Heard the saying, “Confession is good for the soul”? So tell me, are you someone who, prior to having kids, said, “My child will never __________!”
I was. And yes, predictably, at least one or the other of my children did nearly all of the things I filled in that blank with!
Parenting has taught me a lot. It’s taught me a little about my children and a whole lot about myself. It’s also opened my eyes to some of the ways God deals with us as His children. Here are five things I’m learning about my relationship with God as I parent my own children.
1. Life is easier when you obey.
We have a strong-willed daughter who had an extended “terrible two’s” season of life. I remember thinking, “Why can’t you see that your life would go so much more smoothly if you’d simply obey?” It wasn’t like we were asking her to do extremely hard things. We had fairly simple requirements. But she liked to test the limits.
As Christians, it can take us a long time to learn that our life is better if we’ll simply obey God. Our way may seem to make more sense. Or we might not like what He’s telling us to do. But, as James 4:7 tells us, we’re to submit ourselves to God.
It’s also how we show God that we love Him. John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Isn’t it sweet as a parent when our child does something just to please us? In that same way, our obedience is a way to show our love for and gratitude to God.
2. Growth takes time.
We know this with our children, especially physically. It’s obvious that their bodies are growing as they get older. But it’s also true with our children emotionally. Maturity allows them to handle disappointments and hard situations with more self-control.
In the same way, spiritual growth takes time. If you’re like me, sometimes you may get discouraged and wonder if you really are growing spiritually. Earlier this year, I read the book Spiritual Growth by Arthur W. Pink. He gave detailed insights into ways we can know if we’ve grown spiritually. And while I know I still have many areas to improve, I was encouraged to see that there are some areas in which I’ve experienced growth.
But remember that growth takes time. Every trial we go through, every answered prayer, each temptation overcome, and our time spent in His Word leads to our spiritual growth.
3. Sometimes “no” is the best answer.
When our children ask for something, no is certainly not what they want to hear. Yet sometimes, because we have done more of life and know what’s best for them, the answer to their request is no.
Neither do we want to hear no when we go to God with a request. We’re asking Him for something because we want it. Yet God in His infinite wisdom denies some of our petitions. And that’s another part of our spiritual growth – learning to trust that He knows what is best for us, even when we don’t understand why.
4. Parenting involves sacrifice.
Whether it’s getting up at 2am to feed a newborn or staying up till midnight waiting for your teenager to get home, sacrificing sleep is often a part of parenting. That’s only one example. We choose to make other sacrifices, too. We want to give our children the best of everything, even if that means giving up something we want.
Sacrifices could be financial or they could involve our time. Playing a game, reading books, going for a bike ride, sitting through a piano recital – these are all ways we sacrifice our time so that we can do things with our children.
We have to look no farther than John 3:16 to understand how God sacrificed for us. He gave His only son that we might have our sins forgiven and live with Him eternally. His great love sacrificed what was most precious to Him so that we could be saved.
5. There’s incredible joy in watching our children grow and mature.
We have teenagers. That in and of itself seems to mean that occasionally they’re going to do or say something immature. But there are times when they respond to a situation or make a decision that shows wisdom and discernment. There’s not much else that brings such joy to a mama’s heart!
How pleased God must be when our first reaction to a difficult situation is to turn to Him in faith rather than resort to our own tactics. When another person provokes us, and we respond in love rather than anger, I think that God smiles at how we’ve let the fruit of the Spirit guide us.
I thank God for His grace, His mercy, and His patience as we learn to walk with Him! May we display those same qualities as we parent our own children.
- Grace for the Gaps in Our Parenting
- 7 Lessons Parenting Teaches Us About Ourselves
- 12 Things I’m Glad I Did As a Mom