Wednesday, 2 March 2016

How to Shine in the Impossibility of Parenting



Once upon a time, a long time ago,  I read an article about building cathedrals

It forever changed the way I envisioned  the seemingly never-ending impossibility of motherhood. 

I was inspired... yes, encouraged to keep building, even if no one sees, even if no one knows my name, or the countless sacrifices I make. 

So day in, day out, I build... minute by minute...never stopping, never resting...

But... the bricks are crumbling around me. 

No matter how carefully and painstakingly I lay them, they just don't seem to be holding up.

Mondays are the worst.

It is then that I feel most smothered in the dust as they come tumbling down. I grope around, unable to make out anything through the smog; I can't barely breathe through the suffocating thickness... can't even see where to lay the next brick... yet He asks me to keep on building.

How, Lord? 

How do I keep on building when I can't see past the fog? 

So, I wrestled with the Lord. 

Lord, I know You see and I know why I should build... deep down I know my labour is not in vain... But how? 

How do I do it?

You see, I'm a practical girl... I need the 'know-how', the steps to take... the over-arching vision that guides me as I lay yet. another. brick. 

So I asked and I waited. 

'Keep calm and shine on!' There it was again. Keep calm... remember who I AM, and shine on... do the next right thing. 

But, how God? You know; it is really hard to do the next right thing when you don't know what the next right thing to do is. 

So, I searched the scriptures and opened my ears to listen to what God was really saying to me. 

I felt God calling me to 'always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere'. (1 Corinthians 13:7) 

But there was one little problem. A.L.W.A.Y.S. That little word loomed large over my head. I felt its condemning glare. I can't 'always' anything.

I need more, Lord. How can I 'always' lovingly build as you have called me to?

Then I understood. It was as if God shone His light directly into my heart and I finally saw. 


Keep calm and SHINE on!

Keep calm! Remember who I AM, My abiding presence is always with you. When your vision is clouded... look up and remember the cloud of My glory. 
'Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40: 34-35
And remember... 
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
Turns out, on days, Mondays even, when the smog grows thick, I simply have to look up or rather look in and remember... remember the abiding presence of God... always there... always present... protecting me and guiding me... always. 

That little word 'always' was beginning to look a whole lot better. 

So, my friends, I was beginning to grasp it; in the impossibility of parenting, God's abiding presence makes it possible to SHINE


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S - Set healthy boundaries with unconditional love.

When it comes to parenting, boundaries are essential to protect our children and guide them into becoming the persons God created them to be. But admittedly, some boundaries tend to be controlling and selfishly motivated. God reminds me to consider my child, and set boundaries in a loving way in order for my child to feel loved and secure.  
Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. Proverbs 19:18 
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Colossians 3:21
Consider: Have I set clear expectations for my children that are motivated by unconditional love and lovingly enforced? 


H - Hold the criticisms and comparisons

When my buttons are pushed as so often happens in parenting, I often respond first and think after. But my tongue has the power of life and death and sometimes, I hurt the ones I love with demeaning or derogatory comments. Sounds harsh, but true! Am I the only one? 

Our children are created in the image of God and are each unique and special. Nothing we say should make them feel less than 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. 
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
Consider: Do I pause and ponder the power of my words before I react to my children? 


I - Imitate God - be present, protect and guide

When a parent surrenders to God; she teaches by her very example. This does not mean I try to live a righteous life in front of my kids by my own strength. That, my friends, is impossible. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but as we remain in Him, we are transformed and we shine - we become bright with the reflected light of God's glory. 

Furthermore, just as God's abiding presence protects and guides us, so we too should protect and guide our children, but maybe even more importantly we should aim to be fully present with them - a feat that is not so easy in our (digitally) distracting world. 
Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children. Ephesians 5:1
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4
Consider: Am I daily spending time in the presence of my Father and allowing His grace to transform me? Do my actions point my children to Christ?  Am I so busy and distracted that I fail to be 'present' with them?



N - Never, ever quit, never stop believing, never stop trusting, never lose hope

Yes, we may grow weary, but remembering God's abiding presence, and entering the sweet rest He offers makes it possible to Keep. On. Building! 
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (Amplified Bible)
Consider: Do I draw daily from God's infinite power or do I give in to discouragement and selfish desires?  



E - Encourage, encourage, encourage

And finally, my friends, encourage them by our words and actions. Embrace them as they are, image-bearers of our heavenly Father, searching, growing and prayerfully becoming who He has designed them to be.
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, Colossians 2:2
Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2b
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Consider: When my children face the consequences of their actions, do I come alongside them and lovingly encourage them or are my actions harsh and rules-based? 



What about you? 

Are you shining in the impossibility of parenting?  

Have you met the One who makes it all possible? 

Perhaps you have, but you have somehow lost your luster. 

I encourage you, my friends, to spend some time 
beholding the glory of His presence, 
coming alongside Him, and learning from Him.

My prayer is that as you come down off of the mountaintop, 
and walk back into the fray of parenting, 

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This post shared today at Amy's blog: Busy Boys Brigade, a wonderful site for all things homeschool. 


This post also shared at Coffee & Conversation Link Party hosted by Pat and Candy.

6 comments:

  1. Amen, Carlie! I want to SHINE for my kids but I know this means first spending time on the mountain of the Lord. Otherwise, doing it on my own strength will be tiring and downright impossible. Thanks so much for sharing what you're learning from your own struggles and victories. You are an inspiration!
    Blessings!

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    1. Marva, thanks for always sharing some sparkle my way. Your encouragement is much appreciated.

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  2. What an encouraging post. I agree there are times parenting can be such a tough job. To live and sacrifice plenty for the sake of others is a difficult, but if we just remember why we do it and who we do it for, it'll be that much more worth it in the end. Thanks so much for sharing this on #SHINEbloghop this week :)

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Maria!

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  3. Thank you for sharing Carlie! I can't begin to tell you how encouraged I feel. Parenting is indeed a challenge even when our children are young adults or especially when the are young adults and challenge what you know is right in the eyes of God. Blessings!

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    1. My dear, Andrea, I read this again today, because I needed it, too. I'm so thankful it encouraged you as well. Let's keep on 'keeping-on', and promise to pray for each other as we seek to shine in the impossibility of parenting. Much love and hugs!

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