Once again, I find myself in a quandary. Is what I am about to write about a contradiction? I feel this subject on my heart but I am going to go on to talk about how unreliable the heart is. Well, let's just see where this goes.
The heart is well known to be fickle, wicked, deceitful, easily lead to folly and not a good way to base our life's decisions. However, so many things are based on how we feel at the time. Many good decisions have been made by following the heart; also many bad ones. How then can we know if it is the right course of action to take?
My father-in-law said something once that I have never forgotten, regarding the decision to either buy a pet or have a baby, that it is an emotional decision. This I have come to see in my own life as very true. Before we had kids, I decided I wanted a puppy to cuddle and nurture and look cute. Did I put a lot of thought and research in to this decision? No. We have spent the last 7 1/2 years as parents to Lola, and have often wondered if we knew what we were getting in to.
Also with children. We knew we wanted children, but not having a lot of experience with kids myself and no training program for want-to-be parents, I really didn't know what I was in for. Does this mean that because my heart told me I wanted a baby that it was a rash decision. In this case no (maybe so in the puppy case). Children are a gift from the Lord, we are blessed by what we have been entrusted with.
You don't become a parent because you have passed a course and know everything there is to know and are ready to take on this task with all the tools of the trade. You become parents, most likely, with a lot of hope and desire, but no real clue. You are then put through the ringer, and if you're like me, you have been challenged in ways you never dreamed of.
This goes beyond the sleepless nights to the real spiritual heart of the matter. We have been parents for 6 years now and I have been stretched, tested, grown and refined in ways that go beyond my control and planning. Of course I didn't think parenting would be easy, but I didn't realize how much of myself would have to change in the process. I am slowly learning to be less selfish about my sleep. I am trying to set aside my agenda and expectations, to be open to God's leading. I am working at putting my family's needs first, even if I feel unproductive. I have been convicted by my sin and my daily need for forgiveness and do-overs.
When you realize that you have little mirrors walking around your house showing you your sin every day, you can choose to ignore or justify it, or come to the Throne of God in repentance and humility. I have been humbled as a parent. I have seen my shortcomings ten fold. I have tried to justify them by being tired or overwhelmed. But really, sin is without excuse. I am always telling my kids to have patience and self control, it is no shear coincidence that those are the areas I struggle most with. It is up to me to control my heart, to choose to be cheerful in the morning, to take on the day with a good attitude and as I tell my kids, have a happy heart when things don't go my way.
I am a work in progress. I am a parent in training. I am a saint being sanctified. When I am having a hard time I know I have to turn to God for strength and grace. But it is when things are going relatively smoothly that I need to give full credit to the God that has seen fit to use me for His service. In this life, there are hills and valleys, but God is faithful and will see us through the journey when our hearts and minds are in tune with Him.
Just to throw in some scripture here, Psalm 37 is an amazing meditation and has so many golden nuggets of truth to gleam from. I find reading this so encouraging and a good foundation.
With a Barrel and a Heap of Love,
Linking up with Grace Laced