You all are never going to believe this….ever. I listened to a great sermon today, and it was NOT Judah Smith! Haha! Sometimes, I ask myself, “Do I ever listen to any besides Judah?” Truth is that I do, but I listen to Judah a lot. Anyway, today I listened to Death to Selfie by Steven Furtick. It was awesome. If you haven’t listened to it. You SO should. It is awesome in talking about being okay with you! Not putting on a front or faking it or acting like you don’t face things in life because the truth is we all do…no matter how we appear.
Anyway, this really touched me in my parenting, and it honestly wasn’t parenting focused at all! I need to back track a little first. So I hit this sweet little farmers’ market that sells a lot of organic produce in Sewickley with one of my favorite friends this past weekend. We laughed. She brought me a bag to hold my stuff so I looked like I belonged. We bought some great organic produce. Drank some coffee. On the way home, I was talking to her about Emme. And Emme is so me. She is her momma, and I have been struggling with discipline lately. So I was sharing my issue, and my good friend said, “Remember, she’s two!” Basically, be patient. She isn’t 6 or 7. She’s gonna make mistakes, and don’t expect perfection. Well, duh! Don’t I know that? After all, I am the one who tells you constantly that perfection is an illusion! And, it is! Especially in the behavior department for a 2 1/2 year old kid.
You see shaping the heart of a child is a struggle. Why? Because they have a sin nature. Because everything is mine! Because they were born fallible, and we have to guide their hearts to God and love and away from me first. But this world teaches a me first mentality. Rewards it. But in the kingdom of God, it is so different. In the heart of a god aware, content person, it’s not me first. It’s God first. And in doing so, I can trust the God who loves me to lead me and guide me and protect me along the way as I use my life to serve God and others. But that has to be taught to a child.
I am not perfect. I lose my cool. I do things I swear I won’t do again. My thoughts go back to perfection, and I strive when I should rest. I revert to the negative voice in my head condemning myself instead of trusting God to be present in my EVERY moment from laundry, to dishes, to cooking, to playing with my kids, and to disciplining my kids. But often times, I get in my own way. I yell. I say words I wish I could take back. I sweat the small stuff.
But Steven Furtick reminds me that while my name may be Amanda humanly, God has given me a new name and identity spiritually. I am as Jesus is in this world even though I don’t show it all the time and sometimes I wonder where His image is. I have to keep going back to my connection, to my power source…my relationship with Him, His word, and His Spirit, and my identity as righteous in Christ. And Steven said the coolest thing. He said God is comfortable in my struggle to live as I really am, not how I see myself. He’s not angry. He’s not turning away. He’s not shaking His head. He knows it’s a journey. One where I will succeed and fail along the way! But He is not giving up, and He will continue to tell me who I really am.
So how does that connect with my parenting? Well, God told me I can be patient in Emme’s struggle to shape and live out of her heart. I am still learning these lessons at almost 33. She’s only 2. This is daily. I will preach the same messages to her over and over about who she is. She’s a good listener to mommy, daddy, and Jesus. She’s obedient. She’s joyful. She loves others and freely shares with them. She is part of our family’s team and helps each of us out. And I don’t have to be angry when I don’t see those things every moment. I can understand that it is a struggle to die to self and be patient along the way. Why? Because that is exactly who God is to me.
I can’t tell you how many times I have royally messed up as a parent, and I have heard God so sweetly say to me, “That’s not who you are. Don’t believe the lie. You are patient and kind and self-controlled and loving.” Right at the moment when I just want to beat myself up. So what do I do? I apologize to Emme. I thank Jesus that He loves and hasn’t given up one me, and I get connected back to my power source and look in the greatest mirror: His Word. The mirror that shows me who I really am, and each day, I become more and more like Him.
I am thankful He is comfortable in my struggle and enables me to be comfortable in my child’s struggle because my trust is not in me. It’s in Him!