Week four of A Mother's Heart continues with Donna. Donna's oldest child, Bethany, was the first girl friend I made upon moving to North Carolina. Today, Bethany is one of my best friends. It wasn't long after I met Bethany when I was introduced to Donna. I always have a hard time describing Donna to others. I started to type that she is the kind of person who puts you at ease when you're around her, but she's not. This is a good thing. When Donna asks how you are, she wants to know the gunk you're walking through at that particular moment. Don't fight it because she'll see the wall you put up to hide it. She'll encourage you as she listens and prays with you. No one wants to visit those places, but you always leave grateful she went there with you. Donna is the first to point out she doesn't have it all together, but she'll always point you in the direction of the One who does.
I am now a mother to four grown children. If I could speak to younger moms I would say two things that, over the years, have been vindicated by my children. The first one is simple, perhaps over used, but could never be said enough.
Every moment matters.
I used to keep four numbers on my fridge, the number of years each child had left before they were college-age. These numbers reminded me to slow down and savor my children. This reminder helped me to temper my words and emotions. I know placing these numbers in plain sight was God's idea. My natural tendency was to just get through the day. I was tired, emotionally drained, or I had my own agenda. Some very good agendas, but not necessarily agendas focused on molding lives. I am grateful for God’s wisdom, even back then, because I realize that every moment helped shape who they would turn out to be and the spirit they would possess. That had everything to do with me.
When it comes to raising children, every day will never just be about today. Today is also about tomorrow. You must not worry about tomorrow, nor living for the future, but instead make every day count. The people your children turn out to be tomorrow is decided today. I’m not just talking about the on-purpose teaching moments you try to incorporate into your kids’ lives. I’m talking about the day to day stuff. You have to be aware that your children are listening to what you say, even when you’re not talking to them. They will live out how you respond and react. They will live out how you love and forgive others. They will live out how you love and honor God. They will remember our time at Disney World, but they will live out how we acted in the car on the way there. Every moment matters.
You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are.
And I say this from experience. I’ve learned that I can only really control how one person turns out, and that’s me. Loving and honoring God has to consistently be who I am for my own sake and sanity (I have to put the oxygen mask on myself first), but also so it will be who my kids are. The best parenting tip I know is for me to be wise, whole, grounded, and close to God. Not perfect. Oh, I made many mistakes along the way, but even then my children had a front row seat to watch how I handled shortcomings. I have to live what I believe. If I fail to do so, the inconsistency of what I say I believe and how I actually live will drive them away, not only from me, but from God.
As I’ve seen my children make their own mistakes, go their own way, disappoint God, and cause my heart to break, I’ve also seen that their journey back to the truth doesn’t take very long. After all, they know what to look for. Kids gravitate toward truth!