Maybe I’m the only one, but when it comes right down to it, I sure like to be the one in control. I really wouldn’t deem myself a control freak, per se, yet, truth be told, I want things to go how I want them to go. I want to determine how it all plays out.
Adrian and I are slowly working our way through The Love Dare for Parents. One day a week or so back, we were driving up to DC for our USCIS fingerprinting appointment, a requirement for our adoption.
We went just us, sans kids, but spent the drive talking about each child: their needs, their struggles, their strengths. A conversation which soon led to talk of our needs, struggles, and strengths as parents. We cracked that Love Dare right on open and don’t you know it cracked us right back between the eyes:
Patience is how love diffuses something negative; kindness is how love initiates something positive. One takes a deep breath; the other breathes out life.
I wish I could say this was a picture perfect description of me: breathing life on my children and diffusing the hard, the bad, the ugly moments with wisdom and gentleness.
But it isn’t. It’s really not even close.
As we talked about how not patient we are many days, I started to question why.
Why is it so darn difficult to just take a deep breath and wait it out as my child, still fresh in the single digit ages of life, cops an attitude with me like a hormonal sixteen year old?
Why, when a pint sized but entirely capable pre schooler cries with disgust over his perfectly delicious spaghetti dinner, can I not lovingly (albeit sternly) respond to the tantrum, without having an adult-sized temper tantrum and rant of my own?
And suddenly it hit me why these defiant moments tend to get me so off kilter:
During the few seconds of my child’s meltdown or rude comments or disrespectful behavior, my mind flashes ten years down the road to a teenager gone wild and shutting us out of her life. Internally, a siren goes of, telling me that if I don’t squelch this (little tiny) fire immediately, I’ve lost them. I’ve lost control. I’ve lost.
I think our panic in the moment over who our child will become in the future can lead the most well-intending parent to check their patience and wisdom at the door and respond in fear.
Of course, we greatly shape and mold our children. I don’t minimize our work as mothers, as parents, one bit.
But you know what? At the end of the day, sometimes, even the most perfect mother (that never was) can raise up a child that chooses a wrong road. Why? Because “your sins aren’t enough to keep your child from God and your strengths aren’t enough to get your child to God” (Ann Voskamp).
This morning, this post pretty much summed up all these thoughts swirling around in my heart:
…Life isn’t about controlling things – but about letting God control you.
Parenting isn’t about controlling kids – but about letting God control you.
Parenting isn’t as much about raising the kids — but about laying yourself right down.
You only parent as well as you know your Father.
You only live as well as Christ lives in you.
– Ann Voskamp, 5 Secrets for Every Day 1
Responding in fear and panic never leads to gain for us or our children. Living intentionally means we move beyond reacting and become proactive and prayerful in our life and parenting.
So, mamas, there’s something to the letting go. Loving fierce, planning prayerfully, giving grace, and giving it all up to Him. Every day. Every minute.