Formulas belong in math, not parenting
I think we all long for control. And as moms, we all long for that special formula that will give us the results we so desire. The little years are exhausting (can I get an amen?), but there is something in them that eases my tired heart: control.
For now, I can control their environment. I can make sure they are safe to learn, play, and grow. For now, their poor choices are easily corrected with a time out, discussion, and hug. For now, I can keep them from bad company and distract them from poor role models. For now, so much of their existence is within my control. But I fully know as time passes on the day is coming when they will exercise their own free will. And that is scary because I can't control it.
Because we desire control over the things we fear, I think we also have a propensity to search for a formula that will guarantee results. You can find these formulas everywhere, from radio, tv, books, and yes, even blogs. If you can just do x, y, & z, you'll raise happy, healthy, & Godly children they promise.
But the truth is, formulas work in math, they don't work in parenting because we have all been given free will. And here, we get a glimpse of our Father's heart.
Even in the best of circumstances, children and adults go astray--it's been that way since the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had everything--right down to walking and talking with God! It doesn't get better than that, but there was no formula to keep them from making bad decisions. Soon after, we see Cain. In Genesis 4:6-7 God Himself warned Cain that sin was at his door; yet, he still made that terrible decision. There are no formulas--and even in the presence of Perfection, we humans tend to make poor decisions.
I so long that my sons will grow to make wise decisions. And we are doing the best we can to teach and train them. I pray they follow the Lord with their whole hearts. But I also know those are their decisions, there are no formulas to guarantee the outcomes I desire.
So what's a mom to do?
The only things we can do. We follow God wholeheartedly. We pursue and love Him with all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our minds. We do the best we can as fallen, human women (and men, though this is written for moms I am not excluding your husband) to raise our children before Him. We storm the gates of Heaven in prayer for our children and we do. not. stop. because the enemy of our souls is out to devour.
And if, in a moment of time, our children make decisions that crush our hearts, we cry out to our Father who knows that pain. He knows what it is to give the one you love the best of everything, and watch them throw it all away. He knows the pain and anguish of watching a child hurt themselves as they fall further into sin. He knows how we would give anything to save them . . . that's why Jesus gave everything to save us.
Friend, this life is uncertain. Control and formulas will fail us--but more than that, they take our focus off of Christ. If we could guarantee outcomes, we would not need to trust Him and follow Him with everything we have. Our limitations direct our focus to Him. Our fears lead us back to the One who tells us not to fear. Our broken hearts lead us back to the One whose heart was broken first.
If your heart is broken today by a wayward child, my heart is breaking with yours. I am choking back tears as I write and pray for you right now. I pray the Lord tenderly comforts your heart. I pray He gives you wisdom, strength, and endurance to pray unceasingly. I pray He places followers around you who will walk with you and pray.
And friend, as much as we like control, we also like to search for reasons. Society loves to point fingers. Please know, our responsibility is to raise our children before God to the best of our abilities. We are to do it all for His glory--but the outcomes do not rest on our shoulders. We are human, we will make mistakes, but each of us are individually accountable for our own decisions and actions.
Where we make mistakes in parenting, we repent and rely on God's grace and mercy as we learn to do better. We do what He asks of us and follow Him completely--that is our responsibility. If your child is wayward today, it does. not. mean. you failed before God. The enemy of our souls will use finger pointing and shame to tie our souls down and keep us from boldly approaching the throne in prayer. Don't let him lie to you friend. Keep following God with your whole heart, keep serving Him to the best of your abilities, and keep praying for your child.
This post is a little more sober than I tend to write, but it has been on my heart for a long time. As mothers and parents, we cannot put our faith into formulas and outcomes. Our faith belongs only in Christ. In our interactions, conversations, and writing, we must be mindful of that. We can share tips, advice, and insight. We can make wise decisions in how we raise our families. But there are no formulas . . . only God's grace for each one of us.
May we be women who keep our eyes and trust steadfastly fixed on Christ rather than formulas.