Often lately, we’ve found ourselves there stuck between emotion and disappointment. Tears threatened to fall from her reddening, yet stubborn eyes as she stood before me while doing her best not to look directly at me. I leaned over her lording big controlling words meant to strip down her actions to unthoughtful disobedience aimed to hurt and defy.
There we stood, worlds apart screaming at the moon wanting love without give trouncing on delicate soil uninvited yet demanding so long to lullabies equaling love I know she loves me. She knows I love her, but there are times lately when I feel absolutely lost parenting Elizabeth, my oldest. The fact that she’s only approaching her teen years intimidates me, especially when others are quick to respond that I should brace myself for when she is a teenager. And the waves won’t quit as my younger daughters race to break on those teen shores, too. As we near then, the joke of owning an escape cabin visited monthly sways further from comedy and closer to reality. Until I own a cabin, patience must be cultivated in my thorny heart.
“There will be times when you won’t like me very much, and I need you to understand that I’m okay with that.”
Patience hangs from a branch rooted in love and there my heart finds clarity and returns to Christ-led parenting.
In times overrun by emotion and disappointment in my shortcomings as a parent and her defiance as a child, I grow impatient and irate and steal moments from guiding love sharp enough to cut through the most mired emotional tangles. Simply put, I am my own worst enemy as a parent when my love is based more on my kids liking me than me loving them. And by loving them, I mean caring enough to wage steady war against their little hearts set selfishly inward, evidenced by possessive pronouns littering their speak. The real challenge is in separating from my own selfish heart enough to let the love of Christ guide me as a parent rather than my heart mercenarily demanding obedience for love.
Love doesn’t demand; obedience blooms in a heart loved so well.
Like a veteran gardener plucking weeds from good soil, I vigilantly remind myself to hold higher value to where we’re going instead of how we’re getting there. And this is important to remember, for it’s easy to get lost in wanting to be loved back by your children. If I will love her defiant heart well, I must set myself as an enemy to her heart.
Practically speaking, her tears shouldn’t shape the way I love her, neither should her accusations of me not understanding her and not caring about how she feels. My role is to lead her through fierce times where Love will be saving grace. Lots of parenting can be left to positioning - how I position my heart, will determine how I’m able to reach through innate selfishness that plagues their little hearts as it plagues and preys on all human hearts. My goal is to set them free, free to love truthfully.
In short, parenting is the most difficult thing an adult will ever aspire to do.