I am finding that with each child God blesses us with, He graciously peels back the layers of my stubborn heart. One thing I have learned is that my pride is often huge and God is very small. Because I think I have all the answers, most of the time, I think that I have the capacity to do this parenting thing and do it well. Some days I get by okay and I can crawl into bed with a clear conscience but other nights I lay awake replaying the sins of the day- the angry words, the harsh yelling, the lack of presence.
Yesterday started out well. We had devotions as a family over breakfast; I did a fun nature activity with the kids outside; we read tons of books together. I was engaged, enthusiastic, present. But then the afternoon hit. After Jesse's friend went home he was out of sorts. He was rude to his sister, whiny, ignored me when I told him not to do something, complained about dinner, etc. As the afternoon turned into evening he was pushing my buttons more and I was losing my patience. I said some things I shouldn't have in a manner that I shouldn't have. After the kids went to bed, the guilt set in. What happened? The day started off so well! I was in control, the kids were loved on and I was attentive to them. How did I lose control? Why was Jesse acting the way he was? Didn't I do everything I was supposed to do? Ahhhh. That last question stopped my thoughts in their tracks- didn't I do everything I was supposed to do? In other words, I didn't deserve to have a whiny, selfish child because I held up my end of the deal, why wasn't he holding up his? And then slowly it began to sink in- it is not about me. I am not in control. I am responsible for my actions (good and bad) but I cannot control how my kids will behave, or even how they will turn out. I know this. But my heart is trying to catch up.
As I showered this morning I envisioned the water washing over me like God's grace. I goofed. I forgot. I tried to take the reins again. But, instead of beating myself up about it, I found myself praying. I prayed for my son- that God would change his heart, would bring Jesse to Himself. I realized in that moment that this is what I am called to do. All the wonderfully planned activities will not change the stubborn, selfish heart of my son, only God can. And I know this because I can see Him changing mine.