Today, where I live, it is a rainy, stay in your house, contemplative type of day. With that in mind, in case it is the same at your home, I wanted to give you something to think about.
It seems like daily I question or doubt my parenting skills and/or decisions. Sometimes I know I have hit the mark, responding in grace, moving in love. Other days, I know for sure I missed, even at times by a long shot.
Although many days I have answered patiently, cultivated uniqueness, built character, delivered affection, or fostered learning, I have also been short tempered, reacted harshly, displayed exhaustion, and miscommunicated.
As with all realms of life, some days of parenting are better than others. And as you add additional children to the mix, the stakes seem to get higher, for now you have to have a double portion of the goodness, which can even bring about an additional dose of the bad.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to get the kids in the car to go somewhere. Reflecting back, I can’t remember where we were going, if we were late, if it was important, or what the circumstances were at all really. I just remember the kids, me, and the car were involved, and somewhere along the line, I lost it. I yelled at Daniel. Don’t ask me what I said or why I said it, for I can’t recall. All I know is that it wasn’t said in love. And it was most likely loud.
I do remember though driving off toward our destination, and before I could even get off our street, mommy guilt was ripping me to shreds. I was giving myself mental kicks in the rear for messing up and yelling. Although I had already admitted error to Daniel and apologized, I felt a huge weight on my chest, preventing me from breathing fully. I felt shame and failure, and I certainly knew that this moment would be later recanted by Daniel to some sort of educated figure in order to help him ameliorate all his adult issues, since they all stem from a mother’s mistakes anyway.
As I continued to drive, a scripture came into my mind, like a soft and gentle breeze:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.-Philippians 4:8
Think about such things.
It was time to stop beating myself up for a mistake, for generally I would ponder some sort of mishap in perfect parenting for at least one full week. Instead, I am commanded to think about the good, avoid focusing on the bad. I messed up, no doubt, but what good is there in devouring my own spirit in the process? How will replaying the moment over in my head change the fact that is happened? It won’t.
In a Thriving Family article that interviewed Mary Beth Chapman, wife of singer Steven Curtis Chapman, she was discussing life, their family failures, and their family loss, and was quoted as saying:
Our whole goal has not been to live [life] out perfectly, but to live it out struggling, live it out battling, and in the end, to just succeed in not letting the Enemy tear this family apart.
I’m going to fail, sufferings will come, mistakes will be made. I can’t think about those things though. Instead, I have to recount the joyful aspects in my parenting, the times I did what was right in the midst of a difficult or stressful moment, not cataloging the memory of a less than ideal moment front and center, available for constant reflection and haunting. I must think about the positives in my life rather than the negatives, the truths of Christ rather than the lies of Satan. If I don’t, I risk letting the enemy win.
And you know what, I’ve been trying to do that daily since. I encourage you to do the same for yourself.
Think about such things. It is quite liberating, really.