I've always been a reader. I read every chance I get. My husband even laughs at me because I read books while I brush my teeth. (I figure, I might as well make use of that time!) So, I'm always seeking knowledge, information, reading to grow and learn. A lot of my reading includes books about parenting, as I'm sure many Moms can relate. I've read so many books about training up our children, I couldn't list them all. But, it seems so many of them have 'techniques'. Even many great Christ-centered books have lists of rules about what we should do and how we should do it. 1, 2, 3 and follow these steps and voila! The perfect kid. Follow this recipe and your child will grow up to love God and follow the right path!
All the methods still come down to my earthly performance as a parent. To what 'method' we use. Especially in homeschooling. We're always asking each other that confusing question, "Oh, so what METHOD do you use?" A new homeschooler laughed and confided to me once, "I had no IDEA what that meant..." So I said, "how about: the method where I don't put my kids in school." I couldn't help but burst out laughing.
This week, as I was listening to a sermon by Francis Chan, I was struck with something. He was speaking about all the endeavors we line up for ourselves. "I want to serve food to the hungry, go to Africa and visit the lonely child, reach out to my neighbor, raise my kids for God..." all of which are inherently good things. But, he was asking, when do we just talk to God and tell Him, "Oh, Lord, I just want to dwell in Your house and gaze upon Your beauty"? When do we have time to just BE in Christ?
To dwell long enough with Him that He enters in and fills us up so we can pour out again?
I realized, if we are striving to become more like Christ in our lives, then shouldn't we be striving to become more like Christ in our parenting?
Maybe there is no technique that will solve all the daily spats and crazy parenting adventures - the ups and downs and hard, hard days. There is only One who can guide me in every moment of every day as I strive to raise these children for Him. So, as I read parenting book after parenting book - am I reading THE book that has all the answers? Am I also asking God what His parenting "technique" looks like? Taking a good long look at how our heavenly Father parents us?
Am I entering into the presence of my Lord DAILY and walking with Him as I parent all day long? I mean, really, truly inviting Him in to every moment? Am I showing our children what Christ lived-out really looks like?
Because when we choose to put on Christ and parent in Him, everything changes. Our attitude, our perspective, our priorities, our mood, every little thing.
It's not that parenting literature is bad - I learn so much from many inspiring and knowledgeable Christians who have raised children for Christ's glory! The question is...are we seeking to be like Jesus first and foremost?
Because if we wear Him passionately and stubbornly seek Him, He will make our parenting paths straight and pour His mercy on us. Then, we will be empowered to walk in His freedom and embrace our children as uniquely made, beautiful people. We become the shepherd, walking alongside The Shepherd, following Him at the lead and parenting the best we can through His guidance. Everything else is grace.