Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sweet Serenity

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
~ by Reinhold Niebuhr

I realized today that a shift is happening in my approach to motherhood. I am "calming down" a little and realizing that no matter how hard I pray, work, will, enforce, discipline, (gulp) even yell...these little people are going to go through phases of development that include rebellion, grumpiness and sassiness. Rather than foolishly fight the inevitable (which is clearly fruitless), I will take a deep breath and dive an adult gently guiding them out of it, rather than a fellow fit-throwing toddler who is as (or more) frustrated than they are.

I am realizing that my foolish pride has again been my enemy as I must have somehow believed my children would be exempt from these difficult phases. Surely good parenting could mitigate some of this behavior! (Insert hysterical laughter here.)

“. . .don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (I Peter 4:12)

I once thought coming to this place was akin to giving up. I am beginning to realize it is not surrendering to the children, it is surrendering to reality. And relying on the Sovereignty of God more than the strength of my flesh.

There is not a perfect parent on Earth. The greatest thing we can do for our children is love them and show them the love of God in a real and meaningful way. I am praying that God will let this peace and serenity settle into my heart and become an integral part of my parenting. IT IS NOT NATURAL FOR ME. I am, however, reassured by the Word.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:7

Even as I have chosen to cling to this place of peace, trust and serenity today has presented its own challenges. Again I am reassured that this is all common to the human experience and Christ stands at the ready with a wonderful invitation and promise.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I carry is light” Matthew 11:29-30


Jenny said...

You are always saying exactly what I am thinking. My son turned 3 in September and it has been so hard to let him go and not be a baby anymore. I had no idea there would be so many struggles! Thanks as always for your thoughts - I have NO idea how you have the time to write them down. :-)

Jenny said...

This is good food for thought! I take it so personally when my children are "out-of-line", like it's a true reflection of my parenting ability. Perhaps I need to adjust my thought process a little. From reading your blog a lot, I think we have several things in common regarding "control issues". :) Thanks for this message today!

Tiffany said...

Thank you so, so much for this post! The perfectionist in me, who strives to be the perfect mother, with the perfect children, needed to hear this!-BADLY!

the good, the bad & the ugly said...

When I got engaged, my husband knelt down and washed my feet and asked permission to be a SERVANT leader for me the rest of our lives. Mind you, we are not "wash your feet" kind of people... at all. But it was a symbol of how he would lead our family, following Christ's example. Trying always to lead with a servant, compassionate heart. I use that model a lot with parenting, or at least strive to. It doesn't come naturally, though, for my sinful heart. Thank you for your post. Well said!

HW said...

I recently told my husband "I wonder if the true predictor of a child's future isn't how he behaves NOW, but how his parents REACT to how he behaves."
We certainly hope the right way to react is to accept their behavior as coming from the fallible young people that they are; discipline appropriately;forgive; and keep on loving them. We see so many parents in this teenage phase who continue to make excuses for bad behavior in an effort to minimize it and/or get their child out of punishment. I can't help but wonder if those mistakes are going to increase in size and number if they are minimized.
It's great that you are in a phase of acceptance with your little ones. It is hard not to judge ourselve and feel judged by others when our children misbehave. Believe me, most of us who are past the toddler and preschool phase simply look at a misbehaving little one and say to ourselves "I remember...." And those who don't?
They are big fat liars....

Aunt Boo said...

Hey! I just wanted you to know that one of the girls here at work wanted me to tell you how much this post touched her heart. She is currently going through some of the same things you are and she appreciates the fact that she is not in this alone.


Big Mama said...

Great thoughts, Jen. I'm struggling with some of these some things right now along with some other stuff. I needed the reminder that His yoke is light and His burden is easy.

Room for Grace said...

I too, needed that reminder that "His yoke is light and His burden easy", in parenting and also on the other end with my own parents who are both facing very difficult things right now. I feel so overwhelmed at times with the huge weight of parenting well, and supporting my parents. B/c of your post, I am going to take a few minutes today to sit and rest in the Word.
Love the serenity prayer.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

When my firstborn was two days old, my mother-in-law announced (with the conviction of Moses coming down from the mountain) that she was going to pray that Natalie would never, ever get in trouble, that she would never rebel, that she would always stay sweet and innocent and perfect.

Of course, being a new Mom, I also wished those things for her. But hearing my mother-in-law say it made it seem so ridiculous -- and even wrong. Because to grow up into healthy adults, children need to rebel, they need to question -- even, or maybe especially, their faith.

They are going to screw up and fail and hurt us and disappoint us. It's apart of growing up in our sin culture. Expecting -- or worse, demanding -- perfection from our children is a lose-lose battle.

I'm so glad God doesn't treat me that way.

Great post, J, as always.

Paulette said...

Beautifully well said, J. You are doing an amazing job. We as parents feel the same way except I tell you because I am there now that the hard work does pay off as great parents but you do not see it until they are grown and matured alot.
My motto always: This to shall pass, but for you and hubby you will still have 3 14 and 16 year olds at the same time!!!! So I will keep praying if you keep blogging!!
You are doing great.

Amy said...

You would not believe how very, very much I needed to read this rightthisveryminute. I have been struggling with my 4 and 2 year old and feeling like a toddler myself - with emotions out of control. How very much my precious ones need a parent to guide them through these times by modeling the love of God rather than joining their ranks in a fit of tantrums. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Grace said...

My dear J, thank you for this post. Your honesty and openness are admirable and refreshing. You have a beautiful family, however you never try to produce an 'airbrushed' view of family life. You share the bad times as well as the good times - two things which add up to 'real life'! I pray that God will bless many others through your wonderful gift of writing.