936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
I was unaware of its presence, or the tarnish of shame, regret, and remorse it was etching into my spirit. I knew something was not right, but, like in most cases, the eyes of my heart were clouded; I could not see what was going on until one moment of pristine and crude clarity.
And in that moment I found myself curled up in my husband’s arms, salty tears that had long begged to make their escape now cascading down my cheeks. And I made my admission to him.
When my work goes unnoticed. When my schedule meets interruptions. When the stress overwhelms and reminds me that I am human–fallible and finite.
Suddenly I do not recognize me.
The little one who gave me my mama name, he whines. I raise my voice, react in harsh words, and he cries. I see the hurt reflected in those perfect blue eyes, the ones I get lost in when I stop to simply hold his gaze. Now they are glossy, foreboding of wet tears he fights to hold back.
I hold him so close. Whisper apology in his ear. My heart aches at the hurt I have inflicted on his.
We know it at the outset; rubbing that first swollen belly, that the precious one inside that we can hardly wait to hold, caress, kiss–we know that we will pain their tiny, precious heart. Our actions, reactions, and words will leave scars. Our love is fallible. Moms and dads are superhumans, but they’re still humans–fallible and finite.
We know this, but we can’t understand it until we rock the broken child, wipe his salty tears, whisper apologies. With the slip of the tongue we fall short of passing onto them the love of Christ.
This is my heart cry for these mama-of-young-years; they are so few. The time is short. May they create a legacy strung together of gracious words, void of impatient anger and reaction.
Anger is not the sin, in fact, it can be holy. It is a form of passion; of righteous conviction compelling us to uphold good and abhor evil.
The opportunity for sin arises when we must make a decision of how to act in the face of anger.
Harsh words can sting for years–for lifetimes. Opportunities to stop and teach, gently guide, impart life–these can be given over and lost to our flesh reaction, when angry words win over our best intentions.
This is parenting in a nutshell. Navigating these precious, vulnerable souls through early years requires us to answer this one question daily–or sometimes moment by moment:
Our answer to that question will shape our children. My prayer is that most days I answer it well, and that there will be grace for those days when I don’t.
But what exactly does this look like, intention and grace?
It is our words.
It is our expressions.
It is our touch.
When they ask their simple questions–sometimes ten times in one minute–or they test our already tried patience, do our words build up?
When they enter a room, do we greet them with a smile? When they spill the cup of coffee, fortunately now cool, because we haven’t had time in our hectic morning to enjoy it–do our eyes communicate grace?
When they embrace us, searching for the comfort and assurance of our warmth, the flesh they came from, do we linger? Or do we let go first, hurrying onto our next task?
Gracious words that build up, backed by soft eyes and a genuine smile, and reinforced by a hug without time restraints or a gentle stroke of the hair–this is parenting with intention and grace.
Anger has its rightful place–a righteous hatred towards sin–that when I see wrong in my child, I may look past the offense to the root of the infraction.
That I may see the evil which is a fallen world and a merciless adversary who is out to sway my child’s vulnerable soul; and that a hatred of that sin will cause in me a righteous anger to rise up and drive me to my knees in prayer–our greatest defense; our greatest offense.
It is from this position on our knees that the battle for our child’s soul is won or lost.
It is a position of humility, from which we must give up control, and trust the only One who loves these little ones with a love even greater than our own.
And so I pray for him to understand the deeper things of the abundant life, and that I will have the grace to teach him those deeper things through the way I speak, the way I look at him, the way I stroke his hair and welcome his hugs.
And by how I interact with others.
The greatest way I can teach him to speak kind words, to not talk back, and to not raise his voice in anger, is for me to speak kind words to his father, to never speak back harshly, and to never raise my voice in anger.
In order to address his heart issues, I must address my own.
He will learn respect by how I respect my husband. His eyes will hold kindness if that is what he sees in mine.
His words will build up, encourage, and impart life if those are the words he hears in our home.
This is intention and grace–the kind that I am incapable of on my own; the kind that are possible only when I myself rest in perfect love.
This little boy. The one with glossy eyes stung deep by my quick tongue–the one I love so deeply and hurt so thoughtlessly–in him I am reminded of perfect love. Because on that day etched in my mama heart–the one when harsh words stung his precious spirit–he sat surrendered into my embrace, rocking, crying, and then forgiving.
With his kiss, with his “Love you, mama”, with his forgiveness given without a second thought to my offense–I see Christ, and I am reminded of what perfect love looks like.
And it shows me that I must be doing something right–or rather, Christ is doing something right in me–if I can catch a glimpse of this type of love in my son; that infinite love that overcomes impatience and harsh words.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!