Sunday, January 31, 2010

Leaning In

I've never been oblivious to the fact that parenting can be a trek—an up-hill-hot-day-black-flies-no-water trek at times. These days come and go, and often with a descent nap or an evening out I am able to settle back in, pull my babies close, kiss them tenderly, and keep on hiking.

But lately I've noticed a shift—not in my children—they remain gloriously obvious to the hike, running on ahead—and this is just as it should be! How terrible would it be for them to have any grasp of my parenting frustrations! No, the shift is in me. The walk seems harder, the hill steeper, my pack heavier than usual, and over the course of the last few weeks I've been wrestling with the reasons.

Am I failing at this thing called parenting? Maybe I'm not really cut out to do this. Are my children more difficult than other people's children? Is my own particular climb a little steeper, perhaps?

No. No, I concluded finally. My children are normal human children and my climb is no more difficult than anyone else's—in fact—it's quite a bit less steep than the climb many others have made, and are making. No, I decided. The shift isn't circumstantial. It's internal.

Fabulous. More heart work.

I've always kind of liked the idea of being good at a lot of things—never getting too hung up on being excellent at only one thing. Hey, love diversity, right?

God: "Not this time."
Me: "but—"
God: "These people, these small sparks of humanity are one of my greatest gifts to you. Are you going to waste my gifts?"
Me: "Um—"
God: "Yes. They are challenging at times. Beautifully so. I planned it that way because I want you to look to Me for parenting guidance. I'm a pretty good Dad, you know."
Me: "Oh ya."
God: "I want you to be excellent. I want you to lean in to this."
Me: "But it's hard! It's a lot easier to focus some—ok—a lot of energy on other gifts you've given me. Gifts that don't try my patience, or push my buttons, or puke on me, or . . ."
God: " . . .Or make you realize your need? Make you depend on Me? Make you realize what responsibility and sacrifice mean in real life? Force you to set yourself aside? Allow you to recognize selfishness when it shackles your heart?"
Me: *silence*
God: "Lean into this. Lean into these gifts because I have something beautiful to show you about Myself through them. Let go of the things you think are best because I have something far better in mind. I want to show you what it means to love, and to be loved. Lean in. I have given you these children—My children—for their benefit, and for yours. And I am not in the habit of making mistakes. I never have been."
Me: *wipes tears away* "Ok Abba."

So, as I type this tonight I've quit climbing. Right now I'm just leaning in. Pressing into the the broad, strong back of my Father God as He carries me and my babies up this hill. And it's beautiful.

"He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."
—Isaiah 40:11


  1. *tears. Right there with you.
    love you.

  2. You have spoken into the heart of every parent. While I LOVE this season of life, I often complain about how hard it is. But, of course, that is when I do it in my own power. I pray that we all lean in a bit more and stop trying to do it on our own.