Tuesday, June 24, 2008

God tells us in Isaiah 43:1-3a of his intimate care for his children. Then, he tells those of us who are his children not to fear.

Why did he tell us this? Perhaps, it is because it is our human nature to look at the circumstances of life and to become afraid. We so easily forget that God promised that he will bring his children safely through trials and will lead mothers and their young to heaven.

Isaiah 40:11 is perhaps my favorite verse when it comes to motherhood:

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them gently in His bosom. He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
If you are God's child, Jesus walks with you in your parenting. He carries your children. He gently leads you! Isn't that a comforting thought? We can rest in that.

The admonition "Fear not" is especially important to wives and mothers. (I Peter 3:1-7). Have you ever noticed that when you learn you are going to have or adopt a child, you find things that you could worry about that you never thought of before!! You hear all kinds of information about the dangers of childhood. Your toddler finds things to stick in his or her mouth that you never dreamed of.

Then, new challenges come. Before you know it, they're out there driving in heavy traffic! You couldn't wait to get your own license, but it's a different thing altogether now that your baby has turned sixteen.

If we aren't careful, we mothers can take our eyes off the Lord and turn them to the "what if's" of life. The cure for that is to fear the Lord and not our "what ifs".

I look back now and see how God helped us through so many adventures in life and how he's still working in the lives of our family. It's my sinful nature, though, to be easily distracted with the worries of life. When my children were small, I found out that my mother was dying of a slow and painful disease. The church we were in faced some heavy questions about unity and direction. I was in a minor car accident with my children. Though my children were safe -- praise be to the Lord -- my neck was injured, which set me up for chronic pain. Also, my young and healthy body suddenly faced physical challenges that made me feel older than my years.

In the midst of all that, I found myself not doing as Jesus commanded, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own."

If I was doing dishes, I was thinking how I needed to travel to help my dad with my mother. If I was with my kids, I was thinking of the dishes in the sink. If I was doing something with church, I was thinking about the things that needed doing at home and vice versa.

It wasn't always like that, of course. God gave me many wonderful times of faith and blessing. Still, that sin of worry was definitely a factor in my life.

If I had to do it over again, I'd be more in the moment. I'd would trust more in God's love and meditate more on passages such as Isaiah 43:1-31 and Isaiah 40:11. I would focus on whatever I was doing in that moment and let the next task worry about itself. Those moments with our young children are so precious, and they pass so quickly. We don't want to spend those moments in distraction, which is what worry is.

To overcome this tendency takes a growing faith and trust in God. I think we as women underestimate the effect that having a faithful, gentle, and calm spirit has on our household, on our neighbors, our friends, our extended family -- on all the people with whom we interact. (I Peter 3:1-7). God says this calm and gentle spirit is beautiful in his sight. Even if we are down to our last mustard seed of faith, God says he can do wonders with it.

Sometimes, we need the help of others to pray for us and to teach us from God's word and their lives how to have this calm and gentle spirit. I know that now, even though my children are adults, I still get advice and help in parenting from my husband and my closest friends in the Lord.

Having faith helps us to set priorities in parenting. If we understand from verses like Isaiah 43:1-3 God's desire to have an intimate relationship with us, we will place our highest priority on helping our children have a great relationship with God and with us. Of course, we want to teach them the practical aspects of life: how to study, how to work, etc. However, we will seek for them Christ's righteousness and his kingdom first. (Matthew 6:33). Our emphasis should be on character and obedience.

Too often young mothers become uptight over issues like potty training, when their child gives up nursing, if they are nursing just right to help their baby, when their baby walks, etc. Later on, they may focus on how their child dresses or make issues of other things.

A good question to ask ourselves as mothers is, "Is this a question of love, faith, obedience, or character? Is it a question of relationship?" If not, is this something I really want to make an issue of? Generally, a child has an inbuilt time for things like potty training, giving up nursing, walking, etc. We may need to help them gently, but these things are seldom issues of character and are generally not worth having battles over.

For example, suppose your child is old enough to make some clothing choices for him- or her-self. The child dresses modestly. However, the child's taste is quite different from yours --at least in this stage of life. If the child is not sinning in the mode of dress, perhaps you might allow them to make some choices you wouldn't make. Kids outgrow fads, anyway. Now, if the child's choices reflect immodesty, impurity, selfishness, undue materialism, or a general attitude of rebellion -- that's another matter.

Enjoy!
Elizabeth

4 comments:

topaztook said...

Elizabeth,

Thank you for this series; I need it right now.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you, Topaz Took.

I usually write out of my own life, so you know it's something I need, too. :)

Lauren said...

Another great one, Elizabeth! I suppose that means I really should let my daughters wear their princess outfits to the grocery store, huh?

Seriously, though, I think it's easy to get overwhelmed by the little things. Thank you for this reminder!

Elizabeth said...

I'm sure your little princesses are darling!