I think we’d all agree that the practical responsibilities of parenting are hard work, but what I find infinitely harder than the day in and day out things that are required of me is being the kind of parent I desire to be. Having a loving, kind, patient, joyful and thankful heart in the big and small stuff — now that’s the real challenge!
Take the other day, for instance. It was a very difficult day at the end of an awful, terrible, no good, very bad week. While I was driving in the car on this particularly trying morning, an “unnamed child” was yelling at me from the back seat because his pants weren’t tight enough, his shoelaces weren’t tied correctly, his shirtsleeves were too long, and the sky was too blue.
Gripping the steering wheel tightly while using up every last ounce of self-control left in my body, I begged, “Lord, you have got to change my son’s heart!”
And in that heated moment, the very words that pierced the chaos swirling around in my head were: “Jeannie, let’s start with yours.”
These gentle words of conviction reminded me that in order to bear the fruit of God’s love, I have to be attached to the vine.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
Jesus is showing us that apart from union with Him, our lives will not- cannot - produce the fruit of His Spirit. We must be relying on Him! We can’t, but Christ in us can!
Rather than expect us to rely on our fragile strength and depleted resources, Jesus empowers us with His Spirit to bear the fruit of His love in the work we’ve been called to do. And in this case, the work we are talking about is parenting, the hardest but most rewarding work there is.
If we want to give our children the best parts of ourselves, we must accept the Lord’s invitation to us in Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus says, to you and to me:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The rest Jesus is speaking of here isn’t simply a good long nap. Although that would be fantastic too.
Jesus invites us to bring our worn-out and depleted hearts to Him and “get away with Him”- not for a pep talk on how we can do more to be better parents- but to learn how to live lightly and freely in the power He gives to us and the fruit He produces from us.
This is not to suggest that we will not still have hard, sometimes painfully hard days, when all we want to do is run and hide where no small child can find us. Of course we will have hard days. Parenting, like life, will have its difficult days, trying weeks, and challenging seasons. But God’s Word assures us that a branch that is attached to the vine will “bear much fruit.” This means that even in the very hard days, when we know we have nothing left in us, we can rest assured that Jesus in us does.
Are you burned out? Running on fumes? Friend, go to God. He is waiting for you! And He is faithful to His promises!