Remember my kids? The little ones who birth stories you read here, and here, and here. And here (almost forgot about that last one). Well, they are now giants that are taking over my planet. I just thought you should know.
People say they'll grow up and, of course, they do. But I can't figure out when it happened. I walked into church last Sunday carrying my purse and nothing… and no one… else. Juliette refused to hold my hand or let me carry her, opting instead to plop along behind the rest of the crew as they ran inside. She didn't even look back to see if I was coming along behind her.
Mind you, they're still young. A few still need help getting dressed, in the bathroom, getting washed up proper in the tub, and certainly changing the last of the diapers. In fact, they still need help with most all things from dishing up food, to cleaning up messes, to staying focused on the tasks at hand. They are certainly far from independent.
But there are glimpses of it, that make me equally nostalgic and joyful. Nostalgic for the time that I spend with them in my belly, on my chest, and in my arms. It's hard to forget the years and years and YEARS my body has devoted to caring for them in such an intimate way. But that's gone now. My womb is empty. Sad. Also not sad when you remember being nine months pregnant all too clearly.
The fact of the matter remains that we have been blessed with four little beautiful creatures to love and care for which is, by far, the hardest journey I've ever taken. And we're still the beginnings. But here's the thing – I don't want to just raise children who grow up to be good citizens that contribute positively to society. That's not my goal in all of this. My goal is intertwined with One far greater and is defined by a journey far harder.
As Rosario Butterfield explains in her book, the life of a Christian is a bloodbath.
Dramatic for suburban America, but certainly not for the history of Christianity. My children belong to a heritage that extends far beyond our family and our home – a heritage that is as rich and deep as the night sky. We sing Psalms and pray prayers that bind us to centuries of Christians before us, who both like and unlike us, faced persecution and martyrdom. Controversial as it may be, I am raising my children up to be arrows for God's army. And that, my friends, is no small task in today's culture.
But I'm not at it alone. God weaves his mercies throughout our days and the Gospel is continually brought to light in our interactions. To hit your knees in front of your children, apologize for your actions or attitude, ask for forgiveness, and hear “Of course I forgive you. Just like God forgives us because of Jesus.”. Well, that's the whole point.
These children are being raised for God's army despite me. And hallelujah for that! As my pastor often reminds us “The Lord delights to draw straight lines with crooked sticks.” I am so imperfect in my parenting it's disgusting, yet the Lord shows great mercy in dealing with the sick and lowly. After all, that's who Jesus came to save.
It's only because of this promise that I can march on steadfast in my parenting. If I was earthly focused on creating productive citizens, I probably would fret more over the booger walls, lack of focus, bickering, and selfishness. These are traits to be worked on, for sure, but I know that Jesus came for those in need of a savior. And selfishness, deceit, idolatry, and dishonesty only scratch the surface of my heart and my children's hearts.
You know those moments behind closed doors as a Mom where you're hitting your head against a wall and thinking (@[email protected](%&!*!()@*#!!!!!!!!”. I've been there so often it's embarrassing.
We need to be reminded of the Gospel in this house. All day. Every day.
Yes, you're a sinner and always will struggle as such. But God is at work in you. God loves you. God sent his Son to live and die in your place so that you can stand before a Holy God and be counted as righteous. When God sees you, he doesn't see your failings. He sees his Son whom he loves.
I'll take that promise all the way to the bank, my friends.
And so we march on. Raising our children to recognize sin and the pain that causes in the world and in ourselves, recognizing that there is grace that extends far beyond that sin, and that complete – totally complete – forgiveness can always be found in Jesus.
What a joy that brings to parenting.