Here we are at the start committing to each other
By His Word and from our hearts
We will be a family in a house that will be a home
And with faith we'll build it strong.
Now to be a family, we've got to love each other
At any cost unselfishly
And our home must be a place that fully abounds with grace
A reflection of His face.
We'll build a household of faith
That together we can make
And when the strong winds blow it won't fall down
As one in Him we'll grow and the whole world will know
That we are a household of faith.*
Recently I was foraging through a large box that holds old pictures for a montage I was putting together in the hallway, I came across a picture of my mother. In it she was sitting at a kitchen table sipping coffee and deep in thought. It was just as I recalled her so often and I missed her all over again.
As I was remembering her, I thought about how much she is loved in spite of her imperfections. Actually, it was the same part of her personality that I loved which also encouraged some of her less than desirable decisions. They brought me great unhappiness at the time as she sought security in a disastrous marriage after my father died.
But now... looking back through the years... I know the difficult times in my youth are exactly what drew me to the Heavenly Father and I hold nothing against my earthly mother (who was and always will be dear to my heart). The older I get, the more I understand her flawed reasoning.
All of this started me reflecting upon my own parenting years. While Christopher and I enjoyed our belated Christmas lunch this week and chatted about all sorts of things like his classes and the foreign policy of Ron Paul... the path to our close relationship was rather rocky at times.
I recalled a prayer I threw up to God over and over when Christopher was a little boy. No, not the accusation toward Him that He was absolutely insane to give me "this boy" in my 30's (aren't you glad He is a patient God?). I mean the one when I asked Him to keep the boy out of prison and me, too... as there were days I wanted to strangle the kid.
Anyone who has raised an ADHD child knows exactly the emotions of which I speak. To a lesser extent, they were the same emotions raised within as Stephanie (about age eleven) decided to verbally dispute everything I said. Thankfully that stage was short lived and her teen years were a delight (as I should mention were my son's).
One of the images from my past... burned into memory... was a car ride with my mother as we drove from the small town where we lived into "Town". I was in my early teens and had become quite lippy about something when my mother... somewhere close to the narrow bridge which used to cross the river... pulled the car over and told me if I didn't shut up, I could get out and walk.
Now, you must understand. My mother didn't use the term "shut up" loosely and she was extremely over protective so even the thought of walking into town alone was appalling. I don't recall what I said or did but whatever it was, I obviously was not the perfect daughter.
Which brings me the realization that perfection is not something God expects from us when He gives us children (whether birthed or through adoption). He knows in our humanity we will have good days and bad days.
Just as we are patting ourselves on the back for our amazing words of wisdom in dealing with one child, we find ourselves blurting out the most hurtful of statements to another child in a moment of exasperation.
I used to wonder about the difference between my childhood (fraught with death, despair at times, and uncertainty) and my husband's (who had the security of home and a stable income). One would think it was such a childhood as mine which would bring a lifetime of emotional confusion instead of his.
But one day as I was thinking of my parents, I realized the answer. With all the faults and all the trauma and all the uncertainties of my childhood... I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was loved and that they "had my back". My husband and his siblings always felt they were conditionally loved and somehow never measured up to expectations.
Love truly does... as the Word says... cover a multitude of sins.
I learned from my mother that there are times we can make really, really bad mistakes when parenting. We will wonder at the end of certain days how our children can ever grow up to love us, much less love the Lord and serve Him... as we live lives so far from what we desire to show our children.
But as we do the best we can and always direct our children's attention to the One who IS PERFECT, it all comes together. We find He is teaching us as we raise the next generation. We can rest assured that as we pray for His wisdom and truly seek to be the best parents we can be, it will all turn out well in the end.
Now, as the days of hands on raising of children are behind me... I see how He took all the good and the bad and the beautiful and the ugly and the imperfections... and when offered up to Him... created a beautiful family. Never perfect, of course... but good.
I should say here, though... I have friends who were good parents with children who have "gone prodigal". I'm always reminded that Adam and Eve lived in perfection and still chose the prodigal path. Sometimes all we can do is pray and trust God as those we love go down a challenging path... and remember to love them.
Now, let me tell you about my adorable grandchildren...
* Household of Faith, lyrics by Brent Lamb & John Rosasco, recorded by Steve Green