I remember it like it was yesterday.
We were alone. Just he and I, and it was my favorite time of the day. Bedtime.
It's not what you think.
I wasn't glad that my son was finally going to bed to I could be alone. I cherished our bedtime routine. I would nurse him before bed every night, in the cozy chair in his dimly lit room. I would just stare at him and marvel at the little man that the Lord gave me to care for.
He was perfect. My son. My heart.
Hands and feet would start to go limp and the eyelids would begin to flutter. Before I knew it, I had a sleeping babe in my arms. Few things feel better than this.
Thankfulness would always pour out of my heart to God for the precious little soul that He had entrusted me with.
This night, however, was different.
Instead of my heart overflowing, it was breaking. More like being crushed, slowly, and deliberately.
The thoughts tormented me, "I can't save him. I can't force him to love God."
My eyes brimmed with tears and all I wanted to do was sit in the chair and hold my son forever.
Now, I look back and it's nearly been 4 years since that night. I now have two children and one on the way. The thoughts still plague me from time to time, but God has given me a different and hopeful perspective. I have learned to cling to the often quoted, yet often not applied verse from Proverbs:
"Train up a child in the was he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)
There is one word here that stands out whenever I read this. Can you guess?
It doesn't say go to church, pray before meals and bedtime, be the perfect parent, and in the end your child will love God and be saved.
Are any of these things bad? No. Are they necessary/helpful? Yes. (And yes, I know there is no such thing as perfect parenting)
I believe this verse and ultimately our Lord is calling us to more. A lot more!
When I think of the word train, I think of an athlete training for the Olympics. (Okay, okay. I do think of Thomas the Train too...like I said, I have a son) :) They don't do anything halfway. Olympians can't, or they'd never make it.
No. They train their bodies, minds, and emotions day in and day out. They work until they can't give anymore. Repetitive, persistent, tedious, exhausting, exhilarating, awarding...WORK!
Do we have this mindset when we are with our kids day in and day out? Are we using our mind, soul, and energy in training our kids? Are we using every precious second with our kids to point them to Christ?
My answer at best is...at times. Sad, I know.
I get caught up in my own selfishness, to do lists, and life a lot of the time, and neglect the little souls I have watching me. Here is where my hope and encouragement comes in. Until the Lord takes me home, He is not done working on me. He is continually working, molding, convicting, and changing me to become the woman, wife, and mother He wants me to be.
My love for His word is growing and so my desire to be obedient to it is growing as well. God is helping me to love and care for the souls of my children more than if they are temporarily un/happy about what they do or don't get to do.
And the best thing is, is that it is not ultimately up to me, my diligence, and parenting skills on whether or not my children will love God. It is up to Him. If it were up to us, no one would make it to heaven.
I trust God. I believe His word. I have experienced His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. With His strength I will continually 'train' my children in the way they should go. The rest is up to Him.
I cling to the promise of my children not departing from what has been taught to them.
So when worry starts to creep in and my failures as a mother seem to be most apparent, I rest in the fact that my children are out of my hands...and safely in His.
***Here are some things that I have been putting into practice.
~Less time watching TV/movies and more time talking and reading with my kids.
~Make family devotions a regular occurrence.
~Instead of just disciplining bad behavior, I talk to them about their heart, their need for Jesus, and how without Him, we can never obey as we should.
~ I always, always try to talk to my kids about God. What He has done, will do, and continues to do, what He's made, and how much He loves and cares for His children.
~Pray for and with my kids. I also encourage them to pray too! It's amazing and so sweet to see what they pray for.
~I try to make our lives all about Him and show my kids that we should love and joyfully serve our Savior. Even when times are rough and we don't 'feel' like it.
Do you have anything you would add/change to this list?
What do you do to train your child in the Lord?