For a kid going to school in the morning, you’d think there would be a few necessities: clothes, lunchbox, backpack, shoes to name a few. But I realized a few months ago that my daughter may not have the same qualifications as me for a successful day of learning.
We all got in the car to leave and headed off. We weren’t late, but I had a meeting at school that day, so there wasn’t extra time to stop for coffee or anything like that. The drive was pretty normal and sports talk radio was on for all to enjoy or ignore. Then about 12 minutes into the ride, Reese informed me of this little tidbit: “Dad, I don’t have my shoes.” Have you ever really not known what to do as a parent and a million choices of what to do go through your mind at the same time? That was me at a stoplight while wondering how she did not notice that she was walking out to the car in bare feet.
I certainly know that as a parent to my own two kids, I sometimes don’t know if I am doing any of this right. I am a person who likes projects to have a start and a finish, with expected steps along the way. I guess you could say that I’m a planner. The problem is that raising kids is not like this. The steps don’t often go the way we think they’re going to go and the “finish” almost never looks like we thought it would. We’re not working with furniture from Ikea here. The children God has gifted us with are much more complicated than that. Although, I’ve had a few Ikea pieces that may challenge me there. Our kids don’t have pre-made instruction books and they react differently to different things on different days. All of this can sometimes make us parents ask ourselves if we are even capable of this hard job!
I’m pretty sure that this feeling isn’t unique to me and has probably been experienced by parents both now and throughout history. I bet that Ben Franklin’s parents were discouraged when he stopped going to school at age 10. Ben invented bifocals and became a founder of our country. Jim Carrey’s dad most likely felt overwhelmed when the family had to live out of a VW camper van. Jim became one of the most successful comedians in history. I’d guess that Albert Einstein’s parents didn’t know what to do when he did not speak for the first three years of his life. Albert grew up to be a historically foundational scientist.
Parenting is complicated and the frustration of it is universal. Even Mary and Joseph must have had an overwhelming sense during that first Christmas as they prepared to become the earthly parents of Jesus. Mary was an unmarried teenage girl and Joseph was a young carpenter. They weren’t exactly the couple I would expect to raise the Jesus, but God knew what He was doing. The Boy that would be born to them was no ordinary kid. He would arrive as the Savior of man’s sin and the Redeemer of a lost world. He would go on to heal blind people, raise dead people, and encourage depressed people. He would eventually die for the shortcomings of both his own parents and us.
When you are burdened with the demands that parenting brings, remember the moment that God sent His angel to tell Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. There is something he says to her that can encourage us today as well and give us HOPE in the toughest circumstances. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her this, “Congratulations! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, God will bless you!”
Just like God chose Mary and Joseph to be the parents of Jesus, he chose YOU to be the parent to your child. He knew everything about that sweet little person before you had the first butterfly of excitement. You may not have all the answers to their questions; you may be exhausted from your schedule; you may feel tired and unconfident. Don’t forget that God purposely placed that kid into your care and you have what it takes!
Also, if your daughter forgets her shoes, I recommend asking her what the solution is. She just might come up with a good one. This was her problem, not mine. I was sympathetic to her, but I would not let HER issue ruin my morning or stress me out. So I looked in my rear view mirror and asked Reese what SHE should do about her missing shoes. Turning the car around was not an option. She thought for a minute and then asked to call a friend who lives close to the school. I praised her for thinking of a great option and she made the call to borrow her friend’s shoes for the day. It’s natural for us to jump at fixing our kids’ mistakes and problems. Instead, let’s consider letting them taste independence, trying out skills they’ll need as they grow up.