After wrestling our kids in church yesterday, I turned around to see one of my friends. As we both unleashed our kids to go into the fellowship hall and get some treats, we looked at each other and gave a collective sigh.
Sunday mornings are hard.
Our day started out so great. I was able to get some Bible reading in before the rest of the family was up. I was able to at least work through my prayers for my family. I lingered on my prayer notes for David. Not that David is worse than the rest of my kids, but Sundays are harder days for him. We had talked the night before and he wanted to do so good today. I wanted this victory for him. I keep forgetting that God can use failures just as easily (if not more) as victories to teach us things.
I’m not sure what exactly made it unravel. There was a miscommunication with his breakfast. It was no one’s fault, and a complete mistake (long story), but he ended up having 2 heaping bowls of cereal he thought he could have, but actually had one of his highest allergens in it: soy. About 20-30 minutes later, he was on the floor, in the fetal position, overwhelmed by life, overwhelmed by sounds, words, people, mad at the world… once again. Parents with kids with SPD know there’s a difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, and this was a meltdown. Was it the cereal? His reactions are neurological/nervous system based. I don’t know. Maybe? Sigh. Part of me thinks that’s just him on Sundays. That’s not the point. In fact, I’m way off on a rabbit trail.
Sometimes my prayers effect my kids. But more often than not, they effect me. It’s like God takes a hold of my brain, and puts a hedge around it. It’s like I hear his truths playing like a broken record in my heart. When one of my kids starts falling apart, and I want to give into anxiety, discouragement, and/or embarrassment, he gives me clarity.
There were 3 things that were playing like a broken record for me yesterday morning after my prayer time and throughout the morning:
1) This is not the time for harvest. This is the time for planting. I am in the planting season with my kids. I’m planting truth. I’m planting love. I’m planting wisdom. I’m planting skills. I’m planting discipline. If I have learned anything from living on the farm, it’s how opposite the farming world is from the instant-gratification life I knew in the city. Food just doesn’t appear out here. We don’t just order chicken nuggets. We know something had to die, bleed out, get cleaned, chopped up, fried, and served. We see the cost, the time of growing something from an egg, from a seed, from the newborn stage. There is a time to plant. There is a time to nurture, there is a time to water. There is a time to wait. There is a time to harvest. There is an order to it.
Farmers are some of the most patient people I know, because they literally watch their grass grow. They don’t wave around their hands and moan that they have no harvest 5 minutes, 5 days, or even 5 weeks after they planted. They know there’s a time for planting. This does not surprise them every year.
Farmers also know that they’re only capable of modifying the environment, and even then, only to an extent. They can manage the health of the soil, the planting, and the harvesting. They can manage the weeds (to an extent) and depending on whether or not their crop is rain dependent, or other means of irrigation, they control the water.
But no farmer can make a seed grow. That’s entirely out of their hands. They can only control parts of the environment up to their capability.
There is nothing instant about growing things.
Dear friends, I’m simply in a season of planting. When I remember that, I feel so much less of a failure. We should not let the technology culture of instant-results effect how we see ourselves as parents. We should not plant a seed in our child, and if it doesn’t take root immediately we say to ourselves “What am I doing wrong?” Nothing. We are planting…not harvesting yet. Patience. This is part of the process.
2) The Holy Spirit has access to my children’s brains. This is something that I’ve heard Sally Clarkson say over and over again, and most recently again in a recent podcast of hers this last week. She’s a great mentor mom who has dealt with out-of-the-box kids. This truth is one that has been replaying over and over in my mind during these stressful times. God has access to my child’s brain, my child’s heart, in a way that I don’t have. As all of my children have been getting older, I feel a distinct shift in my role. I’m not sure if it’s my parenting style changing, my kids getting older, or just my growing awareness that I am not enough for my kids, nor was I designed to be.
My kids were designed to crave God, need God, and long for God. More often lately, when I feel as though I’m at the end of my rope with one of them, I fall less into despair that I’m failing them, and fall more into the awareness that the end of my rope is a cue from God that he’s got this from here. It’s where I stop. “OK, God. You’re turn. You talk to them. You speak to their hearts. You can reach them in a way I am unable. You are the expert on hearts.” Instead of teaching my kids how to be good in one more way, because it’s just not working anymore, I’m just pushing them towards the grace of God with every ounce of strength I have, knowing that God will catch them.
3) God is holding my kids. This is somewhat related to the above point, but it’s something deeper, for me. I sometimes sense this spiritual battle surrounding my kids and I can do all sorts of things that I feel are “insurance” that they’re going to make it whole through life. I can think that if I just keep homeschooling them, they will love the Lord, or if I can just teach them enough honor and respect than they will learn to honor and respect God, or if I parent a certain way, I will have this insurance policy that God will have to take them then. It’s a trap, I think all Christian parents fall into in their own ways, through their own legalistic bents.
But God loves them deeper than we can see. They are part of a greater story than we can imagine. As I prayed yesterday morning, my mind drifted back to my particular family history, my particular family sins that have gone down through the generations, and it was as though God spoke to my heart, that my kids were part of His redemption story, in a way more grand than I could possibly imagine.
When my kids are baptized, I have requested the same song in each service: In Christ Alone.
There’s a verse in that song that goes like this:
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever clutch me from his hand.
God is holding my kids in his hand. He loves them more fiercely than I ever could. He has access to their brains, and their hearts. And me? I’m just a farmer-mother planting seeds day in and day out. But God is the one making things grow.