I think, for me, a lot of molding has been done since I became a mother. (Could I possibly talk about this again? Yes. Yes I can.)
You see, Sarah has been the answer to my prayer for patience. Patience isn't a gift you're handed, it's a virtue you learn. And it's not even a virtue that I believe someone can come to on their own. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Love and joy, those are easier to embody, especially once you have kids. Patience, however, is something I personally have had to rely on to come from the help that lies Deep Within. Sarah has found sure-fire ways to test my patience, and I find my reactions dramatically different on days when I wake up and remember to ask God's Holy Spirit to guide me versus days I think I can handle things on my own. Long story short - I cannot handle things on my own. No matter how good I think I am.
And I have to tell you, after having three kids, I think I'm pretty good. Seeing as how Ben and Abby were and remain to this day complete and total opposites both in looks and in personality, I thought I had all of the bases covered when it came to parenting. We have the strong-willed (aka "stubborn") academic type in Ben. And we have the boundlessly energetic, whimsical, more-dramatic type in Abby. Both of which required totally different parenting techniques. We learned and we adapted. And we were really good at it.
We had it all figured out...
...then we had Sarah.
She has taken their personality traits and combined them into a dangerous combination of strong-willed with boundless energy and she's topped it off with an excessive dose of independence. We're still learning and adapting, but I'm not sure anyone really knows what to do with this type of personality in a two year old. She's awesome. Don't get me wrong. But she's not easy. And I think she is a gift given to me from God for this purpose:
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:12Zing. Turns out, we have a lot to learn. And I know I've been humbled.
Turns out, my kids have taught me a lot. And here I thought it was my job to teach them. I'm not off the hook - it still is my job.
As they get older and start to feel influences other than from their (so humble) righteous parents, I get to pull out my biblical wisdom and share it with them, just like my dad used to with me when I thought the world was unfair and I was looking for commiseration. (I rarely got it.)
When Ben asks why he has to be good when everyone else is being bad, I can tell him:
Because if we know what's right we're duty-bound to do what's right.
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. James 4:17
When Ben asks why teachers have higher expectations of him than some of his classmates, I can tell him:
Because he was blessed with the ability to know and discern and achieve more.
But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48When he asks why we have "so many rules" and (in turn) consequences?
I can tell him because we love him enough to discipline him. (Minor soapbox here: I don't really think we have "so many rules", but I do think that many parents choose not to have any, which I am sure does make it hard to understand for a seven year old.)
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11I guess children are a gift in way more ways than one. An unexpected benefit is how much more I've been convicted about what I believe through my relationship with them. It's like God giving us a small glimpse of what it's like to be our Heavenly Father. We love these kids unconditionally, even when they're far from perfect, and even when it seems they don't deserve it.
That's it for today, folks - I have to go because Sarah is currently scaling the shelves in Abby's closet. She is determined to play Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Right now.
"Lord, give me patience." (wink, wink)