As parents we are called to train our children, not asked to raise them.
Psalms 127:3 tells us that, ‘Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.’ They are a God given gift presented to us with the instruction we find in Proverbs 22:6 telling us to ‘Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it.’
Have you ever been given a gift that you didn’t really know what to do with? I have, it was given to me as a teenager by my aunt. When I opened it, I saw that it was beautiful, and made of glass. Although, I had no idea what it was, I made up in my mind that it had to be an orange juicer. Why on Earth, my very intelligent Aunt would give me an orange juicer was beside me, but it looked pretty so I smiled, and said, ‘thank you.’ After sitting there for a bit, my quizzical thoughts must have created a confused expression on my face, because my family stepped in without me asking and revealed that it was in fact, not an orange juicer, but a ring holder – and that made perfect sense. I loved rings – of course she knew that, which is what led her to present me with a gift she knew I would love and find useful. Thinking on this experience makes me laugh, and it also makes me think of the gift of a child, making me thankful that God in all his wisdom didn’t just throw them to us without instruction, rather he removed confusion by telling us they are a gift and giving us Proverbs 22:6 telling what we are to do with them.
I heard someone say once that, ‘We don’t raise children. We train them. We raise chickens.’ A pretty profound statement if you allow the thought to roll through your mind. When I was a child, my family raised rabbits. We did everything for them. They were helpless, and were never going to live a life outside of the cages my father built for them – totally opposite of our children. Someday, ours will become independent, and it is our God given duty to train them for this transition – and that is one tough job. Training-takes time (lots of it), and involves pain (on both sides). It requires consistency, is every bit intentional, and more often than not feels anything but natural. Naturally speaking – our desire is to step in and get things done. We kiss the pain away. We call the other child’s parents. We talk to the teacher. For us as parents, it’s easy, we know how to handle these situations, and instinctively we desire to unleash the impulse to protect. That gut reaction, however, if we aren’t careful stops their necessary training and limits their ability to process situations. It paralyzes their problem-solving ability, and blinds them from seeing what lies beyond the pain.
Recently, my family and I sat down for our annual Easter egg coloring event. This year, I decided to try a couple of different techniques. The kids were skeptical of the newness and preferred the familiarity of the same old dipping in dye method used in the past. When finished, each stepped back and looked at the beautiful coloring of the eggs. Choosing their favorite, our oldest proudly held hers, and as she did our youngest quickly reached for the egg, took hold and cracked it. The tears were instant. Her heart was broken, and I could feel her pain. As I sat there consoling her, my mind immediately began to wonder, ‘What could I do to stop the pain?’ But at that same moment something told me to STOP and just let her feel this.
As I sat there watching, she slowly put herself together, wiped the tears, and began to look at the eggs. It was in this moment, that I watched the look of dissatisfaction settle in and witnessed an idea work its way through her creative mind as she reached for another egg. With it, she tried something new, and as she finished, she stepped back and a look of satisfaction swept across her face as she proclaimed that this new egg was far better than the one that had been broken.
As I sat in reflection over this, thinking on that egg, and how it’s breaking led to my daughter’s courage to try something new – I was thankful.
- I thanked God for a teachable moment.
- I thanked him for the opportunity to use it to show my children that beautiful things come from painful situations.
- I thanked Him for the personal reinforcement of the importance of training, and allowing them the ability to feel and process emotion.
God not only gives us a job to do, He gives us the tools to get it done.
It is beautiful how God purposely provides every day teachable moments that serve as the tools we need to perform the job he has called us to do. He has trusted us, and given us a job to love our children, and prepare them for the day when these beautiful little people will stand on their own – living life as they see fit. With that life, Heartache is certain, let down will be real, but if we do as we are called, we will have taught them as best we can how to properly navigate the path of brokenness. We will have empowered them to press on trusting God. We will have instilled in them the power of Jeremiah 29:11 when it says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ We will have taught them that yes, pain happens, but sometimes it takes a little bit of pain to push us out of our comfort zone and into a willingness to try something new which will lead us to see the greater beauty of his plan.
I encourage you to take time today – rest in knowing that God himself has hand-picked you as a parent for your child(ren). Meditate on Proverbs 22:6, and as you do, if his charge to train them seems overwhelming – know that you are not alone, and ask God above to give you the ability and know-how to TRAIN them just as he has asked you to do, and take peace that the God on whom you call will lead your every step. Choose him.