When I dream dreams of what my children will be like one day, I see them as worshippers, forgivers, joyful and full of hope, children who love God and love people with everything they’ve got. To be honest, I’d love it if they just came to us that way, fully loaded with joy, hope and forgiveness, like a computer that has already been programmed with perfection. But we all know that’s not the way it works. God sets us in families for a reason; He knows that we learn best in community. They will learn by watching their father and me.
They will watch our reaction when we’ve been hurt or wronged…do we hold a grudge, or do we forgive?
They will watch us when difficult circumstances come…do we react in bitterness, or do we hold onto joy and hope?
They will learn priorities by what we give our time and attention to…are we consumed by keeping up with the latest and greatest, following rules, and keeping a spotless, Instagram-worthy house, or do we prioritize loving God and others over rules and appearances?
They will learn what a life of worship and wonder looks like by following our gaze…are we distracted by the loud voices of fear, discouragement and shame, or are we keeping our gaze on our Savior and positioning our hearts to listen to His voice?
To be quite frank, this growing realization that being a parent means not only being closely watched (I’m not one who loves the spotlight), but also being responsible for shaping my child’s attitudes, actions, and worldview, was all at once heavy and scary as all get-out.
I’m the type of person who tends to have big-picture thinking, which can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in our marriage, because my hubby is much more detail-oriented, and we balance each other out. The curse comes when all I see is the big picture, and it overwhelms me to the point of immobilization. In the case of this dawning realization that our children will be watching us and learning from us, you guessed it, I began to feel completely overwhelmed and unfit for the job.
Until one day, last November, when the Spirit gently nudged my quaking heart with this verse from Ezekiel:
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. ~Ch. 36, V. 26
And with that one verse, God slowly began calming my fears and showing me the next, small steps to take.
Step #1 – He would prepare my spirit for the task. I didn’t have to come already signed up as Super Mom (cue “Hallelujah Chorus”).
Step #2 – He would help remove the stubborn, unforgiving, striving, fearful, bitter stones from my heart. Those stones that I don’t want my children picking up and carrying in their own hearts. He didn’t promise it would be easy, but He did promise His presence and help in doing it.
Step #3 – He would give me a tender, responsive heart. It’s a gift. And it’s a gift that I can then give to my children. Because THAT is my dream for them…to grow up to be humans whose hearts are tender and responsive to their God and to other people.
That’s the big picture that I want to keep in front of me. And I’m so thankful that God is in the business of guiding me through the small, detailed steps to get there.