As a Mom, we are given one of the highest callings. I feel as though I have heard it all before, "You are their theologian", "You are their most important teacher", "You have the ability to lead them." I agree with all of those. But I never understood the true gravity, the depth, the gumption, the weight behind it all until I was forced to put it into practice.
Two years ago, I took a parenting class; I had two options at Church for the women's Bible Study--one was the parenting class and the other was to study a book of the Bible in detail. I was torn because I really enjoy studying word for word through a book to understand the context; besides, I told myself, my kids are great, well-behaved, good enough children. I was proud of who they were, that they were generally very respectful, all the hours and consistent training I had endured, what I had accomplished with them, how they presented themselves in public, and how they acted. But I decided to take the parenting class in hopes of getting to know more Moms as I had not totally reached out to anyone.
The first week, I was brought to weeping tears when I discovered just how crucial my role was--my pride was swept up in my kids' outward appearances, my heart was full of ugliness because my kids obeyed and theirs didn't, my kids knew who was boss and that they knew they needed to listen to me and their Dad. But wow, I have been broken many times in the last three years, and you would think I would be used to it as my pride continually has been shattered over and over, but I did not expect the weight of what was missing to hit me so hard.
My heart. Their hearts. I had missed it. I had not only passively missed it, I bypassed it completely to focus on external things. I had set up my children to be obedient idols to hopefully incite jealousy all to boost my own pride. I had been humbled yet again, with good reason.
In my few years of parenting, I trained them to obey and had pretty well succeeded. But what occurred to me when studying this book was that their roots were lacking. I had not watered them properly to encourage their hearts and their consciences to think for themselves. What an empty wasteland I had encouraged. And my heart was no different.
I repented a lot while studying that book, cried through almost every chapter as the Lord worked more on my heart and understanding to really get it through how I ought to be living needed to first be changed, then I could pass that along to my children. I couldn't very well teach them heart and knowledge issues if my heart was hard and my eyes blind.
Then my husband and I attended a Sunday School class about parenting, that is enforcing the ideas behind the first book. The first class we sat in the back, thank goodness, because I started weeping uncontrollably. Seriously. I could not stop. And it was ugly crying. The weight of my responsibility as a Mother had hit again.
It reinforced to me the gravity of what God had called us to as parents. It is the hard things in life that this really comes into play that I have been made more aware of. It means protecting your kids when God calls you to; even if that means you need to fully cut off family members. It means living out that God is number one; even if that means you need to confront those around you who have evil patterns of sin and destruction. It means living out your life in accordance to His Word; especially so your children can see you strive to honor God. It means choosing His path; especially so your children can witness you doing hard things to keep His commands. It mean confessing your sinfulness in front of your kids; especially so your children can know that you are not perfect. It means apologizing to your kids when you have wronged them or acted out of anger; especially so that your children can know that you do not expect perfection from them, but that their hearts are in the right place. It means living transparently and being open and honest to invite them to also live that way. It means encouraging them to not keep secrets as that may lead to a secret life one day. It means so much. It really means so much and when you stop to think about the gravity of it all, and how that has played out in your life, with the steps you have been called to take to raise your kids, it can feel overwhelming.
Not overwhelming in a sense of despair, but in how much God has brought us through and led us to this point. We have had to endure a lot to raise our kids in a way that we feel God desires us to, and it is SO worth it. I know I would give up the world and all it's riches, and glory, and people, if God will be their God in the end. I would do it all over again.
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'" Matthew 16:24
I am slowly understanding now the gravity of this statement and what it means in this life to live this out. We have a cross to bear as Christians and I pray that God may continue to peel back the layers over my eyes to see His truth accomplished in my life and through my life.