marriage, in my life. I hope to honour this new season of a third baby with humility and faith that I had to learn the hard way.

PSALM 127: 1-2 (the Message)

 If God doesn’t build the house,
    the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
    the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves?

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