And with that I'm led to ponder ... because ... well ... wow, how do I say this?
There is some seriously suckish parenting going on out there folks.
Let's get real.
Effective parenting doesn't just happen.
And yet it can't be about effort, either. Some of the worst parenting is done in the light of trying too hard. And a lot of it is done in the "name of Christ".
So what IS it? What makes the difference? As if I know. Well, I know a bit. For what it's worth ...
It's NOT working up enough will power to perfectly execute an external system. We tried that.
And yet gleaning wisdom from others, learning from their path, is essential.
It's NOT about control and being rigid.
And yet consistency is EVERYTHING.
There's so much both/and wrapped up in it all, see?
Here's what the real clincher is, in my mind, tonight.
It's living loved.
If you're loved - if you're BELOVED - being loved - if you live that, breathe that, if you are FULL UP of God/grace/love ... you are, by default, motivated to parent well. As you are motivated to love well in all your relationships. It's always going to be about the other person. That will be the motivation.
You are motivated because you are humble. You don't hate the weaknesses you see in your kids because you no longer despise them in yourself. You see them for what they are. You lift them up to your OWN Father, who you trust to lovingly restore you.
You are motivated because you are at peace. It doesn't matter who sees your kid scream and kick. What matters is what he or she needs. What's at stake is what matters, not someone else's opinion. You don't need anything from anyone because you are at peace with God. This peace motivates every relationship - especially parenting.
You are motivated because of the joy. Sure, it's hard. But for the joy set before you, you walk the path day after day. You have joy in the journey, hard and tiring as it is, because you have HOPE. The giver of every good and perfect gift has you and yours in the palm of His hand and He has sworn Himself to never let you go. There is joy in the simplest things of life.
Speaking of hope, you are motivated by that as well. Your worst fears are never the worst. Hope that God's heart is truly, fully good. That He loves every person you love infinitely more than you do. The solid conviction that this is not a trite theological "ism" or a Hallmark quote - it is the Really Real. Hope in the heart of The Good God is an incomparable motivator.
Parenting - loving kids, consistently training them, walking alongside them - it's more than hard. It's impossible. We fail every day. And yet we are okay with that. Not okay in the sense that we throw our hands in the air and just keep screwing up. No. It is our greatest goal and focus to bring up children who love God and love others - who trust Him fully - who trust us and remain connected to us and each other no matter what - who bring His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven to everyone they meet. We are intentional about that. We are okay in our imperfection but that doesn't take a thing away from our intentionality.
Imperfect, yet ever intentional.
But never intentionally imperfect.
(for what it's worth...)
We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.~Colossians 1, The Message