Bless it all, y’all. This morning I studied my way into a whole new view on parenting AND IT HAS FLOORED ME.
When my kids were little, I was tired. Sleep deprived. They were up all night and all day and never coordinated naps or nightmares or thunderstorms or stomach viruses. Sleeping through the night was a long forgotten luxury and my eyes felt like they had sand in them literally every day of my life. Every.single.daaaaay.
And a dear friend who was juuuuuust ahead of me in her own stage of parenting told me “Katie, you can and most certainly always will be tired in parenting. It’s just going to be a different kind.” She went on to explain that as her family had grown out of diaper leaks and nose bulb suctioning and humidifiers, she was now in a season of weary with her emotions. With her spiritual parenting training. With her soul. And I can remember thinking then that if I could just get 6 straight hours of uninterrupted sleep I would be renewed enough to conquer the entire Christian Parenting World AND BLESS MY HEART, I really believed that. Mercy sakes alive, I really didn’t know.
I didn’t know that worrying about hearts and minds and personality traits and habits could be as exhausting as potty training. (Although less messy, hallelujah and amen FOR THAT.) I didn’t realize that training my kids to make good, Christlike decisions would be as tiresome as forcing them to eat their three bites of broccoli off their plastic tractor plates. Finding ways to encourage my kids to sink their roots into a soil that is tended by our Master Gardener is work too, y’all. It’s not the same as watching your toddler button their own jacket or make their own beds for the first time, but it’s got its similarities.
I’m knee deep in Joshua these days and this week I’ve started studying the Israelites conquest of Canaan. I jumped right into Caleb WHO IS THE MAN, and loved every minute of his request in Chapter 14 to take Hebron DESPITE THE LITERAL GIANTS WHO LIVED THERE. He “followed the Lord fully” and conquered the land, drove out the inhabitants and gave his family a safe and secure place to live. Bless.
I moved on though to Chapter 17 and got to the tribes of Joseph’s sons, bless their hearts, who were not as gung ho for the work required to settle their land as God instructed. There were lots of forests to clear and scary people living there with chariots of iron and weapons they didn’t think they’d stand up against. They went to Joshua to ask him if he’d give them more land to settle, AND HE FLAT TOLD THEIR PRECIOUS HEARTS NO. He said “You’ve got great power, the land you’ve been given is yours. Even though it’s a forest, YOU WILL CUT IT DOWN, and you’ll drive out the Canaanites even though they have iron chariots and are strong.” (Loose paraphrase of 17:17-18)
Joshua knew they could do the hard work of making a land that would be safe for their families. He knew it would be hard, he knew it would take lots of work, BUT LIKE CALEB DID, he knew it was possible. And that’s what’s encouraging me today. I haven’t hit the Teenage Age of Parenting and I’m already laying the Thickest Layer of Prayer over that phase, but I also know that today, while I’ve been given these hours and days and seasons with my older, younger PreTeen kids- I can do the work to clear those forests that are trying to spring up in our land too. I can chop down anger and discord and selfishness and fighting. I can root out the desire to scream at one another and can put the attitudes of entitlement and self centered ness straight into the wood chipper. I can clear the land of media and movies and games that would plant seeds of trees I don’t want to have to uproot later. I can stand firm in my fight against influences that would undermine our aim to give our kids a Firm Foundation. And y’all it’s OK to be tired while I’m doing it BECAUSE I SUPER CAN BEEEEEE sometimes.
So whatever phase of parenting you’re in: know that you can chop down those trees right along with me and Ephriam and Manasseh. Because Caleb already showed us that it can be done. Let’s just have some extra coffee and prayers for strength before we pick up our axes, m’kay?
::turns on a second pot of coffee::