As a mother, I’d seen my role as training up these children in the way they should go so that when they became adults, they would be perfect like me.
I saw the relationship as pretty one-sided: I taught them, ordered them, directed them and took care of them. It was about me as the authority figure and them as the cherubs waiting to lap up every suggestion with peace, harmony and joy.
Charming and wonderful though my children are, they somehow acquired minds of their own and used them.
(It took me awhile to remember the point of raising children was to produce adults, not giant children, so it actually was good they developed intelligent, rational minds of their own.)
The problem was, they didn’t always agree with me and that often proved frustrating. Some days I actually wondered why God gave me these particular children–with their strengths of character and determination to do things their way.
I mean, why was I arguing with a two-year-old?
Who was the adult here?
And why did these miniature versions of my husband drive me crazy and make me so angry?
While praying about my attitude, I circled back to the fact it was no surprise to God the children who lived in my household. That must mean, therefore, that he had matched me with children from whom I could learn things about my character.
Afterall, they were stuck with me, too.
That means the children in my life were planted there for a purpose: to improve my soul. To enable me to learn how to control my emotions, to become more disciplined so I could care for them.
Their spiritual foibles were opportunities for me to spend more time in prayer. Their demands meant I could learn to put myself second to someone else.
In serving them, even when totally exhausted, I served Jesus as well.
It was a sobering moment, but also a good insight because it enabled me to take a step back from the emotion of parenting and look at the children through the eyes of a sister in Christ.
Ours was a mutual arrangement of learning and submitting–not in the sense I did what my children wanted, but that I thought through our give-and-take with a broader perspective.
And, when they called me on my mistakes, I considered them and apologized if necessary.
They’ve grown up now, and really are my Christian brothers and sister.
And my Christian character is much improved as a result.
Thanks be to God.