Today’s post comes from one of our table leaders, Sara H.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a teacher. By nature (and occupation), I’m a planner. So before I was even pregnant with my first, I had already started thinking about what kind of parent I wanted to be. What did I want to make sure my kids knew? And how could I accomplish it?
Looking back, there were definitely things on my “list” (yes, I’m a list person too) that were big and important, things that would take a lifetime to develop. I wanted to teach them about God, show them how to love Jesus and love people, instill in them qualities like respect, obedience, independence, and keeping commitments. I wanted to tell them and show them every day that I love them. I wanted to show them what a strong, Christ-centered marriage looks like. Then there were the more trivial, daily things. I wanted them to eat and sleep well. I wanted them to love to read and do math (I know, but remember I’m a teacher). I didn’t want them to watch tv until they were older. I even remember thinking that if I had a daughter, I didn’t want her watching princess movies because I didn’t want her growing up with a fairy-tale vision of what love is. (My mom still likes to remind me that I once said that.)
While those things sound all well and good (and a bit unrealistic), the thing about being a planner is that I want things to go according to my plan. When I teach and things go differently than expected (which is every day), it’s fine. I just roll with it. But for some reason, in real life I react differently. I get upset when things don’t go my way (which is every day). I’ve tried really hard to work toward all of those goals every day. But I’m human. I mess up. I need God’s grace.
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a mom is that I can’t do it all. There are things I’ve had to let go, and it’s ok to do that. The big, important things are still on my list. But I’m trying to learn to be ok when I have to change the plan (or throw it out completely). If my kids don’t eat three complete, balanced meals every day, it’s ok. If they don’t get to bed at the exact time I want them to, it’s ok. If I really need a few minutes’ peace and occasionally use the tv as a babysitter, it’s ok. In the grand scheme, those things are not that important.
I feel like God is constantly reminding me of the story of Mary and Martha from Luke chapter 10. Jesus came to visit the two sisters, and while Mary sat down at His feet, listening and learning, Martha was running around trying to prepare everything that she thought was important. Jesus ended up saying to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (vv. 41-42). I’m such a Martha! Running around trying to do all these things that, even though they’re good, are not necessary. What really matters? Being an example of Jesus to my children. And to do that, I have to sit and listen at the feet of my Lord.
It takes courage to keep striving toward a goal when you keep falling down. It also takes courage to let go of things and rearrange your priorities, especially when you like having a plan (like me). Do I still try to show them God’s love in every situation? Yes. And when I fail (every day), I pray for forgiveness and keep going. Does my two-year-old daughter watch princess movies? Yes. She loves Elsa just like every other little girl. She dressed up as Belle last week for Halloween. And it’s ok.
Share Your Story: What things did you want to be intentional about in parenting before you had kids? Have you been true to those dreams? What has allowed to you keep or break those promises you made to yourself?