Monday, October 10, 2011

The "joys" of parenthood

There are many joys of parenthood. Some of them unexpected and some of them not the "ha ha" joy we typically think about. There's the joy of watching your baby roll over for the 1st time or the joy of watching them smear icing all over their face from their 1st birthday cake. This week we celebrated with our niece as she pooped in the potty for the 1st time. Then there's the joy of watching them as they finally "get" something you've been trying to teach them for a long time or the joy of seeing them stand up for what they believe in front of their peers. We glow with thankfulness and pride (probably should be just thankfulness, but I have to call it what it is for me sometimes) for the children we see them becoming.

The joys I don't expect (and don't really want) are the ones that happen because of lessons learned during time in the trenches. I have several dear friends going through time in the trenches with their kids right now, and my girls have spent some time there recently as well. We want our kids to continue behaving the way we've told them they are supposed to behave. We want them to continue to want to climb onto our laps and tell us we are the most important person in their world. But part of the growing up process, as we all know, is figuring out who you are as a human being. Unfortunately for parents, this sometimes means they pull away from us for a time, they go beyond limits to see what happens, they cry themselves to sleep, or they live in what seems like a state of utter confusion about what is right and wrong. And we are sometimes left standing by watching it all happen.

I wish I could say I have all the answers to help your child survive these times. What I do have are the promises from God's Word.
Prov. 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he's old he will not depart from it.
Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."
Isaiah 40:29-31 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Micah 6:8 "He has showed you... what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
And we could go on and on and on...

God's grace is enough for your child and for you. His arms are big enough to hold both you and your children through the trenches. When you run out of parenting options, He's still there. He's still loving your child and offering His grace to them. Pray earnestly for them. It may not seem like enough, because you want to DO something to help them. But it truly is enough. We have to trust in Him. We have no other choice.

And so many parents "on the other side" of these trenches have seen that the joy that comes in the morning after the darkness is so much greater and deeper than any joy they experienced before. That's where we truly find the joy of parenting. I wish they could get there without the pain, but it WILL be worth it.

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