Entitled or Called

Someone almost crashed into me the other day. He pulled out right in front of me and I had to swerve to avoid hitting him. I didn’t curse or gesture at him. I was just relieved to have avoided the accident. However, when I looked over at him he was foaming at the mouth, face flushed and contorted with anger, and he was yelling at me through his window. The nerve! He should be thanking me and apologizing. It’s hard enough to tolerate people’s stupidity without them turning the tables on you like that.

Do you ever feel like that with your kids? Like all you’ve ever done is love them and help them and sacrifice for them, and you get back disobedience or disrespect in return? It can be infuriating! We are entitled to have them obey and respect us and love us, right?! Isn’t that what the Bible says, “Honor your father and mother,” “Children obey your parents?”

Let me tell you what hard pill the Lord has had me swallowing these days. He’s been teaching me to stop thinking about what I’m entitled to and start thinking about what I’m called to.

We live in a society and culture that says we have rights. As the Constitution puts it, “inalienable rights.” In fact, lots of the current political turmoil we face is over someone’s right to have or do something.

God calls us, as his children, to a better place. He calls us to lay down our rights and serve others. It’s what Jesus did for us. 1 Peter 2:19-23 says:

“For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. . . if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Sometimes, as parents, we do a lot of good for our children and end up suffering very unjustly for it. God calls us to bear up under this and endure it. He doesn’t want us to retaliate or lash out in anger at our children. No, he wants us to love them and entrust ourselves to him.

This doesn’t mean that we allow our children to be disobedient or disrespectful. No, never! What it does mean is that we quelch that, “How dare you!” attitude and bring the loving, firm, and consistent discipline that they need. We bear and endure the unjust treatment they are flinging our way. We don’t fling anger and rage back in their direction. We correct with the utmost patience, gentleness and kindness of our Savior. This is what we are called to.

Everytime I feel upset because the kids have turned those tables on me, I need to remind myself to stop thinking about what I’m entitled to and start thinking about what I’m called to.

The Cursed Crib

“This crib is cursed!” This was the determination we came to after fifteen different people messaged us about buying the crib we were trying to sell and then backed out of the sale at the last minute. After the first two scheduled pick ups didn’t show I was frustrated, but my 14 year old daughter, Julia, said, “Mom, stop trying to sell that crib. God probably has it for some specific person.” That was a nice thought, but I kept right on trying to sell that crib. Three weeks and five more scheduled pick ups later I was beyond frustrated. Then, I received a message from a local pastor stating that he was looking for a crib for his church nursery. After talking with him and seeing the need our brothers and sisters from another church had for the crib, we decided to give the crib to them.

The crib wasn’t cursed. It was reserved for God’s people and Kingdom purposes. It all made sense when I looked back and remembered what Julia had said. As I pondered the situation, Romans 8:28 came to mind and I realized that every time I read or recited that verse, it was with myself in mind. I find it easy to embrace the thought that God works all things together for MY good. But, what about when He is working things together for the good of another who loves him and is called according to his purpose. Can I rejoice and celebrate that good even if it comes at a cost to me?

Joseph did this so well. He suffered terribly and unjustly for many years, and at the end of it all he was able to say that it was all for good because it was God’s way of saving many lives.(Genesis 50:19-21) He was able to be at peace with his own suffering and difficulty because it worked out a great good for others.

We will encounter this again and again in parenting. God will call us to the other side of Romans 8:28 then perhaps we intended to be on. There will be many times when we will experience frustration, difficulty, resistance, pain, and suffering as parents. Can we be at peace with knowing that God is working out something so good for our children as we faithfully minister to them? Can we let go of some of our plans and take up God’s plans instead?

Ultimately, there is a good in it for us also. I was more excited and blessed to give that crib away than to sell it. I got to experience being a part of God’s work and having Him reveal Himself to me as one who goes to great lengths to bless those He loves.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by difficulties that you’re facing as a parent right now, be encouraged that God is at work in ways you may not be able to see or understand. He is going to great lengths to bless you, and He is wanting you to join Him as he goes to great lengths to bless your children. Stay the course. Continue in love and patience and be diligent. Very good things are coming!

Letting Your Children Go Under

Hands flew up in the air. Water splashed. Claps and cheers erupted, as I exclaimed, “A swimmer is born!” Then we all watched and waited as it all unfolded again before our eager eyes. Not one, but two of my daughters learned to swim on their own today. Their five-year-old little brother was not to be outdone. He said, “Take my puddle jumper off mom. I want to swim too.” I said, “Okay, Brogal, if you want to try you can. Mommy will stay right beside you.” I walked hand in hand out to the deep end of the pool with him. Once his feet couldn’t reach the bottom, I asked if he was ready and then let him go. He tried to keep himself afloat but sunk quickly under. I lifted him up, let him catch his breath, and then let him go again. Again he sank. Again I lifted him up. After three tries he decided he had swallowed enough water and cried and asked to go back to the shallow end of the pool. I took him back and reassured him that in time he would learn to swim on his own too. I explained that when his big sisters were his age they too went under when trying to swim and that it took a long time and lots of swallowed water before they could swim on their own.

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