Last week I wrote a post declaring that parenting is difficult and challenging and spiritual. And, to me, because parenting is spiritual, I suggested that it was therefore dangerous.
But, what, exactly do I mean when I say that parenting is spiritual? It may not be what you’re thinking, so let me explain.
Before my husband and I got married, we talked about whether or not we were going to have children. Because we met when I was 33 (he was 31), and we didn’t marry until I was 34 (and 5 months from 35), we initially agreed that we weren’t going to have children. After all, we wanted to spend at least a year together before starting a family, and by that point I would be pushing 37. The danger zone of pregnancies (otherwise knows as high risk) according to OB-GYNs.
And besides all that, I believed I was too selfish to be a mama.
Turns out, I was right.
And that is why I stand by the idea that parenting is a spiritual discipline.
Jumping ahead in my story, our first baby girl was born one day before my 41st birthday. Despite my years on the planet, nothing in my life prepared me for the demands of being a mama. Of being selfless. Of serving someone without expectation. Of loving someone without condition.
Not even my marriage. At least not to that point (but that is another story).
But now, here I was, facing my brokenness and my worldliness day after day, hour after hour. I craved sleep. I longed for time alone. I wished I could go back to the time when life was about me.
Every day I had to submit my will to God’s. More than I’d ever really done before. And usually untold times a day, I had to stop and submit again and again and again. And as God worked on me and with me and through me, I began to grow in small bursts. Microscopic bursts is probably the better term.
And yet it wasn’t enough to prepare me for the birth of our second baby girl two years later (just a month after turning 43). I was older, but not necessarily wiser. I still struggled with my human nature that wants to take more than to give, that wants to be served rather than to serve, that wanted to focus on me rather than on others.
The nature that became frustrated too easily, irritated too often, angry to quickly. Without submitting to Jesus, I was a messy, mediocre mama and not the mama I saw in my heart. The picture of a mama that Jesus pinned to my heart by the power of his Spirit. The picture I can see only when I look first to Jesus, then to others.
I expected that parenting would involve many things, but never did I realize how much spiritual growth it would involve. There really needed to be less of me and more of Jesus.
There really needs to be less of me and more of Jesus. Every day. Every moment.
And every moment my girls are the mirror that Jesus uses to reflect the broken areas of my heart or my attitude. And when people say they see me in one of my daughters they have no idea how incredibly deep that resemblance actually goes.
My hope is that as I continue to work with Jesus in the process of becoming who he created me and calls me to be, that I will reflect that to my girls. And that eventually people will see Jesus in them more than me.
I hope, too, that I will see Jesus in myself more and more when I look into the mirror that are these two precious, amazing girls that God has given me to love, to nurture, to walk along beside.
That is what makes parenting so dangerous to me. Because it requires way more than taking care of my girls. It requires me to see the dark places inside me. And it requires me to invite Jesus inside them.
No matter how much that scares me.