Carmine Gallo says that creativity thrives under constraints.
I think the same is true of courage.
There are time constraints around being a parent. And money constraints and knowledge constraints and general life constraints.
And yet feeling cornered can be our call to action. The constraints needn’t make us less effective. They can be the very thing to electrify our influence. Maybe – to be creative, courageous moms and dads – we need to harness the energy generated by the constraints and channel it into a radical commitment to pray and obey.
Early in 2014, I wrote these prayers – one for each day of the month – not because I had it all together and knew just how to pray for my kids. I wrote them out of a keen awareness that I cannot – cannot – mother on my own. I need daily assurance that my children and I are in the hands of a great God who longs to fulfil what He has stitched into our DNA, for our good and His glory.
I’m learning to pray through the day – as my boys are riding bikes or rescuing beetles. And I’m trusting God to put thoughts in my head and instincts in my gut concerning my children, even when the intuitions don’t make sense. [ . . . ]
Parenthood is more than a relentless refereeing of right from wrong. It’s holding small hands through these borrowed days and trusting for wisdom to step in the direction of life and grace, because a discipled life is a disciplined life.
And when I’m not sure of the next step? I pause and think about the kind of men I hope will be waiting at the end of the aisle one day for the daughters-in-law that I trust are in our future. The kind of men that I hope will walk into interviews and wow whatever panels God puts before them with quiet, remarkable, unpretentious confidence in their skills and in the God who bestowed them.
Sometimes the next step is letting go of their hands just a little – to show them that they are responsible for their lives. To show them that they dare not develop a victim mind-set – as if the world owes them something. To show them that life experience doesn’t buy wisdom – evaluated life experience buys wisdom.
Sometimes the next step is setting them up for success – like, putting the tomato sauce on the lowest shelf in the fridge so that they can set the table and know that small brave helpers add value to this family.
Sometimes the next step is choosing words carefully. I try hard to lay off the sarcasm. And we try to speak a love language that balances grace and holiness. We don’t talk about punishment when they’ve been dishonest, disrespectful or disobedient. Because Jesus took all our punishment on the cross. We talk about consequence. And helping them to remember not to do this again. And how sorry we are that they’ve sinned – the way God is grieved by sin and broken relationships. Always, we offer forgiveness.
I’m praying – for you and me, friend – that we would know when and how to protect our children from external forces that seek to destroy them. And that we would know when to let the external forces take their course to shape character.
I’m praying that we would call out of them the courage to clean out their hearts.
I’m praying that we would discipline, train and coach our kids in this blink of borrowed time, so that one day we can befriend them.
I’m praying that we would live our stories brave, and inspire our children to do the same.
I’m praying that we wouldn’t clutch our children too tightly but that we would carry them carefully, in awe of the wonder of them, until they can carry themselves –
And change the world.
. . .
This is an extract from my book,
Dragons and Dirt: The truth about changing the world – and the courage it requires.
Order a copy here, or pick up a paperback / Kindle edition on Amazon.
Go ahead and be awesome this week! And thanks so much for hanging out here today.
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You will definitely damage your kids. Have kids anyway. [Parenting Part 1]
You are parenting a borrowed kid, on borrowed time [Parenting Part 2]