It was the most time consuming, tedious, and tiresome Christmas present he had ever assembled. Oh, the memory. We had to hide the tremendous box away at a friend's home until the children were nestled and snug in their beds that Christmas Eve many years ago. It was all planned out. We would stay up all night if that was what it took to complete this huge project. It was our children's first swing set!
The unusual temperature of that billowy night is a memory I know I will never forget. And I know my dear husband especially will always remember the blistering cold as he labored in love to make the boy's dreams of a swing set a reality. John worked all night and finally completed the project exactly five minutes before they awoke Christmas morning. Whew! That was close!
One reason it took so long to assemble the swing set was that it had so many parts with so many screws. John had to follow the directions carefully, step by step, in order for the swing set to turn out a success. How much like this scenario can we compare parenting? How many times have we asked and searched for methods, formulas, and directions on how to raise our children? The questions start from the time time the parents find out they are expecting a new baby and continue until the child is launched into adulthood.
Wouldn't it be great if all new babies came with an instruction manual that gave step by step directions for that child's life? It would list the brand of diapers that baby should wear, the method of feeding, how to get him or her to sleep through the night at two months old. Then, as you move through the manual you will be instructed as to how to potty train that child and at what age. Later on, you would know for sure whether you are to send your child to public or private school, or even be home schooled. In addition, you would know what discipline techniques work best for this child. At adolescence you would already be well informed as to how to deal with fluctuating hormones,insatiable hunger, and conflicting attitudes. Then the final chapter would guide you to the exact plan for that child after graduation. Everything worked and you are now ready to launch your young adult into life with confidence because you know you stuck to the book and did it all right.
There are so many resources available for parenting that it makes my head spin when I go that section of a book store. Everyone wants a method and a formula for making their children turn out successful. We must be very careful not to try and fit our children into a formula or a method. There is only one equation for all of life and that includes our journey in parenthood.
(Trust in the Lord)+ (with all of your heart)- (leaning on your own understanding)+ (all your ways acknowledging Him)=GOD DIRECTED PATHS. Proverbs 3:5-6
In other words, if we lean upon our own understanding by seeking the perfect method and leaning upon that to work, then we are trusting in something other than the Sovereign God who has the written plan of that child within His safe keeping. Flipping through books, searching the web,and asking other parents are all great sources and we need to take advantage of trustworthy resources. However trusting in anything above the wisdom of our all knowing God makes them idols in our search to be the best parents we can be.
In addition to idolatry , we must also realize that we are harming our children by leaning upon methods and formulas. If we become so fixated on putting together the right ingredients in order to parent successfully, then we are led to relate to our children as if they are projects on conveyor belts. Unfortunately, this causes breakdown in relationship with our precious children. The inner knowing and discernment of children are very keen. Therefore, they sense when we are relating to them in this way. It damages our bond with them as they will feel like we care the most about how they will turn out rather than loving them right now.
God cares about how we all turn out. This is why He came upon this earth as a man to die and save us from an eternal death. However, He delights in us daily just as we are and never makes us feel as though we are His projects just to be completed so that He can be praised for His wonderful accomplishments. We must constantly examine our hearts as parents and repent for trusting in sources other than the Source Himself.
God so loved the world that he sent Jesus. He calls us to love above all other noble things we can do. This will lead us into the next articles which will be centered on trusting the Lord and looking to Him to be the best parent we can in His eyes. We are called to trust in HIM alone.