“No one seems to have an unkind word to say about our fear these days, unchristian as it is.”
— marilynne robinson
We were talking with some friends the other day about parenting… the frustration, alllllll the emotions, the break-throughs. A comment was made in passing, “I’m just afraid that if he keeps on … then …”
Fill in the blank. It’s a line of thought we’ve all had as parents. Good hopes for our kids — that they be responsible, self-controlled, kind, etc — so quickly distorted in the grip of fear. I’ve been mulling it over ever since… Not a new thought, just a timely reminder :
Nothing good ever comes from my parenting out of fear.
Whenever I’m impatient, irrational, quick to get frustrated, slow to listen. When I start frantically doling out consequences with no softening element of grace. Whenever my mental justification is, “But I’m just afraid they will …” I need to stop right there, and re-adjust.
I read this yesterday on prayer: “realizing that the frenzy is caused by an eagerness for what I want and not a spiritual trust.” And bam. Something clicked. I’m all too familiar with that “frenzy.” This raising of children, and training them in the way they should go… it must be with trust, not just “an eagerness for what I want.”
And so I’ve been pondering this: What does parenting out of faith instead of fear look like in real life? That will be a question I’m forever seeking to the answer to…
Right now, for me, it’s being more conscious of my thoughts in those moments when I’m feeling discouraged or overwhelmed. It’s fighting those lies that whisper, “This will never change. They will never change… you need to fix it right now.” It’s remembering that parenting is a loooong game of being faithful and consistent, not a string of quick victories.
It’s taking the time to listen to the narrative of what happened instead of rushing in, assigning blame and punishment. It’s slowing down (Hard for me to do when I just want an immediate fix). Being quick to extend the grace and mercy I’ve been so freely shown.
It’s setting aside time to identify one area for each child that we’re going to focus on, and coming up with a plan for how to deal with that child in the moment. But it’s not putting hope in those plans. It’s being sensitive to when adjustment is needed.
It’s taking a step back from the grind of the daily struggle to remind myself of the bigger picture…that God is always working, even when I may not see it. That oh, how He loves us. It’s resting in the reality that I am simply called to trust and obey. And doesn’t it always come back to that? God has given us promises. Let’s cling to them and remind ourselves and our children of them. He is faithful.