When I was a young mom, I had all the answers. I knew how to schedule my babies from day one. My husband and I were marvels in the church with how we could get our little ones to sit so still for an hour and a half service. Our three year old could recite Romans 12 in its entirety. When people would say, "Just wait until they're teenagers," we would take offense. We just knew that teens only acted badly when it was expected of them. We knew that as long as we did what was right all the time, our children would be just like the kids on the front of all of those homeschooling magazines.
#1. My husband & I don't do, nor have we ever done, what was right all the time.
#2. The kids on the front of those homeschooling magazines have struggles of their own.
Our oldest is now a teenager and his sisters are not far behind. Not only do I no longer have all the answers, I often think that I don't have any answers! Getting our three year old to sit perfectly during church doesn't seem that important anymore. Instead, I pray that God gets a hold of my heart and the heart of my older children.
Let me say now that we are not dealing with major rebellion. There are seeds, though. Probably seeds that are found in every young "plant" in every home. The seeds we were warned about with those "just wait" comments, but refused to believe.
The other night, I was at my wits end. I had no idea what to do anymore. Lectures aren't working. Yelling is obviously not the key, though I keep trying to force it into the lock. Threats prove to be only temporary fixes. So, Saturday night found me in the place where thousands of parents before me have found themselves - on my knees begging God for wisdom.
As a result, today I completed my first 24-hour fast in years. I have always been happy to have the excuse of gestating or lactating to avoid fasting. My body hates it. I always have found myself more distracted by how hungry I am and how badly my head hurts than focused on prayer. Last night and today were different. I was praying for, what basically amounts to, the souls and future of my children. I was praying for myself. My morning prayer resembled Solomon's request. Oh, I desire compassion and love in my heart; but above all, I desire wisdom. Wisdom will change me. Without change in my life, in my attitude, in my actions, my children will never change.
Wisdom will enable me to release control to God. I refuse to make my children follow God. If I make them do so, they are not following God, they are following me. They will follow me right up until they leave our home; then they will follow the devil. I have never been one to make my children read their Bibles. I do tell them often to go read or ask them if they have read, but it is rare that I quiz them on it. I have known many families where reading the Bible is mandatory and the children are as ungodly as the heathen who has never cracked open the Good Book. I was never made to read my Bible - yet it is an important part of my life. I know it is the right thing to do. I know it is an essential part of my walk with the Lord. It is not always what I want to do, but often it is by deepest desire. That is what I want for my children. To WANT God. To want to serve, follow, and obey Him. It is not my desire that they read their Bible or memorize verses out of fear, duty, or even obedience to me.
That is where the wisdom is so direly needed. I need to live and teach in such a way that my children will desire to live for God and to do good and have good character. I need to be a light that shines on a path that, though not always easy, beckons them to follow as well. Oh, I could easily make a list of rules, consequences, schedules, etc., to mandate correct behaviour. However, that is not how God works with me. He won me by His love & grace. I am asking Him for wisdom in exemplifying that same love & grace to my children...His children.
In a way, I am glad I no longer have all the answers. I have come to that time where I now have to lean on the One who does. To those parents who are older than me and knew all along where I would end up, thank you for your patience. To those parents younger than me and think you'll avoid this time...just wait. Someday, you'll get to be held up by our Father's loving arms, too.