Not long ago, while in the midst of a parenting "challenge," my husband reminded me that parenting is to shape the child, but, maybe more importantly, parenting shapes us, the parents. As Christians, God uses parenting to make us different, better, more like Himself.
1. Parenting Helps Us Develop the Fruit of the Spirit
I told someone this past Saturday that by the time by youngest is 18 years old, I will be the most patient person on the planet, and I was serious. I taught high schoolers in the public school system. I have worked with all ages of kids in Sunday School, VBS, Children's Church, and the nursery. Nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for a 45 minute temper tantrum because I said, "No." Nothing prepared me for how enraging it can be for a two-year-old to look you in the face and defy you when you are in a hurry to get somewhere. Nothing prepared me for the looks you get carrying a screaming three-year-old out of ToysRUs. Nothing prepared me for cleaning up throw-up on two hours of sleep for the 15th time. Nothing prepared me for the unconditional love that I would have for my boys, and the joy I would have at their successes. Patience, gentleness, self-control -- the Holy Spirit uses parenting to develop this fruit in us. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galations 5:22-23 (ESV)
2. Parenting Shows Us Our Weaknesses
Parenting shows us where we need the Lord to refine us. Do we have anger issues? Worry issues? Control issues? Do we use bad language? When our children start yelling at other drivers, "Hey, jerk!", then we realize we need to watch our mouths. Often, our children mirror us, and we don't like what we see. When we see it, we can take it to the Lord and ask Him to help us, so we can be different and so we don't pass down baggage to our children.
3. Parenting Teaches Us We Are Not in Control
In our brains, we know God is in control, right? Parenting confirms this down to the insides of our bones. Despite parenting books that teach us that we can control our child's behavior if we use their "correct" methodology, parenting makes us realize that we cannot control those little
hellions children. Even harder, we cannot control the child who is bullying our child. We can't heal our child of an illness. We can't make a learning disability go away. We just can't fix everything. Ultimately, God is in control -- of the universe and of our children. Parenting can and should help us rely on God to help us, give us strength, give us wisdom, and give us endurance.
Often, we focus so much on turning out perfect children that we fail to see how God is using parenting to turn us into children who are more like our Father. So, the next time your son talks back or your daughter refuses to eat her dinner or your son whacks you in the face with a pillow when you're not looking, take a deep breath, pray, and ask your Father to give you what you need to be a godly parent, a godly person, a reflection of Him, and, I believe, He will answer.