The Reward In The Release
August 20, 2018
Verse for the Week: I Peter 5:7-6; “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Holy cow—parenting is hard. Every age and every stage invokes a new-found fear that threatens an anxiety I’ve never known before.
For most of us, parenting follows a crazy learning curve even when we’ve had stellar models and mentors. Why? Because children are as unique as snowflakes. Each one comes into this world with an entirely individual soul print, agenda, and destination.
Looking back over my time as a parent, I have to admit the hardest part was not raising my children as a single mom, although that challenge is very high on the list. But my biggest struggle is trusting God with them. Even now, as my kids enter adulthood, I’ve never felt more vulnerable. More helpless. More in need of divine intervention and less willing to pursue it.
The only explanation—the stakes are higher the older they get, and the less influence I seem to have. I’ve come to believe this lapse in faith is a product of praying for one thing and receiving another.
Initially, this incites disappointment, even anger. I can’t understand why the God I love with an unrivaled passion, and the God I trust with my own life doesn’t answer as I think He should. This is confusing, and little by little, I pull the children I have entrusted to His care back into my own insecurity. This effort is to produce the outcome I have determined in my mind, the one I’ve prayed for in desperation.
Like me, you probably take back the reins when your own expectations don’t line up with your experience. This disconnect causes us to panic, and all that we’ve hoped and dreamed possible for our children morphs into fragmented fear.
Even when this frenzied fear is at the forefront of our thoughts, the reality of parenting is that we cannot control the outcome any more than our parents controlled our own. All of us are children of God and a product of the world in which we live. Our decisions reflect our uniqueness. And our ultimate destiny is not in the hands of parents; it is in our relationship with the Almighty One.
Scripture confirms that children are gifts from God, and although they don’t always seem like gifts from God, they are—Psalm 127:3 (NLT); “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”
Our challenge as parents is to open this gift without expectation. We’ve been given the opportunity of influence, not composition. We are to shepherd our children not manipulate who they will become. We are to lead them when they are little. And love them as they learn to lead themselves when they are older.
Honestly, this is just hard. We aren’t given instruction guides or owners manuals. And we lack clear-cut rules of engagement. So in our deficiency, we tend to confuse our responsibility to shepherd the flock with our need to control them.
Does this mean we allow poor choices or destructive behavior to go without consequences or correction? No. But shepherding by nature is relational, not dictatorial. Especially as our children get older, we are challenged to go against the grain of our hardwired expectations in the moment of disappointment and approach with love, not rejection.
This posture of parenting takes humility. It’s an exercise of submission. It’s releasing them from our expectations to be become what God is forming them to be. Our scripture verse this week sheds a bright light on the reward of humbling ourselves in this way. For when we do, anxiety will flee.
Therefore, the reward is in the release.
The universal parent trap of helplessness began with Adam and Eve—the first family unit. With no models to precede them, they forged into parenthood with Cain and Abel at their feet only to find the horror of burying a son.
Following close behind were the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Israelite nation—Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel—all of which also experienced the crippling powerlessness of parenting.
And yet our greatest example of a parents’ helplessness is in Mary as she collapsed at the foot of the cross, a broken heart beating wildly in her chest, and tears streaming down her cheeks as she wrestled with the pain and the purpose of her greatest gift and grandest responsibility.
Helplessness. Hopelessness. Heartbreak. We will cycle through this parent trap as we go. But if we can endure, and humble our expectations under the mighty hand of God, we will find the reward is in the release.
Helplessness is the universal parent trap. It steals our joy, burdens our thoughts, and breaks our heart. It makes us do the wrong things albeit for the right reasons. We intervene and wedge our will into places that are designed for God’s hand alone.
In the end, parenting is an epic journey of trust. One in which we pay to play, literally. We pay with heartache and tears. We pay with time and effort. We pay with sacrifice and surrender. And yet each time we embrace the divine grace in which our children are wrapped, our eyes are opened to see the beautiful and unique creatures they are becoming.
Lord God, help me to embrace the responsibility of parenting by loving them and releasing them to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Do you feel unqualified for this job of parenting? Does the responsibility exceed your experience? Do you struggle under the conflict of control?
This week, look for an opportunity to unclench your fist of control and release the outcome to the ultimate shepherd (Psalm 23:1-3).
Hugs for a great week and remember, you are not alone. Be blessed and discover the reward in the release.