Your Parenting Struggles Are Opportunities to Choose
Frustrations and disappointments have a way of taking on a life of their own and overwhelming us. They distort our perspective and can even cause despair or depression.
Take being a mom, for example.
It never dawned on me before I had my first child that I wouldn’t have a clue about seemingly simple mommy tasks.
Enter Rebekah, my first born.
I quickly realized that I had no idea:
- How sick I would be in pregnancy. I mean sick. Constant vomiting. Like in and out of the hospital for dehydration sick. Like drink sips of Coke if I even want to get out of this bed sick.
- How to breast feed a baby. I love, love my babies and still do, but breast feeding was just miserable for me–all five times. I know, it’s horrible to say, but it’s true. I’ve never been so sick or uncomfortable in my life. AND yes, I had LLL help.
- How to establish a sleep/wake cycle. Don’t they just sleep at night?
- How to discipline a child. Need an adjective? Clueless. That was me. I had no idea how hard this aspect of training would be. Like full-time job hard.
- How to communicate in marriage about parenting. Peter and I had two different communicating styles (artist/accountant) We loved each other but had many frustrating discussions! We were also on two different pages when it came to parenting. We had to figure out how we were going to raise these kids.
Looking back, these little thing, these road bumps and discouragements, were not the end of the world, but instead were opportunities for me to grow in grace. They were opportunities to choose. Would I trust or worry? Would I freak out or pray? Parenting is sanctifying work. God wants to conform us into the image of His Son through these hardships, but we have to agree to the work.
And, younger mom, disappointments are not without purpose. A God-ordained purpose.
They should make you look up and ask yourself Where is Jesus in all of this? He’s here, in our everyday stuff. In fact, He has allowed these little things to shape you. He’s using today to mold you. Your decisions today make you the person you’ll be tomorrow. Will you respond with humility and trust, or with anger and self-reliance?
One lesson I’ve learned in the past 10 years is that trust does not just happen. You have to do some ugly work. You must confront worry and fear and call it what it is: unbelief and doubt in God’s supremacy.
A fitful, worrisome 20-something woman becomes a fretful, anxious 30-something if she doesn’t change course. She must submit her emotions and mind to the clear teaching and truths of God’s word.
Joanna Weaver in Having a Mary Spirit says it this way:
“We have a choice. We always have a choice. Either we can trust the Spirit’s leading, or we can insist on going our own way. But let me tell you, only one choice leads to life. The other marks a gradual descent toward spiritual death, for no one can refuse God’s will and prosper.”
Trusting God will draw you closer to Him each time you trust. Step by step, laying down your rights one decision at a time. Fear and insolence may raise up it’s ugly head, but you put it under the Lordship of Christ and tell it no. You are walking in the Spirit and abiding in His word.
Each instance of trust and obedience to God and His word helps loosen the self-made chains of bondage. Each expression of “Yes, Lord–You run my life!”, each act of brokenness before the One who made you yields more of the peaceable fruit of righteousness. It changes us. It’s when we hang on to the Vine we really live. Apart from the Vine is death, dryness, futility,because we know that apart from Him we can do absolutely nothing but fail and fall.
So, where are you a failure right now?
Can I just encourage you to see your failure as an entrance for the grace of God? A catalyst God uses to draw you into deeper dependence on Him and to open the floodgates of blessing in your life? Limitations help you to cling to Christ.
It’s sink or swim. And the scary part is that you get to choose your “savior.”
You can choose the floatation devices of this world if you want. They’re fun, bright and readily available. They’re inexpensive and they have popular characters emblazoned on them. Everyone at the pool is using them.
But blow up toys were never meant to be used as life preservers. They even came with that that warning. They last for about a week before losing air and buoyancy.
If you are a Christian, God is not going to let you exist for long on your toy float. He’s not accustomed to giving us toys that are unsafe and unsteady. He knows that they are ultimately patch-jobs, and He is the Ultimate Life Preserver that you need.
Trust is something that comes hard for us. We say we trust God but our actions betray our words. A trusting heart is one at rest and motherhood was a catalyst for so many fears that peace was constantly elusive to me.
In my tired, frustrated, anxious mind, I had little room for trust. I had to get this thing right. I only had one shot at these kids. I have to train them in the way they should go. I, I, I.
I sometimes forgot that these kids were souls that God loved more than I ever could. He could use me, yes, but this was never about me. On my good days, my thought process was His Word will not return void. He is able to make all grace abound to me. He is my Shepherd, and my kids Shepherd today and every day and He’ll lead us! He is able to do all that He promised to do. Him, Him, Him. I should have clung to my Life Preserver and dropped the toys.
Raising kids is about God’s glory.
It is. Every work we do is for His glory. We can do years of motherhood for the wrong reasons and many of us have. We mother out of fear instead of faith. We mother to get approval from others and other twisted reasons.
I have this quote from a Thabiti Anyabwile sermon written in my Bible as a reminder when I find my motives for life falling short of God’s glory. Read it slowly, because it’s a good one:
To care more about anything less than the supreme glory and honor of God is in itself cosmic treason. It is to abandon God’s own agenda for Himself, namely, to be glorified among the nations, and to choose some lesser ends than what God Himself has appointed.
Disappointments and trials are ministry opportunities.
2 Corinthians 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, or our affliction…
we were burdened excessively so that we despaired even of life, indeed we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivereth us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.
God will use your trial so that you can help someone else. And that is a beautiful thing. God doesn’t waste your pain and frustration, but remakes it into something useful and helpful.
Are you feeling like a failure today in some area? Where are you going for help? Can you find an older Christian mom who can help you navigate the waters a little more clearly while you are feeling discouraged? What can you do today to make sure you’re clinging to the right savior? Tell me, if you want, in the comments. I’ll be sure to reply.