“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Summer is a welcome break in routine. Relaxation. Laughter. Sunshine. Fun. But soon after the regularity that our children are accustomed to comes ends, their health can take a brief nose dive.
To all of the moms exhausted by long summer days and seasonal viruses… take heart. Through prayer, we can regain our strength and help our little ones return to fun in the sunshine.
Father, praise You for summertime. We long to stretch our legs and run the entire length of the long days that the season of summer brings. The flowers bloom, the grass turns green again, and everything seems to come back to life. In Your time, all things work for the glory of Your good. From the changing of the weather, to the seasons of our lives. Praise Your eternal and all-encompassing grasp on the minutes of our lives.
Thank You for the joy that children bring to us, as they scamper barefoot in the grass and rescue worms chased onto the sidewalk. The familiar smell of a hard summer rain causes us to smile as we watch our kids run freely through the downpours that cool off the hot summer pavement. There is a joy in letting go of bedtimes for campfires and firefly chases. Through our children, we are reminded of the simple tones of happiness that rest in the humid days and starry nights of summertime.
Up the stairs she stomped, quickly followed by a slamming door. Once again, I had let my least favorite characteristics bubble to the surface and rain down over my tween. Placing trust in the fickle fade of aggravated feelings hurts our kids and our confidence. Paul assures us that our sinful desires wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). Moms like me who have taken the bait and engaged in an argument with their child know exactly what Paul speaks of in Romans 7:15. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Fickleness, defined by dictionary.com as “likely to change,” is not a reliable source by which to gauge our decisions to parent. God, on the other hand, is reliable, constant, omnipotent, sovereign, and patient. In my life, I’ve found it impossible to maintain any of the parental behaviors I aim for without a solid foundation of God’s truth to instruct and encourage my heart.
Below are a handful of verses that have helped me prevent, stop, and recover from the moments that I have been tempted to, or have let my fickle feelings rule my parenting. Our children are God’s first. The goal of parenting isn’t to mimic God’s authority, but rather to submit to it in obedience as we lead our children to His feet.
Climbing ‘Parent Mountain’ takes faith. Soon after our newborn babies gaze back at us with the fresh hope of new life, the inventible responsibility crashes into our reality. God knows we feel insufficiently equipped. He created us to rely on Him. The falling feeling of not being able to sink our foot securely into the next step signals us to reach for His hand.
The overwhelming juggle of our own personal growth alongside that of our kin lends our advice to be as imperfect as we are! Where is the peace in that? In Him. To maintain a perfect peace through imperfect lives and rapidly crumbling world, we must place our trust in God’s wisdom. Peace is found in submission to His unchanging authority over our lives. He has gone before us and remains with us.
1. A Clean Slate
The first pathway to peace in parenting is prayer. There’s no way to shortcut around prayer if peace is what we seek. Jesus set the tone in Mark 1:35 by praying first thing in the morning. Getting up early and portioning off that time is a challenge and a sacrifice, but God honors every bit of time we set aside for Him.
Why not pray while we’re brushing our teeth, or making our coffee? Can we roll over after we hit the snooze button and pray God’s blessing over the day? It’s not as hard as we make it out to be. How many of us awake to our smartphones, and find ourselves scrolling mindlessly after we snooze our alarms? When we redirect our roaming thoughts to Him, Peace ushers in.
Many of the most important lessons God will teach us will come out of the adversities of family life. During a battle with bullying, my daughter clung to Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” (NIV) Through her trials, she chose to focus on working hard with the gifts God has blessed her with. Lessons from my 10-year-old. God is not a God of coincidence. We can learn the most about who God created us to be from the people He places in our families.
A pastor at my church recently preached, “You can’t really prove what’s there, but you can show it.” Esther 4:14 immediately came to mind. Watching my child get bullied was painful. I doubted my ability to guide her through it. But He was faithful to remind me, “For such a time as this.” As Esther was made queen, I was made “mom.” You were made “dad …brother …husband …grandpa …sister, aunt …and so on. Let’s take hold of these truths today and pray for the role each of our family members has been blessed by God to live.
“Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” Psalm 96:10
God is unmoved. He reigns. He is omnipotent and sovereign. I know the truth of this verse in my head, but my world has been in complete earthquake mode. All of the wheels typically fall off in May, but this Spring’s combination of heartache and stress have left deep purple circles under my eyes.
“I don’t care …fine!”
The door slammed. Round two, day four. The tween years are rapidly rushing in the gray hair. Life isn’t stopping or slowing down so I can devise a plan of attack. It’s exhausting my emotions and frying my nerves. It’s messing with the amount of sleep I depend on, and interrupting hours when the house used to be quiet enough to unwind. Some nights both kids fall asleep on either side of me- one afraid of something and the other sad about something and we are all too tired to have heartfelt talks about it before we fall asleep.
“Butthole …butthead …” The “butt” themed names continued to trail off as one of my darling children walked away to read her book as physically far away from me as she could get …to roll her eyes and make faces. How dare I tell her she couldn’t have my phone. It’s so great when that happens in front of other people in a public place …it’s my favorite. There’s no willpower, role model or Bible verse that can stop hard seasons and stages. I remember slamming my door off the frame when I was their age, but somehow I thought I had done just enough good parenting to skirt the door slamming issue. The respectful children I have raised are no where to found some days.
On top of parenting two tween girls, life has piled on injury, conflict, difficult decisions, and air thick with drama in unexpected places. Life is going to be life, and if I don’t find a healthy way to handle the curve balls, I will start slamming doors myself. Or end up with stomach ulcers. When all of the hard, sad, trying, annoying, hurtful and overwhelming stuff reaches a certain capacity, I come unglued in prayer. The floodgates of composure open and the tears stream down my face, relying on the power of Jesus’ name (sometimes at very high volume) to pick me up off of the floor. In those moments, He is faithful to remind me I already have Peace.
Remembering is an important part of our faith. Psalm 105:5 says, “Remember the wonders He has done, his miracles …” (NIV) Our memories, answered prayers, and miracles are powerful. “Remember. As a motivation for and focus of worship and the basis for trust- remember how the Lord has remembered.” (NIVSB, emphasis mine.) Compassionate and merciful, He sees us, hears us, and is with us. In the suffering hidden behind our highlight reels, He is palpably present. Psalm 105:39 says, “He spread out a cloud as a covering…” (NIV) to protect His people (NIVSB). His peace shields our hearts.He is constant.
Constant means unchanging, uniform, regular or invariable. It’s continuing without pause or letup. Who, or what, is unceasing? Can we rely on anything to be regularly recurrent, continual, or persistent? Only God is faithful, unswerving in love and devotion. As we ride the waves of this world, He remains steady.
The dark circles under my eyes can be a badge of honor or a burden of despair. In every situation, I have a choice. And I don’t always make it well. I complain, but Christ is constant. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV) The steadiness of Christ is in me. But I sometimes approach life like a roller coaster, strapping in and screaming when I’m scared and laughing when I’m happy. That’s no way to live.
Through all of the chaos, Jesus remains constant. Unmoved. He sees me. He hears me. But I need to pause and remember the peace He died to give me. It’s not an easy world to live in. We will undoubtedly feel like aliens on our own planet many days. We’re placed purposefully by an all-knowing God who promises we’re never alone. Believe Him. Matthew 28:20b says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”