When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I was elated. I sang at the top of my lungs the entire 45-minute drive home the doctor's office. And then reality hit—I was going to be a parent.
Since the beginning of time, noble men and women have raised godly sons and daughters in the way they should go (see Proverbs 22:6). Many of those children have gone on to do great things for the kingdom of God.
It's a beautiful thing to follow the life of a child from birth to death when that life has been diligently prayed over, instructed, and nurtured. I have four daughters now, ages 7 to 16, and I can't wait to see what God does in their lives.
When a child is born, I often wonder what God knows that we do not. Could it be that this child is meant to cure cancer? Care for those with AIDS/HIV? Evangelize millions?
For those brought up to know the Lord, the possibilities are as limitless as God's purposes for us. Yes, children raised in ungodly homes go on to do great things. But those raised in godly homes will likely go on to do great things for the glory of God.
Every child is a promise, a seed. For a seed to grow it must be planted, nurtured, and cared for—daily.
And it is that dailyness that gets to us—to me, anyway. As a homeschool mom, I'm not always up for "weeding" the seeds I've planted. I let attitudes slide, behaviors slip. And before long no one in the house resembles Christ, myself included. I have lots of reasons (or are they excuses?)—deadlines, schedules, headaches. My self-absorption causes me to let the weeds in my children's lives get out of control.
I have four wonderful kids and a godly husband, and still I find myself lacking. I think I too easily lose sight of the eternal picture. When I focus on the here and now—the busyness, the sibling rivalry, the things that I can see—I lose sight of what I can't see. I lose sight of Christ and his purpose for the seeds he's entrusted me with.
Never Give Up
Every journey requires a measure of sacrifice. The path of parenting is no different. So even in the midst of busyness, trials, and sibling squabbles, I will not give up. I will sacrifice for my children. Continually. Every day. And I will never give up on them because Christ never gave up on me.
And that's crucial—that we never give up. We're human. We make mistakes. We don't have this parenting thing all figured out. And that's okay. God can accomplish more through a willing, cracked vessel than he can through a semi-committed piece of beauty.
There is no such thing as the perfect parent, so we all can stop vying for the coveted award. The most amazing part of parenting is that even our missteps can become places where God is present and active in our children's lives.
We tend to be too hard on ourselves, thinking that if we mess up our kids will be messed up. We judge ourselves by our children's behavior, but when we do so, we see all of their mistakes and few of their successes. We miss developing relationships with the people they are because we're so focused on who they aren't.
Parenting is not about what we do right or wrong; it's about what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of our children. When we understand that, parenting becomes freeing, fun, and far more rewarding than we ever could have imagined.
What God Sees
So what does God see when he looks into the eyes of a newborn child? I believe he sees a promise kept.
The God of the universe has loved us since before the earth was even formed. Before we came into existence, our children were already planned. Every birth is God's promise fulfilled. I know a woman whose birth was the result of a rape. She always struggled with that knowledge until she got to know Christ and received the truth of who she is in God's eyes. No longer is she a child of rape, but a child of God—beautiful and beloved, redeemed and restored.
When I gave birth to my first daughter, complications necessitated an emergency C-section. I was numb from the waist down but very much alert and talking with my husband the whole time.
When my daughter was lifted from my womb, in my mind's eye I saw the Lord standing right next to me. No need for lights, his smile alone could have lit the room! His promise had been delivered, a seed from his hand to my own.
Being a parent is an incredible privilege. Our children may wear us down physically or emotionally whether they're 7 or 16 (I'm experiencing both right now!), but regardless of their age we need to keep the big picture in sight even if we can't see it all clearly right now. The necessary parts will come into focus at the needed time.
When my mama drama reaches epic proportions, I know I need some perspective. It's not about me. This is the time I need to focus even more on God's will for my children.
While I continue to make mistakes, I am encouraged. I am encouraged by those who have gone before me. I'm encouraged by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, with whom I can share my parenting struggles. And I'm encouraged by God's Word, which reveals he will finish the work he has begun in me (see Philippians 1:6).
My children aren't any more perfect than I am, but I'm excited about the future. I know God has great things in store for them. This encourages me to keep pressing on, to rely more on the Holy Spirit, and to trust that God knows what's best for them even when I don't.
I want to show my children God's unconditional love in action, but when I fail I know I must say so, for I don't want to give an inaccurate portrayal of Christ. More than anything, I want my kids to develop such a love for Christ that things of this world have no hold on them. I want them to see the beauty in pain, the triumph in trials, the joy in serving the Lord.
I want my children to see the promises of God kept in their lives because by their very birth they are themselves a promise delivered.
Tammy Darling is a freelance writer living in Three Springs, Pennsylvania.