Theo turned two this weekend. For those of you who are not familiar with the average two year-old, this means many things. His opinions are becoming more established. His communication skills are blossoming and it seems like he is saying new words every day. His brain is a sponge soaking up the world around him, constantly learning. He is trying to dress himself, he is sleeping in a big-boy bed instead of a crib, he can even help pick up his toys. Some days he loves baths, other days he screams the entire time.
He mimics his mom and dad. He wants to brush his teeth when we brush our teeth. He “helps” me do the dishes. He loves to watch his dad work in the garage. Oh yeah, and when we yell – he yells too. (We are working on this).
So he is also learning to pray.
We pray before dinner, and he knows to bow his head (with or without a big smirk on his face). We pray before bed as part of the bedtime routine. He usually crawls into his bed with his blanket, lays on his tummy with his sheep pillow, looks up at us, and says “pray?” in his little voice. And so I, or his dad, kneel next to his bed. And we thank Jesus for that day, for trips to the park and riding in the stroller, for ducks, for popsicles, for mommy and daddy and elephants, for Grandma and Miss Jane and Nana and Bump and little brother Remi. And please watch over us while we sleep tonight, Amen.
There is nothing like watching children receive what is given to them. The simplicity is something my frantic adult mind really cannot comprehend. He takes what is given, in faith, just because we are his mom and dad, and he trusts us. He personifies the song that goes “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it”.
My kids, from one moment to the next, can bring out the best and worst in me. And they stare at me with their big eyes while it is all right at the surface for them to see. They are little precious pieces of my conscience and of God’s grace, running around my ankles, tugging at my pant legs and pleading for my attention.
They soften my rough edges, they melt my heart, they make me hope. These little free spirits teach me more lessons than I have ever taken from any book.
Parenting is terrifying. It is teaching me that same old lesson, over and again – the one that says there is indeed a God, and I most definitely am not Him. Right now I am their almighty mom, the meeter of all needs, the provider of juice and snacks and snuggles and coats and time-outs. Right now it is really all very simple, and we can play in the grass together, look at the clouds, pick dandelions, chase ducks.
The world is also terrifying. It is terrifying just as itself, but it is even more terrifying as it relates to my babies being in it. Will they be sucked into some of the awful things that got ahold of me? When I read the news or even browse through my own small little facebook world, it seems like the odds are stacked fiercely against children in Christian homes. Corruption and devastation seem inevitable.
And they would be – if it was all up to me. But since my role in their lives is limited to their mother and does not include also being their Holy Savior, I still like to think that there is hope. As limited and imperfect parents who are also always receiving Grace, we are doing our best to pass on our love and understanding of God to our children, and that is really all we can do. It is indeed a relief to be reminded that the God who pursued me, called me, saved me, keeps me, blesses me, and guides me is the same God who is already there for my children, and He knows exactly what they are to face in this life. And he will not leave them or forsake them, just as he hasn’t left or forsaken me.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I remind myself that this doesn’t read how my selfish nature would like it to, something like, “For your mother knows all things, she will fulfill every need you ever meet in your life, she will direct your path in every way and ensure by her sacrifices that you make it to heaven to be with her forever.” No, I am only to fill the role and responsibility God gives me in their lives. And I am so blessed to even have that role!
So we will keep teaching them, knowing that the time may come when they are not as eager to receive. But God calls us to be faithful and to plant seeds and to tell the truth to everyone, especially our children. My children aren’t mine to keep locked up, clean and spotless, for only my enjoyment. They belong to Him, just like every other person I know belongs to Him. It’s a hard lesson on a mommy heart, but also for anyone who wants to hold on tight while loving the people around them. But God is trustworthy, of that I am convinced. I can entrust all things – even my most precious babies – to Him.
Lord, help me to take to heart the command to entrust everything to you, to cast all my anxiety on you. I know you are trustworthy to care for all persons and things which I cannot uphold in my merely human strength and abilities. Rip from me the delusional, pretending notion that I am more than I am. Help me to love freely and the way you intended with all the people I love, especially my children. Amen.