If you think about it, we give our children many gifts. Yes, physical gifts, but more importantly, we teach them Bigger Truths and Ways to Navigate Life. What is the very best gift that you've given to your children?
Such a great question to ponder. While you are at it, think about how you were parented; what's the best gift that your parents gave to you?
Now, for those of you that don't me, I am an older mom. I have 8 kids and I certainly don't have all of the answers but I do love thinking about questions like those.
I love my children deeply. I never really loved when they were irrational little beings in the 0-4 range, but I have loved the craziness of the teenage years. It is fascinating for me to watch a child go through puberty, becoming a man or woman before my very eyes.
I love the crazy of their thoughts and their actions. I love the way they are influenced by everyone around them and I love the process they go through as they try to make sense of all of the crazy.
Why do I love the teenage years best? Because you and I, as their parents, become super important, in ways they (and probably we) cannot even comprehend.
One of the best ways we can be there for our maturing children is showing up for them in all areas of their life, including the hidden parts, which we have dubbed their "below the line" parts. If you are not sure what I mean by that, take a moment and read this:"What It Means to Parent Below the Line."
"Parenting Below the Line" is such a grace-filled way to parent, showing up and being present for our kids in very real ways. I love that. So so so much.
Now, friends, as we parent our children in that way, allowing them to be vulnerable with us (and us not freaking out), they will KNOW, in their heart of hearts that they are loved unconditionally because well, it's not always pretty down below the line. Seeing all of that AND STILL LOVING our children is the gift given.
And believe me, they will receive that gift gratefully. That breeds a deep sense of security and allows them to trust that GOD will love them no matter what. And when that happens? Their lives will ignite. And they will set the world on fire.
SO. Learning how to Parent Below the Line is absolutely worth doing. (But that's not the gift that I am referring to in the title of this post...keep reading!)
Now, when I first became a mommy I absolutely wanted strong kids. I wanted to have kids that knew their self worth and that DID explode in the world. I mean, what parent would not want that?
How I thought that would occur: by me sheltering them. There were times that I actually wanted to move my kids to some remote island where they could just roam free and frolic in the ocean without the influence of the world wide web and all of the negative influences infiltrating their pure little hearts.
Since that was not an option, then I bought into the idea that I could some how, some way, create The Perfect Environment which was incredibly safe and sheltered for my bambinos, where sin and evil would never get in. That sort of environment, I was sure, would yield The Perfect Children.
Now, on the surface, I still want that. It mean, it still seems like the way to go, right? Shelter. Create Safe Homes. Keep evil out. Sounds legit.
What I have learned: No fortress or wall can truly keep sin out because if you think about it, sin's not really an object. It's actually something that is pretty much within us.
How to combat something from within? Well, with something that is bigger AND within.
So instead of being overly concerned with the messed up world and trying to get all of the "outside" stuff in place to protect our family from all of that corruption, I want my husband Russ and I to parent our children with a phenomenal confidence in God, knowing He is big enough to help each of us overcome our own personal corruption. He can give us peace. And Joy. Vision and acceptance and grace.
Now, I am not exactly sure how the spiritual world works, but I am thinking that Jesus shows up for us in the way that He is invited. SO...if we think of Jesus as only being a really nice guy, super meek and mild, He's going to show up in our life as Mr. Rogers, kind, gentle and forgiving. Great. I love that, of course. But I cannot imagine Mr. Rogers truly FIGHTING for me. Having coffee with me, yes. But protecting me? Hmm...
But if I sit back and think of Jesus as a Fierce Warrior who has come to rescue me? Well, that changes pretty much everything in my life.
So this is my prayer: "Jesus. You have AUTHORITY over the entire world. You are sovereign. You are Almighty. The Lord of All. Conqueror. You have defeated EVIL so therefore, I expose this evil that is in my life and I ask YOU to help me conquer it. In Your Holy Name, Jesus Christ, I take authority over this particular sin that is currently influencing me. Come, Lord. Come and be with me. Give me Your Power to overcome. Right here and right now."
TRUSTING. CONFIDENCE in God. Exposing the evil. That is how we overcome our own sinful ways.
I trust that He will show up in the way that I invite Him.
As I apply that concept to my parenting. I am no longer so keyed in on the OUTSIDE IN type of approach. Now, that doesn't mean I have stopped having boundaries or discipline. We have to be wise and shrewd in our parenting. I am not going to just hand my child (at any age) an unfiltered device or let them wear whatever they want to wear or go wherever with no curfew.
But I no longer live in this constant state of fear, thinking that all of this sin is going to come in and attack my kids. I no longer think I need to put a big fence up to protect my children from the big bad world. The tendency towards sin in already in them. I mean, really. I actually think it's kind of bizarre how we do this thing: We know our own sinful struggles but somehow we think our children won't have those same struggles. I was talking to a mom recently and she was sharing how overwhelmed she felt with her children's choices. I asked her if she had ever struggled with those types of sins. She looked at me and goes, "Oh, yeah. Big." So I asked her, "Was God big enough for you?" She smiled and I said, "He's big enough for them, too. Trust. And pray."
My job is to teach them to lean on GOD. God is over all. He is big enough and powerful enough for us.
That excites me. God is big enough for me. He's big enough for my husband and my kids. And yes, we are all on the journey of bringing that understanding deep within ourselves and allowing it to take root. I sometimes feel like I am a 55-year old infant in the spiritual world. But I am continually open and I am craving more and more of Christ. I am continually working on letting go of my need to control and be right and be self-sufficient. It's a daily battle. But I know that Jesus is in me and He is big enough to help me in that daily.
There are many gifts that I can give to my children. But the one that gives that incredible hope in the future and in themselves? This:
Can I get an Amen??
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