by Becky White
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Parenting has many seasons and each holds unique challenges and blessings. First there is surviving the all-encompassing exhaustion of infancy and the endless physical demands of the toddler years. In those years we also experience the sweetness of innocence and trust in ways that show us the dependence God longs for us to have with him. The physical contact and affection can be both a sweet gift and a huge drain but God uses those years to grow our endurance, to show us our selfishness and our need for his grace in our lives so we can extend it to others.
The preschool years are full of questions and challenges as our children learn to think and act independently from us. But, at the end of the day they still long for us and it’s a huge gift to be able to satisfy their needs just by being present in their lives and loving them where they are. In my experience the elementary school years have been a more peaceful season–the kids are more independent, but not too independent and as parents we are finding our stride and beginning to feel more confident (we’re also sleeping more, so that helps!). Then, adolescence hits — sometimes all at once, sometimes it creeps up on you — but it comes. This season is full of new experiences in parenting that challenge that growing confidence and teach us to stay humble and reliant on God. There is joy in watching our children change into young adults but inevitably there are “growing pains” for both parents and children and the need for God’s grace becomes more and more evident in both their and our hearts. Finally, there’s the highschool graduation, the moving-out and those children that we once held in our arms are now beyond arm’s reach and living their own lives. As a parent, our prayer life becomes everything as we realize all the seeds we planted and cultivated so carefully are not necessarily ours to harvest; rather the “Lord of the Harvest” will be the one to bring about the growth, and He was the one doing the planting all along.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like the “yoke” of parenting that I carry is easy and light. The weight on my heart for my children to know God and trust him can feel crushing. My fallback in those times is to doubt God’s goodness and wonder why He isn’t coming through for me and my kids. I focus on my stress and the burden I feel for my childrens’ souls. But, praise God for his mercy and grace! He is too good to leave me in my doubts and gently and patiently reveals where my perspective is wrong and needs to change. In repentance, I find that the reason my load is heavy is because I fail to trust his goodness and greater love for my kids. The weight of leading them to trust Him is his to carry, not mine. I find it easy to believe the lie that I’m alone instead of believing the truth that He is always with us and his grace is sufficient. I carry unnecessary weight because my attempt to do everything “right” forgets to rely on God’s strength, and attempts to save my children through my own effort rather than waiting on God to work in them through the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
In the end, the “seasons of parenting” are all fully encompassed by the grace of God. His strength carries us through every step. God uses parenting to reveal to us more of his own heart and to shape us more into the likeness of Jesus. This privilege of parenting and teaching the truth of God’s Word to the next generation is God’s gift to us. Our children’s salvation is God’s gift to them (just as it is to us) and He will see that work completed in their lives.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…”
2 Corinthians 1:3