Probably one of the most, if not THE most, difficult responsibility I have ever been handed in my life thus far. I started on the parenting journey at the ripe young age of 18 when I got pregnant just after graduating High School. Besides all of the drama and conflict I have went through the last 8.5 years of my life concerning the consequences of getting pregnant unwed and with a boy who had no concern for anyone other than himself… it hasn’t been easy in any way. Let’s just say there have been a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns to navigate. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean.
One of the hardest things for me on this journey so far was my need to make sure everything was taken care of and that my son wouldn’t live a hard life because of my mistakes. I had taken on a lot of guilt and shame for placing him into a not so ideal situation. I knew that because of my sin, he would also suffer the consequences of it. He would have to live in the world I created for him. That guilt and shame wrecked and controlled me for a very long time.
Not only did I put his life into some crazy whirlwind of uncertainty, but there were a lot of times when his safety was 100% out of my control. These times were definitely the hardest because I really had to trust that God was taking care of him and protecting him. I had no control over where he would be taken to or who he would be left with and there is a very scary element to that. I did find out later some things that happened to him while he was not under my care and it is possibly the worst feeling I have ever felt on this journey so far. It gave the enemy another chance to bring tall of that shame and guilt back to me once again. To tell me it was all my fault and that now my son would be even more screwed up. I thought it was bad before but now it would be worse. But then, God.
God spoke to me very specifically about my child and the calling and destiny He had placed on his life and how he would turn so many hearts to God. He told me that yes, I did create a different world for him to live in but that He could still use me and he would still use Elijah. He told me He would begin using him even now at his very young age. “The things he has seen and went through will give him strength. He will be like a rock for many people who are hurting. His troubles will build him a firm foundation of trust and reliance on Me, and he will be okay. I have more love for him than you do. Do you not know this?”
That’s what is so cool about God. God sees everything as fixable. We see our circumstances and our situations and can’t see past the emotion of it most of the time. It seems overwhelming and exhausting and God just sees a canvas. He sees a page with lines going every direction, scribbles, and things marked out and He thinks “Hmmm, what beautiful thing can I create out of this?”. There is always an eraser in one of God’s hands and a pencil in the other. It’s all fixable.
God isn’t scared of our huge failures and He isn’t worried about the final outcome. He already knows it and He already has our way out planned. He has actually already FIXED all of it. The creator knows exactly what to do to fix something that has been broken or damaged, which is why we contact a company when we have an issue with our washing machine or our heater goes out. We may not know what to do, but someone else does. And I don’t know about you but any time I have tried to fix something that I already knew I wasn’t prepared to fix, I just messed it up even more! It’s all fixable.
Not only did God help me with dealing with guilt and shame and give me a hope for Elijah’s future, but He has helped me so much in all of the practical ways. Which that’s what we need on the daily. Parenting isn’t always a super spiritual moment where your child asks you deep theological questions and is wanting to know the answers to life. No, sometimes parenting is getting through the day without losing your patience and yelling. Sometimes it is slowing down enough to notice you’ve been nodding your head yes and no while staring at your iPhone, not truly listening to a word your child is saying. (GUILTY!)
When Elijah was having a terrible time at school with behavior and I was at my wits end with him, God showed me a deeper level of grace and understanding. He led me to books about positive parenting and how to communicate better with my son. I felt led to read “The 5 Love Languages of Children” which truly helped me understand my sons need for quality time and physical touch. I poured time into my child, intentionally. I made sure to hug him or hold his hand more often. I began looking him in the eyes more often when we were talking. Even when he seemed annoyed, I asked him specific questions about his day at school. I have always been interested in my child, but I wasn’t showing him I was in a way he understood. His issues at school, fixable.
I hate not being on time. If I am not 15 minutes early I feel like I’m late and anyone else who is like this and has kids knows how frustrating it can be because most kids have no sense of time and couldn’t care less about getting somewhere in a timely manner (unless it involves nerf guns and ice cream). This was a huge problem for us, especially in the morning. I wanted Elijah to have some responsibilities to encourage his executive skills so we set up a system of chores in the morning for him to do which was a great idea besides the fact that this would take extra time in our daily routine. I set a timer for breakfast. I made a list of his chores (breakfast, get dressed, make bed, feed dogs, brush teeth). He was to check mark them off as he finished and he set a stop watch to time himself for each chore, trying to beat his time every morning. For every chore he finished he would receive a popsicle stick to store in a cup we keep in our laundry room.
I also created a rewards page with extra ways to earn the sticks. Kind words, extra reading time, a good day at school being nice to the dogs, etc. There is also however a side of consequences. Being mean to the dogs, yelling in the house, talking with disrespect, complaining, etc. For each one of these offenses, depending on the severity, we take away sticks.
This gave him the motivation to work hard at changing his behavior with a reward but also realizing that when he chooses badly, he would receive a consequence. He gets to turn in sticks for rewards like extra iPad time, staying up later on a weekend, playing a family game, choosing a toy out of the toy bin I filled. Your Childs behavior at home? Fixable.
Do not fear. Do not worry. Seek God and ask him for guidance in the big moments, and in the small ones. He is there beside you and He knows what your child needs. He knows what you need, and He wants to show it to you. It’s all fixable.