I’m just going to be honest here and admit that sometimes my home feels out of control. Sometimes I feel like my head is spinning with a whirlwind of requests and lightening-fast children dashing by, and any words I shout out to regain control seem lost in the swirling chaos. I tend to panic when things are out of my control and yet in the role of a parent I seldom get the privilege of having it all under control. I feel like a failure for not being able to make my kids remember the stock-standard house rules. I’m pretty sure ’no running in the house’, ’no wrestling on the couch’ and some of the other things I’m repeating have been rules for generations. I was praying about this recently and asking God to give me a key. As many of you know, my favourite thing to do is to try and understand what Jesus would do in my situation so I can just copy Him rather than figure it out on my own. I know Jesus didn’t exactly have kids, but I was hoping there would be a scenario He could remind me of that was similar and that I could apply to my situation. The verse that jumped to mind was: "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36) When He saw those that were without understanding, as simple as children, even comparable to sheep, He knew that they required leadership and He had compassion on them. These were Israelites who knew the promises of God, and who, in my opinion, jolly well should have known better. But Jesus knew that with the right leadership, they would come around. And He had compassion on them.
I felt Him gently remind me that the success I had experienced as a parent in my children’s early years was not all about consistent discipline resulting in good kids, as I had begun to remember incorrectly, but it was actually more about compassionate treatment and respecting my children as people that resulted in kids who felt understood... and the consistent discipline was built on that foundation. I would always get down on the level of the little person, hearing what he’s saying, confirming that I understand, and then insisting that he needs to do the right thing anyway.
So the first key God gave me was ‘compassion'. When it seems like the ‘crowds' are running riot without order and leadership, have compassion. Each child that runs past you like a hurricane, each little voice asking you for something, is attached to a little heart-an extremely vulnerable little heart-and compassion is the key to treating that heart correctly. When I take one second to put myself in the shoes of the offender or the little face that is needing something from me, it allows me to address them in a way that is both kind and constructive. Don’t get me wrong, I am not sacrificing on consistent discipline and a firm keeping of the boundaries, but I am understanding that my children are incapable of leading themselves just yet, and that getting frustrated about that is doing nothing but giving me grey hair!
Secondly, the key is vision. Pro’s don’t panic. Only amateurs do. Pro’s have long term vision and know how to ride the waves. We need to have a vision of the future following faithfulness. Ten or fifteen years down the line, if I have faithfully and consistently led my children into what is right, what that would look like? We need to allow ourselves the delight of picturing our children in their late teens or early twenties, charming human beings who we would like to hang around. With a hopeful vision of the future held before us, we will be able to faithfully work at this one’s self-confidence, and that one’s speech impediment; we will have the patience to repeat the same directions every day for a decade.
And when I am not a pro - because let’s face it, in parenting you seldom get the chance for a do-over once you’ve got the experience needed for the job - you need to attach yourself to someone who knows what they’re doing. For me, that’s God. When I look out over my home on a day when chaos reigns, I only have to ask Him if I should panic or if we’re going to be able to pull this together. When my trust is in Him to be the pro I can tuck in as His wingman, and keep faithfully and consistently pushing towards the vision, even when the waves are over my head and I can’t clearly see the way out. If He says it’s okay, then it’s going to be okay.