My son, who loves to spend time drawing, has a hard time with his drawings not turning out exactly how he envisioned them in his mind. For a long time, he would only spend time drawing if I was going to draw with him and draw everything the ‘‘right way.’’
Last year, our church celebrated Easter with a drive-in Easter service. In-person gatherings were not an option, but not gathering at all was not an option either. After weeks of planning—which felt generous in some ways, since most of our planning was on the fly while we adjusted to shifting health and safety guidelines last spring—we made it to Easter morning.
Recently, on social media, I have engaged in a weekly conversation about worshipping with little people. On Sundays I share what my family and I are up to as we go throughout our morning. Every time I do this, mom after mom will reach out to share a struggle their family is having with worshipping together, ask a question, vent, to say “we do that too!” or to ask for prayers. One disclaimer I always give when I share about our family’s time preparing for and in worship is that our successes are not magic. Tips or tactics that are working for our family come from lots of trial and error and many, many years of practicing and learning together.
There are plenty of times while raising a child that, as the parent, you have control over the choices being made. One area where this does not apply is the day that your child is old enough to drop their nap. As their body grows, your child naturally reaches a point where the only time he or she needs sleep is during the nighttime hours.
In our house, we have two little people, and they seem to be constantly going through growth spurts. Lately, my four-year-old has started using his growing as an opportunity to always have an “out” when he doesn’t want to do something. When it’s time to clean up toys or help with a small task, he likes to respond: “I am too tired to do that.” And sometimes he probably is actually tired, but we have started to talk through the difference between being tired and just not wanting to help out, even if they go hand in hand. When he declares he is too tired to do something, we have started asking him about the root of that statement. “Are you really too tired, or is helping your sister just something you don’t want to do right now?”
Over the course of this year, I have had countless conversations that ended with lamenting the difficulties this year has held. When something difficult happens, it has been easy to respond to the situation by adding it to the list of wrongs 2020 has dealt out:
“2020 just won’t quit.”
“Man, this year!”
“Of course that happened—it’s 2020!”
“2020 is the worst!”
“How are you?”
I rarely ask that question in a conversation without receiving a response along the lines of “fine” or “doing good” or “so busy these days.” Rarely does someone respond by saying, “I am so well rested” or “My schedule is so balanced these days.”
If we were tired before 2020 brought with it a pandemic and many other difficult national crises, we are certainly tired now. If we were feeling a strain on our schedules before 2020 brought with it endless meetings over video conferencing and virtual environments for school, worship, and everything in between, we are certainly feeling that strain now.
Lawyer: “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”
Lawyer: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus: “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Lawyer: “And who is my neighbor?”
Who is your neighbor? Have you considered that question lately? The back-and-forth exchange above comes from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Chapter 10 holds two familiar passages of Scripture, one after the other.
My social media feeds have been filled with school-related posts for the better part of this year. When the statewide shut-downs first occurred because of the pandemic, many posted about the experience of suddenly doing all schoolwork using exclusively digital mediums. As spring turned to summer and the uncertainty of fall loomed ahead, posts began to primarily feature the thoughts and feelings surrounding all of the details and decisions for the upcoming school year.
Navigating the world of parenting can often feel like running a gauntlet. How to birth your child, feed your child, and help her sleep; what he should play with and read; the daily schedule; clothing choices, schooling choices ... the list of opinions and “best practices” in these areas are daunting and often discouraging.
One of my favorite aspects of God’s Word is the way that it shapes my parenting. There are many, many challenges of parenthood that you cannot be prepared for ahead of time, and yet every time I turn to Scripture, I find hope, encouragement, and insight that guides our family’s day-to-day life. God’s Word gives me a lens and a foundation as I navigate parenthood.