Friday, February 21, 2014

Relax. Being the World's Best Parent Isn't Good Enough

Let me introduce you to the Hoodie Brothers.  They look cute, right?  The picture doesn't do them justice.  There's much more to these kids than meets the eye.  Sometimes, I call them my three little angels.  Much of the time though, they live up to their nickname, my three hoodlums.  And, I promise, I say that with the most love.  Let me explain.  Maybe you can relate?

I am a mom to these three growing boys, ages ten, seven, and two.  Even before I held them, I loved them.  It was unlike any other love I had ever felt in my lifetime.  And kissing their fresh from Heaven cheeks and holding their sweet tiny fingers in mine for the first time, well, I just knew they were each  perfect gifts, little miracles, from the good Lord.    

I dreamed about being a mommy for most of my life.  I had spent hours playing "house" with my sister.  I LOVE children.  I was THE babysitter everyone wanted as a teenager.  I grew up and got schooled in psychology and kids.  I understood them and how their little minds worked (so I thought).  I became a teacher, and don't you know that makes me extra qualified to be a parent?  If anyone was going to be good at this whole parenting thing, it was going to be me.  I just knew it. 

I think I probably need to go ahead and come clean right now.  Not only was I certain that I would be good; but in my pre-parent years, I would watch other parents and think about all the ways I could and would do it better.  

Yep, I really did that.  I am cringing as I type.  

I actually made mental lists of parenting dos and don'ts---all the things I said I would NEVER do and all the things I said I'd ALWAYS do when it was my turn.  I read all the books.  I was highly motivated, and I was determined to be prepared.  I wanted to make sure I was the WORLD'S BEST mom.

Then, one day my turn came.  I brought one, two, and three little bundles of joy home from the hospital.  And along the way, we even experienced the loss of another bundle of joy who never made it into the world because God needed him/her more than we did.

So ten years later, I am writing as a parent who knows better and DEFINITELY not best.

To all who read this blog post-- parents by blood and parents defined by loving care, first timers and many timers, hope-to-be parents and parents by surprise, maybe one day parents and even those who say the parenting thing isn't for you, this post IS for all of you.

Every child is a gift, a beautiful reward in this crazy life we live.

And like any gift, you have to unwrap it and hold it in your arms to really know what you've been given, right?

The thing about kids (especially boys) I quickly realized, is that from the second you unwrap them, they are likely to pee and even poo all over, reaching places you didn't think was humanly possible.  I mean that, literally and figuratively.

Seriously, parenting is A LOT harder than it looks.  It's much easier SAID than DONE.

I have to admit it.  I have caught myself doing so many of the things I said I would NEVER do as a parent, and I have failed to do just as many of the very things I said I would ALWAYS do.

The hard part is, I have found anyway, it's much easier to mess up as a parent than it is to get it right.  And no matter how much of my heart I put into it, it doesn't keep me from being the "world's worst" parent at times or from having "the world's worst" kid at other times.  Some days are are just full of poo-poo no matter how much I try.

It's my hope that you will be inspired by my own short-sightedness.

I want you to know (if you don't already), it's okay.  When you find yourself in some "world's worst" moments (because we all do), it doesn't mean you are a bad parent.  Being a parent means, not only are we guaranteed to have issues, our kids will have issues too.  Everything we go through (yes, everything) as parents is part of something bigger and more wonderful than anything we could ever ask for or imagine.   

See, I was so focused on being the perfect parent that I was completely unprepared and ill-equipped for the life-long test of my faith that parenting really is. 

I realized along the way that being the WORLD'S BEST parent isn't good enough.  The worldview of parenthood is way too limited, misleading, inconsistent, ever-changing, and lacking in truth.

All of us, whether we like it or not, are just a bad day and a little hoodlum away from being the very parents we never thought we could or would be. 

But before you go and do anything crazy like run away, get fixed, or vow to never have any children of your own, keep reading.  

Here's the parenting truth.   

Parenting isn't about how much you know, how talented or skilled you are, or even how much experience you've had.

No matter how much we try to raise our kids "right," they will always find a new way to catch us off guard, break the rules, and force us to limits beyond what we thought was humanly possible.  And no matter how devoted we are to being the BEST parents, we will continue to mess-up horribly.  

It's part of our imperfect human nature.

When we are determined to go after superhero, perfection status, we fall short every single time.  That's because we are chasing something that doesn't exist in real life.  It's impossible, unhealthy, and self-defeating for us to think like that. 

At some point or many, we reach the end of our parenting ropes.  We find we're all out of tricks.  We've tried all we know to try.  We've given it all we've got.  And we realize, it's not enough.  I think that's the whole, real point of parenting.

That's right.  Parenting isn't about how good and perfect and able we are at the job.


Parenting is about how good God is.

God is the only one who knows BEST.  

That's exactly why He blesses us with the kids we call ours.  Our kids are hand-made, by Him, purposefully for us.  They are a reflection of us.  Like little mirrors, they show us who we really are.  Those buttons our kids know just how to push in us are the very buttons God knows need pushing in order to draw us closer to Christ, our Savior, to strengthen our belief in Him, and to remind us How much we need Him.  

As Christians, we tend to be the worst of the "world's worst" parents.  We put way too much pressure on ourselves trying to be "like Christ" for our children.  We erringly think that's how our kids come to know Christ.

Well, I have to tell you, that's a problem for me.  If my kids come to know Christ in my own fleeting moments of near perfection, they won't ever know Christ well at all.  Without knowing it, they remind me, again and again, situation after situation, how un-Christ-like I am.

See, I had it all wrong.  Good parenting isn't about how I love my children but how God loves me and you.

Kids are our Heavenly Father's way of helping us to know better, the amazing, powerful, divine love He has for each of us.  We are all His Children.

We have to relax.  We can't take ourselves so seriously.  We need to take God seriously instead.

Our children don't come to know Christ and His perfect love in the middle of those rare moments when we are closest to perfect.  Those times don't leave much room for God's grace.

Our children come to know Christ when they can actually see and feel God's grace at work.  Instead of spending so much time trying to be perfect like Christ, we need to spend our time showing our kids how to let Christ work in us, for us, and through us.   

So, the next time you have one of THOSE DAYS; you know the ones I am talking about when your sweet little angel turns into a scary little devil and you become the parent you never thought you'd be...

I had one of those days last Thursday.  My beloved, artistic child painted the carpet blue, flooded the hallway with his dirty paint water while trying to clean it up, and caused so much commotion in the house that my cell phone ended up drowning tragically in the bottom of the bathtub.  Yep, all of that really happened to me in one day, conveniently, while my husband was working late.  It wasn't pretty.  Neither was my response, to say the least. like I was saying, when it's one of THOSE DAYS for you, no matter what, remember the good news and trade in your own powerless and insufficient superhero cape for the full armor of God.

Our worst moments are the very ones in which God has the most room to do what He does best-  work in you, love on you, redeem you, and give you His power.  

In Christ, we all have a chance to let God transform our worst moments into our very best.  We have to quit trying so hard and pray more.

The same child who paints the carpet blue, floods the hallway, and kills my cell phone is the same child who is a reward meant just for me, my perfect little gift from the good Lord above.

When our kids witness God's grace in us, they will come to know that Christ is at work in them too.

All I have to do is look into the eyes of my little God-given miracles, and I know God's point in this whole parenting thing.

I didn't know I could love so much.

And yet, I also know God loves me and my children even more that, so much more in fact

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

I thank You for children everywhere and especially Your Son, Jesus, my Lord and Savior.  It is so good to be Your child, to grow in Your love, and be made perfect in Christ.   

I pray for my child(ren) today ______________________ .  Help me to draw close to You and show them the power of Your love and grace that is at work in me.  Give me Your peace and Your patience.  Guide me, Lord, with Your Holy Spirit and forgive me for all the ways I mess-up as a parent.  Make me better than I could ever be on my own.

I celebrate my best moments with You, and I ask that You use my worst moments for good and Your glory.  

Be with all who read this post-  parents by blood and parents defined by loving care, first timers and many timers, hope-to-be parents and parents by surprise, maybe one day parents and even those who say the parenting thing isn't for them.  I pray Your blessing upon each and every one of them.  May this post inspire their hearts in some way.

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit I pray,

Love of Christ,

 *This post is inspired, partially, by a wonderful book, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connect Your Family to a Wider Community by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof.  It's worth reading!

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