They are my purpose
“Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise”- Andy Stanley.
As we navigate through our lives in an effort to fulfill our God-given purpose, I think it is important for those of us who have children, grandchildren, or future children to never forget the purpose in our parenting of those children while pursuing our dreams. This is something that has been heavily on my heart these past few months, especially as my life has been undergoing changes, and I have been given the opportunity to pursue my dreams and fulfill God’s purpose.
Giving birth is one of the most painful but rewarding experiences. I can remember each birth so vividly as the doctors held up my boys and tears ran down my face, and I asked each time, 10 fingers 10 toes? To hold that child for the first time and feel them calm down as the doctor laid them on my chest, the heartbeat they knew for 9 months and the only heartbeat that calms their anxieties as they enter this world. I would do it all over again if I could because the pain does not compare to the reward that I experienced from that day forward. Now that’ll preach, but that’s a lesson for another day!
Parenting has not been an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. That handsome and beautiful child you once held grows into an older child, adolescent, and eventually an adult with their own opinion, and free will. As our children grow, it is easy to forget what our purpose in parenting this particular child is, why God gave me four boys and NO GIRLS! We can get so caught up in the stress parenting can bring and forget every child birthed through us whether physically or in our hearts was given particularly to us, not your neighbor or church friend, or sister whose kids seem to be the perfect kids with their Sunday best on, never talks back and clothes are ironed ever so perfectly.
I am almost convinced God gave me one of my children to keep me closer to Him and to develop something more within me. I remember one day, one of my children was a bit more challenging than normal and I asked the Lord “Are you sure you gave me the right child? I am not cut out to parent this child, I am done Lord”. Then I heard the Lord speak ever so softly, “I gave you the child that I saw fit for YOU to parent”, not Susie, Julie, or Missy. So we continued to talk and I told Him, well they say you don’t mess up, but Lord I am thinking you made a mistake here. We all know God does not make mistakes, but at that moment I felt He did.
Feelings are NOT fact!
In that moment of stress, I had completely become overwhelmed with the problem of the moment, which totally jaded my perspective. I often tell my friends and children, “It’s all about perspective“. Well, that’s easier said than done, but how truer can these words be? You see my perspective was wrong. I was so hyper-focused on the negative behaviors and totally forgot that the God who spoke the world into existence, made this child in my womb. He is a God who does things on purpose for a purpose. So I began to shift how I looked at my children, and just about every interaction I have with them. I began to pray and ask the Lord to show me the purpose He created them for, and show me my purpose in parenting these children. It is really that simple. If we ask, He will answer, but we have to be ready to listen.
I truly believe there is nothing more rewarding, as a parent, than to raise a child who knows who God created them to be and to walk in their purpose. In order for that to occur though, we as parents need to begin to identify who God created them to be, not who we want them to be. If you ask God, he will surely tell you. I recall a particular child of mine who could set the tone for the entire household. It seemed like such a struggle, but then God revealed to me “why”. Out of the blue, I got a call from one of his teachers telling me what a joy he is to have in the classroom, “he’s a real atmosphere changer”. I could not believe the words I just heard come off that teachers tongue, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I just sat in my chair amazed, and said ok Lord; you created him to be an atmosphere changer. So this could go one of two ways, he could be a tyrant negatively affecting the atmosphere everywhere he went or set the atmosphere for the greater glory of God, and I choose to pray the latter into existence in his life. Maybe you have one mouthy child, but just what if you began to pray against the negativity that mouth produces, and begin to declare that child is a prophet, a teacher of the Word, an Exhorter, created to build the Kingdom and the people of God.
In order for this to occur, we have to parent from a position of intention and not haphazardness. I remember a message spoken one baby dedication service: “Train up a child in the WAY THEY should go and when they are old they will not depart from it”. This is often discussed in the church world meaning raising your child in the church to serve the Lord. However, on this particular Sunday, my pastor’s wife made it abundantly clear, that as parents we are to raise our children the WAY THEY should go. Not the way Tommy, Johnnie, or Bobbie goes, but the WAY THEY should go. I get it, it’s easy getting caught in the parenting comparison trap, but the only comparison that you need to worry about it comparing them to the WAY that God has shown you they should go.
So if you are struggling as a parent, I want to encourage you to:
- Ask God to show you what he sees in you to parent this child
- What does God see in your child?
- What is the WAY they should go?
Keep the faith, this is not a 5k, it’s a marathon!
Sarah Hall M.A. LPCC-S
is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a contributing content creator for Equipped!