As moms, we so often have to stand over a crying child wondering if we are doing our job well enough. Our precious 4-year-old, for whom we would throw ourselves in front of a train, is pitching a fit because the cookie you gave her is broken. She wanted a whole cookie and what you gave her isn’t good enough. You’re stunned. You know what you gave her is not only perfectly fine, but it’s actually a gift that you made especially for her. The lack of gratitude pierces your heart, but you’re the grown-up so you forgive almost instantly. And it happens over and over and over.
It’s amazing what parenting teaches us about our relationship with God! I remember one morning I got up extra early and made my son’s favorite breakfast, sourdough biscuits. When he woke up and wandered into the kitchen there were hot, buttery biscuits waiting for him. I was so excited to do this unexpected special surprise for him. Did he thank me? No, he cried because he wanted cereal. The dry, plain cereal that he ate almost every day. I just walked away, deciding not to let myself get hurt or sad over his response. It was then that God pierced my heart with a picture I would never forget.
God showed me in no uncertain terms that I was no different than my ungrateful child. I saw the picture of myself whining over not being able to afford new shoes or have time to go out to dinner with my husband.
I saw my own rejection of the gifts He gives me and how I am just as dissatisfied as my son. Since then every time I feel like complaining about my lack (mostly of what I want, not what I need) I am reminded of that day. God showed me how immature and childish I can be. How is my fit over a broken car any different than my child’s fit over a broken cookie Oh sure, we could say that cars are more important than cookies, but in God’s eyes are they really? He gave me the car, He provides for the gas, He knows what I need. If it breaks down because I am supposed to stay home instead of whatever my own plans are then that is what is best even if I can’t see it. Yet I will catch myself complaining to God that what He gave me isn’t what I want. Boohoo, waah, waah. Like the toddler who wants to be carried everywhere, we know it’s best for his future that he learns to walk so we set him down. We make him do it even when he doesn’t like it.
Doesn’t God do the same with all of us? Raising children has been such a great revelation of my own relationship with my heavenly father. Each time one of my kids gets upset over a disappointment, whether it’s a small thing like not being allowed to play a video game or something bigger like being given a large, daily responsibility, I see my own childish behavior in the eyes of God and I am humbled. It not only shows me my own heart and places I need to change, but it also gives me sympathy for how my children feel. Even though it may seem so ridiculous to us that they stomp away upset over a cookie, knowing I do the same thing gives me the wisdom to offer them grace. We all know the feeling of being sad that things didn’t go our way and we all need to learn to be content with what we are given. Then watching them make the shift from seeing me and their dad as the provider for their every need to their own relationship with God as the provider is a beautiful gift!
Even for my kids who struggle to see the need for God in their life, I am blessed to have a front-row seat to their journey. I know He has them in His capable hands and if I start fussing about their decisions then am I not falling right back into the same mistake? The next time one of your children gets unusually upset over something that seems so insignificant to you, stop and ask God to show you the last time you did that to Him. I’m willing to bet it’s been less than a day.
Then let Him flood you with forgiveness and wisdom for the next time. It’s one of my favorite life lessons from the book of parenting because it holds a mirror up to my own heart. Parenting has its challenges, but it’s also a great gift of helping us grow closer to our heavenly father with every new issue. And we should never stop growing! To teach this lesson to your own kids, pick up the book Good, Good Father. It’s a great read about how God loves us no matter what! (As a bonus, you get a FREE family experience kit when you pre-order! Check it out at the link above!)
What lessons has God taught you about himself through your parenting journey?