Sunday, September 18, 2016

A hymn for parenting.

"In all your history, has anything like this happened before?  Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation." Joel 1:2-3
"We dilute the beauty of the gospel story when we divorce it from our lives, our worlds, the words and images that God is writing right now on our souls. Your story is enough."  Savor - Shauna Niequist

I've never felt less confident about anything in my life than being a mom.

And that's unusual for me.
I feel confident about almost every choice I make, almost every thing I do.
I don't go back and forth very often;
I'm content to make a decision and then let that be the right one;
I trust my instincts and don't second guess myself too much.

This has been the case for as far back as I remember.
I've always seen things in black and white, right and wrong,
I've always trusted the Holy Spirit inside me as my guide,
and so that's made life fairly simple in most ways.
It's clarified most choices for me.
Black.  White.  Right.  Wrong.

I was a confident student,
a confident teacher...
it only stood to reason in my mind that I would be a very confident, competent mother.

And then I actually became a mother,
and everything faded to a blurry sort of gray.

They were so tiny,
and I wasn't sure why they were crying,
or what they needed,
and I second guessed every single choice.
Breast feed or bottle feed?
Cry it out or feed on demand?
Schedule or unschedule?
When to start solids?
How long do we swaddle?
Pacifier or no?
How many days can they go without actually pooping?

I don't know, it all felt so huge and I felt so inadequate,
and I kept thinking it would get easier and more blackish and whiteish as they got older,
and maybe it did, a bit.

I'm the kind of mom who feels more equipped to handle a tantrum in Target than I do a feeding and napping schedule, so toddler age was a bit more clear for me.
I could solve most things with a snack, or a nap, or a snuggle, or a spanking.
I loved the story times and the singing nursery rhymes as we grocery shopped and the mispronounced words and the newness of all of life's discoveries.

But still, there was the constant uncertainty:
Am I doing this right?

Am I making the right choices,
am I ruining them for life?
Most choices still felt monumental,
and the world at large doesn't help much.
For every piece of advice, there was a contradicting one,
and so the only thing I knew to do was to watch moms who were raising children older than mine, find the ones who were ending up with kids that I wanted mine to be like, and try to soak up every bit of wisdom they would share.

But now, suddenly, without asking my permission,
mine are both school aged.

And I feel again like they're infants,
and I don't ever stop for a second to think or breathe
because the schedule is so full
and someone always needs something
and am I even doing this thing right?

And the choices really are bigger now;
the decisions really are shaping their little lives.
How I answer their questions,
how we deal with their struggles,
what we say yes to, what we say no to,
the culture we create as a family....
it all matters.
They'll remember this part,
and honestly, some days, my highest goal is
just to raise a kid who doesn't need therapy as an adult.
honestly, that is literally sometimes how I make a decision.

No one told me back then,
how huge this would feel,
and how no one has any answers,
and how very very gray it would all seem.

But in this very raw feeling of inadequacy,
in this uncomfortable, unfamiliar space
that I can't seem to get out of,
an old hymn comes to mind.

When I'm crying in the shower because
I've made so many mistakes
and lacked patience
and been too hurried
and had so many other missteps,

when I'm having a hard time praying
anything except
God please make up the difference

I start singing this hymn I learned as a child,
and it's nothing but a sweet reminder from the Lord

I hear the Savior say,
Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in me your all in all,

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

I can't remember any other verses,
so I just sing those lines over and over,

and it all becomes clearer....
maybe not black and white,
but much easier to see.
Much less blurry.

It's the whole point of parenting....
that I can't do it.

I'm not strong enough or smart enough or good enough at being a mother,
and that creates in me a complete, utter dependence on Jesus...
it means I must find in Him my all in all, everything I need, everything my children need.

And suddenly, with that at the forefront, I can breathe again.

I'm not a failure....I'm a child of weakness.
I'm a child of weakness, and I'm SO loved by a great God,
who chose to entrust me with Lana and Tucker,
who promises to be all that I need to raise them.
My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak,
and it's in my utter weakness that He is most glorified.

My children surely won't remember a perfect mama....
they will have lots of mistakes to look back on,
and perhaps will require a bit of therapy despite my best efforts, lol...
but I just hope and pray that they will remember a mama who daily called on Jesus,
who failed and let them fail, pointing us all back to the Cross
that washes us white as snow.

This story that Team Davis is writing together is enough,
because it's a gospel story.

It's a story of the Good News that we are 4 broken, beautiful people created in the image of God, separated from Him and each other by our own sin, and rejoicing in the work of Christ that brings us back to God, forever....and daily.  My weakness as a mother is the bad news that makes the Good News so very, very good.

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