Parenting with an Eternal Perspective
- Jen Booth Crosswalk.com Contributor
- 2011 13 Jul
My husband and I often play the game of “Whose turn is it?” with our four-month-old:
“His diaper is really dirty. Can you change it?”
“I think it’s your turn.”
“No, I’ve changed four today already. You can do it.”
“But you’re so good at it! I’m not as good at it as you are.”
“But you da man!” That was my husband telling me I’m the man. Really?
The first year of parenting is a journey unmatched by any other life experience. It is a time when you not only learn your child’s personality and how to multi-task on two hours of sleep, but a time when you learn what you are made of. As my grandmother often says ,”When you have a baby, you do things you never imagined you would be able to do.”
It has been a wild ride for us, particularly. After a very difficult pregnancy, my baby had to stay in the NICU for 22 days. He has some very unusual, though not tragic, health problems which somewhat compounds the normal first-year challenges. And, wow, those challenges!
Sometimes, as I rush to clean spit-up, give medicine, change diapers, and decipher cries, I feel I am back in college… in an early class, after an all-nighter with a pop quiz for a whopping percent of my grade. I cannot always figure out the meaning of the cry or the reason for the tantrum, and I hope I am never graded on my parenting skills!
At times, I feel like I know nothing about my child at all -- is this screaming, snotty little bundle my baby? He was cooing and laughing just a few minutes ago. Are you sure someone didn’t come in and switch him for another when I wasn’t looking?
The tantrums and crying spells are the exception, not the norm, thankfully. I am in awe of God’s goodness every time I look into that small, smiling face. One day I was holding Caleb when a sobering thought hit me: Nearly all mothers have held their children like this. As Caleb snuggled and “talked” to me, I imagined Jesus being held by his mother, and then Moses, David, and other great men and women whom God had great plans for… and then I saw Hitler being held by his mother the same way.
Wait, what? Hitler? Yes, even that torturous man snuggled in his mommy’s arms with innocence once.
I realized what a huge responsibility my husband and I have. Every person, good and evil, believer and apathetic, was once a cute, laughing, helpless baby. I looked into my son’s eyes and asked God, “Please help us raise him to love You!”
The burden weighs on me every day. It is up to us as parents to shape his heart so that God can win that heart one day and use him for His glory. Quieting a cry, keeping hands out of a dirty diaper, napping for the entire expected time all fade in the shadow of the responsibility before me. I want my son to have an abundant life and a beautiful eternity.
God loves our children even more than we do, which is so hard to imagine. I love to read about Jesus spending time with children and seeing His great love for them. InMark 9:14-16 , we see a clear picture of this: “’Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms and blessed them.”
I can see Jesus scooping up each child into a big hug, with a smile on His face. He delighted in them, and longed for their hearts. He longs for my son’s heart.
Our children aren’t actually ours. They belong to God, ultimately, and He expects no less than our complete devotion to their souls. I hope we can direct him so that when he is older and he sins, he will feel the weight of it, see his need for salvation, and fall in love with Jesus forever.
I’m told our journey in parenting will continue for the rest of our lives. We haven’t even reached six months yet! What a blessing that God is helping us navigate the challenges of raising our (His) child. That thought comforts me on frustrating days.
Now, I must run. I think I hear a little cry from the nursery… but nap time isn’t over for another hour!
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Deuteronomy 30:19I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life. ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Jen Booth is a stay-at-home mom and a budding author. She resides with her husband in Louisiana. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/jacoblund