Monday, May 4, 2015

Chains for Wings

I know.  It's been a while. I've been wrapped up in this whole motherhood thing.  Can I just say....being a mama can be such a crazy gig?! Factor in the fact that I'm a terrible procrastinator who is also very easily distracted and it's a miracle I manage to even update my Facebook status, much less put together a couple of pages for a blog post. Though, the fact that I DO manage to update regularly may explain some of my distraction issues!  Still, if in the midst of my crazy days of life and family shenanigans,  I have something I just can't get out of my head, I've learned that I may not be the one who put it there.  At some point, those things get written down and usually shared.  I must admit that I'm a little afraid to write some of the things down that have been in my head lately...especially for others to see!! I also don't think I should drop in once every few months and just unload on any unsuspecting readers!:)  So, while those things are likely coming, this post is about something near and dear to my heart and something that I hope will encourage many of you in this thing called, "Motherhood".

Rule #1 of motherhood should read as follows:  
"When you think you have some things figured out....think again."
Well, I guess that's not very "encouraging" now is it?  What I mean to say is, don't be surprised or feel like less of a mom when things have been going so well and your kids suddenly switch gears on you and cause your mental "mom of the year" award to be tarnished.  It comes with the territory.  Expect it.

First borns, especially, are constantly moving you into uncharted waters.  What they should and should not be allowed to do is forever being put through 5,000 checks and balances.  The same can be true for boys vs. girls. For me, I have twin boys that are 14....and a girl that is 5!! I was so use to boy stuff and was never a girly, girl myself that she presents many new challenges to my parenting skills!  There are so many phases that if you have more than one child, you may find yourself in a constant state of wonder about your parenting decisions and approach.  For older ones...sometimes it's new activities, new schools, trouble with friends, trouble with girlfriends/boyfriends, issues with grades, or sometimes it's just that lovely attitude that implies, "mom knows absolutely nothing".)
For younger ones, you may find yourself in a new phase each day...sleeping, potty training, sharing, temper tantrums, the dress phase, the shorts phase, or more recently for us...the overalls phase. Then it's back to learning to be a good friend, a good student , etc. As the youngest of 5, I can tell you that parents don't often get as worked up over as many things with #5 as they did with #1. Some say it's because parents are worn down by this time.  Which, quite frankly, is partially true.  However, I think they've been in their roles long enough to see more of the big picture and have learned what is truly important and what. just. isn't.

Regardless of how many kids you have, most people can see where our angst as moms comes in.  So much of our time is spent finding the right balance for each child in their freedoms and boundaries.  It is SO very important to find that balance.  Not having it can lead them to stumble and fall all the way into an unbalanced adult. I think we all know some of those...or maybe we are one of those. (For me, it depends on the day.) At the root of this monumental task, though, lie two areas that I'm really trying to get a handle on that I think will help me guide all the other areas with much more confidence and much less anxiety.  One has the ability to saddle our children with chains and the other...wings.     

Taming the Beast (And I Don't Mean Your Child):

Becoming a parent births more than a kid. It births a wealth of deep-seeded emotions and one is an ugly beast named, Fear. I certainly struggle with it. Some of the simplest of decisions can be almost painful, can't they, because we fear the consequences our child will suffer if we make the wrong decisions?  You can go back to my earliest blog posts and see how God has used the move to California to help me work on those issues...and He continues to provide ample opportunity for me to address my fears! I mean, at one end of the spectrum, we're trying to raise them to be well rounded adults that will one day contribute to the world around them.  All the while, we're seeing them and that world with a mom's eye view.....what the world can do to them.  

Now, I'm not saying our fears are always irrational or unfounded. Fears of safety, fears for their health, their future, their hearts....those are all legit fears! We are hardwired with protective, motherly instincts for a reason.  What I am saying is this: 
If we operate and interact with them in a constant state of anxiety where every conversation we have, every interaction with them, and every decision we make is laced with fear....we run the risk of them growing up with a severe disability....the paralysis of a fearful spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that's not of God. 

"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (KJV)

Hundreds of verses in scripture, actually, tell us that fear is from the enemy, not God.  Why would we want to saddle them with anything that's not of God? 

We must get a handle on our own fears or we may shackle our children with them.  Then, we can address each situation with a confidence that instills confidence in our children.  Yes, some things are deserving of a healthy dose of fear.  That's where we have to foster common sense.  However, we love these little sugar boogers so much that our love for them sometimes gets muddled with irrational fears and "what if" scenarios. This is where the helicopter mom is birthed, by the way, in case any of you have ever wondered.  I'm talking state of the art, military grade helicopter. Before you start picturing that mom at the ballpark or at little Johnny's school, don't forget that we've ALL taken a ride on that chopper.  Some of us stand ready to launch our alert 5 aircraft at any moment, the rest of us are probably at the very least....frequent flyers.  

Today, I'm not talking about specific scenarios and lists of do's and don'ts, though I'm sure those would be helpful. But, for the purposes of this post, I'm only talking about the root issues.  So, to help convey what I mean, I'll tell you what I want the end result to be for my kids in regards to fear when my primary parenting years are over: I want them to be so grounded in their faith and assured of God's goodness and His love for them that they fearlessly follow wherever He leads.  I will also tell you what I DON'T want for my kids: I don't want them to make the mistakes we all likely make at times when we become so focused on ourselves, how we can make our lives better, and even how we can add a few more days to our earthly lives.....that we forget to really LIVE and we miss out on the best God has for us because we nurture our fears instead of our faith. We focus on the temporal and not the eternal.  I want them to fear making those costly mistakes more than they fear death. As a matter of fact, I'd rather they not fear death at all! Don't misunderstand me....I would be devastated if my children left this earth before me.  But, it certainly bears stating....if the worst thing that can happen is that we leave this earth to be with Jesus, what really is there to fear?? 

Earning Wings:

Now, having said all of that, while God did not give us a spirit of timidity, as the NIV refers to it, He certainly did not give us a spirit of stupidity, either! For crying out loud, the whole book of Proverbs pleads with us to seek wisdom!  The only real fear that requires our allegiance is fear of the LORD.  
"Get wisdom; get insight;do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;love her, and she will guard you." ~ Proverbs 4:5-6
(Side note: I always think it's special....and kinda fun.... that when Proverbs speaks of wisdom, it's referred to as a woman to be treasured!)

So, you might be asking, "So, how is this now "fearless" child suppose to obtain all this wisdom? I mean, we are still talking about kids here!"  Well, God only gave a couple of directions specifically to children outside of "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength", which He gives to us all.  He said:

1) Obey your parents
2) Honor your father and mother
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth." ~ Ephesians 6:1
Recognizing God's authority on their lives and recognizing our God given authority as their parents are non negotiable in biblical parenting.   His authority is for their good.  Why, oh why would we deprive them of that?
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck."  ~ Proverbs 1:7-9
God simply expects them to honor their father and mother and obey their parents. Why?? Simply put, they all too often they think they know better than us.  Yet, the truth is, they are too young and inexperienced to make that distinction.  Sure, we explain and teach and reason and explain some more. However, we needn't think they have to agree with us or even completely understand the "why" in order to obey.  See, WE are their wisdom until they can discern wisdom for themselves.  Even after they've accepted Christ and have the Holy Spirit to guide their understanding, WE will be their primary guides to point them in the way they should go while they are under our roof.  I believe God fully expects us to step up to that roll and not shrink back when things get hairy.  However many tears they cry, however many hurt puppy looks we get, however our own hearts break for them, we fail them if we don't instill the basic respect for authority in our children.  

It's why you spat the hands of a toddler that keeps trying to take the safety plugs out of the electrical outlet.  Sure, you say, "no!" And redirect them, distract them, move them, and explain and say, "hot".  But, he doesn't know what hot is so he just smiles when you say, "no" and reaches for it again. So...eventually you spat his little chubby hands to let him know a painful consequence is involved before real injury occurs. The next time he eyes the outlet, he points at it and says, "hot!"  and you hug him and say, "!" and tell him what a good listener he is. He's not thinking how mean mommy is and he certainly won't be scarred for life as he could have been had you not made that boundary clear on a level he could understand.  It is our job to make sure they know their boundaries until they're able to make those distinctions. See, however much they insist on what they want, they have no idea if it is, in fact, something they're going to love or something that's going to cause them harm. 

Does that sound familiar for some reason? It sure resonates for me. How many times have we been at a crossroad with God where the boundary was clear and we disobeyed because we either didn't understand the "why" or flat out disagreed? How many times did we find out the "why" later on down the road? Or on the flip side, maybe we obeyed when it was hard and down the road, the "why" became evident and we were beyond thankful that we obeyed.   

I don't think any of us would knowingly cheat our children out of the best that God has for them by allowing them to live outside the boundaries we set for them and those that God has set for them.  That is just simply the consequence of wimping out with our kids and not teaching them the ways of wisdom.  Not to say that we can't do everything right and our children not choose God's way as adults, but, we want to give them every opportunity while they are in our care.  

I don't say any of this to shame anyone.  I certainly don't say it because I do it perfectly, either.  I only want to remind myself and my fellow moms that God gave us these roles....our own heavenly Father.   If we stay plugged into Him, always seeking His will for our kiddos, we CAN find the balance they need.  We can give them the freedom to truly and fearlessly live this life.  We may one day find that they are mighty men and women who, as Isaiah 40:31 puts it, "Wait on the Lord, renew their strength, mount up with wings like eagles."  

What more could we hope for our children than for them to become adults who, full of wisdom and without fear.....wait upon the Lord, however small or monumental the decisions or tasks before them may be?   I'll trade in my frequent flyer miles in a heartbeat....and the chains that go with them..... if it means they can soar like an eagle.  

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