I read lots of books, blogs and articles on parenting. I listen to podcasts. When I see parents I admire, I seek them out and ask for their input and advice. I’m all about good principals, best practices, practical wisdom…. I love it.
In the midst of this avalanche of parenting advice and wisdom, I always come back to a short phrase God whispered in my ear 7 years ago.
“Lindsey, stay the course.”
My 2 year old son was in the bathroom, ranting and raging. Tears were flowing and fists were clenched. I was outside the door, like a PTSD victim about to go back into another raging battle, shaking at the sound of every gunshot (or scream, as the case may be).
As I stood outside the door, I contemplated the correct plan of action. I was tossing up hail Mary prayers to Jesus. Honestly, I was hoping some magical formula would resolve this behavioural issue. What I really wanted was to lock myself in a closet with a good book and coffee, oblivious to the outside world! This son came out of the womb with boxing gloves on and it lasted for years. Those who know him now can testify to his tender and emotional heart. But we went through some rough years together.
As I stood outside the door God put in my heart those words, “Lindsey, stay the course.”
I knew what He was saying:
Don’t grow weary in doing good.
Don’t expect results today.
Wake up each day and faithfully parent and love this child.
Hour by hour persistence.
The goal is not to be the perfect parent, but to faithfully parent imperfectly.
Never truer were the word of Euguene Peterson than it is for parenting: parenting is “a long obedience in the same direction”.
The growth was slow. The softening of his heart was like a glacial melt. At least that is what it felt like to us in the midst of the minute by minute faithfulness.
My husband and I didn’t always get it right. I lost my own temper many times and I’m not proud of that. My husband would turn him over to me and I would return the favor on other days. He’d walk in the door and I would say, “Your son is in time-out in the bathroom… as you can surely hear from down the street!”.
He wasn’t that bad… but for two weary parents, it was hard and baffling.
But, we stayed the course. We didn’t give up or throw in the towel. We stopped demanding change today. We began trusting for change over time. For that I am proud.
I, now, pass on the words of the Father to you.
Weary and wobbly parent, stay the course. One foot in front of the other. Even if, today, it feels like no change is happening. Don’t give up and tap out. The Father sees your hour by hour persistence and He’s right there with you. Our kids don’t have perfect parents… they’ve got a perfect Heavenly Father.
Remind yourself on days when you wonder if you are doing it right or want to give up:
Parenting is a long obedience in the same direction.
Parenting is not daily victories and quick results. Daily, faithfully, cultivate that garden. In the end it is God who will give the growth.
Parent, stay the course.