This Parenting Thing

A few weeks ago I reconnected with one of my former youth group girls for lunch. As we were catching up, the conversation inevitably turned to my family and how they were doing, and she about fell off her chair when we made the connection that my Ash is the same age she was when I was her youth leader. I’m getting old, y’all. How is this happening?

I regaled her with stories of life with boys and a princess. We laughed over the shenanigans they try to pull and the ways they still misunderstand the world. I teared up as I shared the struggle of their hearts as they watch their mom fight cancer. We both got misty-eyed as I described the moments of tenderness we share and we shook our heads at the drama and the arguments that seem pointless and frivolous. As she drove me home, she said, “There’s one thing I’m seeing in all this, Ang, You love being a parent.”

Y’all she couldn’t have hit the nail any more solidly on the head.

This is what I love to do. This is what I want to do. This is what I have always wanted to do.

Is it the hardest job I’ve ever done? Yes. Are there days when I wonder about my sanity? Yes. Are there days when I question if I’m doing my job well? Yes. Is the job getting harder and harder each day? Yes.

I could go on… but I could also ask…

Is it the most rewarding job I’ve ever done? Yes. Are there days when I could do this forever and never complain? Yes. Are there days when I believe I’m doing well? Yes. Is the job getting harder and harder each day? Yes.

But here’s the thing with all those questions. They’re all about me! That’s not what I want.

My love of parenting isn’t about me. It’s about them. It’s about getting that front row seat for what God is doing. It’s about seeing those minds and hearts shaped for His glory. It’s about growing them to learn the world and interact with the world and build relationships and do their best in all things for Jesus. It’s about laying the groundwork for who they are to become and praying like crazy for God to protect and cover them. It’s seeing their unique gifts and abilities and giving them the space to grow in those areas. It’s fashioning those little arrows and then letting them fly.

Letting. them. fly.

I’ve made no bones in my blog about where I stand on honoring my children. It’s something I feel very strongly about. Is it hard work? Yes. Do my children and I argue? Yes. Do I struggle to believe I’m having an impact? Yet. But as I mold those arrows and prepare them to fly, I also honor and protect them. I protect their reputation. I protect their hearts. I protect the way they are viewed by others. And I fight for them and beside them, because we are in a war against powers and principalities and darkness, and I don’t want to be in a war against my children, too!

Each moment is full of the need of grace. And I fail far more than I succeed, but failing does not make me a failure.

This parenting thing is hard, but if it were not hard, it would not be parenting.

This parenting thing is not convenient, but if it were convenient, it would not be parenting.

These children are gifts no matter how difficult parenting them may be. Difficulty does not diminish the goodness of God. It only increases my dependency on Him and His goodness.

That is how parenting can come. Through Him. Because of Him and His grace. That is only how I can give grace.

“let NOTHING unwholesome proceed out of your mouth… only that which edifies…for the need of the moment…so it will give grace…”

It is only when I am not dependent on Him that the lens through which I view my children blurs and cracks and distorts.

But when I look at them through His eyes I see them clearly. The way I need to see them. The way I want to see them. As gifts. And I beg God for wisdom and strength. For grace and love. Because I so desperately need Him and so do my children.

“let NOTHING unwholesome proceed out of your mouth… only that which edifies…for the need of the moment…so it will give grace…”

They need to see Him through me, and how can they see him through me if I view them as a nuisance, an inconvenience, an interruption to my day or my plans or my life? How can others see Him in me if I complain and groan and disrespect my children and their reputation?

No. I parent them and I love them, and I accept parenthood for what it is.

Daily denying self.

Work.

But oh, what joyous work!

At the end of the day when they curl up beside me, head on my shoulder, the words, “I’m sorry…” come… or the words, “well done…” and always the words “I love you…”

“let NOTHING unwholesome proceed out of your mouth… only that which edifies…for the need of the moment…so it will give grace…”

Their words. My words. Our lives. They have changed from unwholesome to edifying because of God’s grace.

And I see the Gospel.

It is there and they are growing.

And as I bend them toward the son of righteousness, I see the shoots deepen into the earth and the saplings stand tall.

And I fall to my knees. Thankful for His gift.

This joyous work of parenthood.

7 responses to “This Parenting Thing”

  1. Angela Leffel Avatar
    Angela Leffel

    Thank you. I needed to hear those words and take a hard look at my perspective. Thanks for sharing truth.

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  2. And THIS is one of the many, many reasons I admire you, Angie. Thank you for sharing your love of parenting in the hard. Mamas like you in my life are role models, because I do NOT love parenting, yet have been called to it. Parenting IS my hard. Thank you for these timely reminders and glimpses of grace, because I know your real hard is HARDER than I could imagine and your love runs so, so deep. Blessings.

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  3. It is, too, also about you. Because it is YOUR work; you’ve chosen this as your most important way of living and loving and being what you were made to be. Some people choose teaching, choose building, choose programming, choose healing, whatever speaks loudest to them as the site where the hardest work of the heart and spirit takes place, as the place where the deepest joys are born. You chose this, and you do it beautifully–even in the hours you question your methods or effectiveness, you question lovingly, thoughtfully, generatively, keeping your heart open for growth in this most precious arena. It’s about them and about God and about how those things are tied together too, but as the creative, generous, passion-filled workspace of your soul, it’s also very much about you.

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  4. What a Blessing to my heart as you shared the struggles with parenting. But reward is always when your kids send you a Birthday card or Christmas card and thank you for doing the tough things in life and saying no when the answer is no. Making the sacrifices for them and sharing the love of Christ in word and deed.
    God Bless! and Thank You.

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  5. This was a blessing to read, Angie. I admire your perseverance in even the grace and discipline it takes to share such deep feelings and truths as you’re in the midst of such challenges and trials.

    Among others who are and will for years to come be encouraged by what you share, I’m sure your children will also be forever indebted to you for your faithfulness, steadfastness and commitment to them and to the Lord, for their eternal good. It’s evident that God truly gives more grace as it’s needed in your life, (as the songwriter expresses)! Your family surely benefits from your love and perspective!

    I’m thankful for your Brian and each of your children (as well as for your parents and good friends), who are such evident blessings and provisions for you!

    Much love to you, and prayers for your ongoing joyous labors of parenting, among among many others. May He give you significant encouragement even today!

    Carol Fortner

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  6. Melissa Moslow Avatar
    Melissa Moslow

    So True!

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  7. Thank you!

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