Every loving mama who holds a sweet babe in arms, also cradles an earnest ache to do it all right for her child. Every loving mama wants to love generously, speak gently, provide for every need manifestly, and nurture in a way that builds her child’s sense of identity, purpose, and belonging.
Every loving mama climbs into bed at night and wakes in the morning longing to do it better, desiring to be more intentional, intending to chose words more carefully, wanting to make absolutely sure that her children know how loved and special they are.
Every loving parent intends to gently shepherd the next generation into a radiant future.
I don’t know about you, but no matter how much I want to be that parent, when my nerves are frayed, and one of my children pushes just hard enough, just long enough, just in that particular way, something entirely different bubbles up in me. Irritation takes over, and harsh words beg to spill out of my mouth. Distaste sits on my tongue. My thoughts unsettle me, as the ugly ones jostle around in my spirit with all of the love and hopes and dreams and good intentions. When I feel most disrespected and defied, my dignity revolts a bit, and I can look in those little eyes on those little faces with nothing much to say other than “How dare you?!” And “Because I said so.”
I know the mom I want to be in those moments. And friends, thanks to the grace of God, most of the time the words that actually come out of my mouth are words of life and blessing and gentle correction.
But this bizarre concoction of feelings – passionately wanting the best for my children, and the simultaneous sourness that makes kind and gentle words the furthest from my mouth – leaves me with a war waging inside of my mouth. At times, it feels like a tossup which side will win the turn to speak.
When all is quiet, I know that I know that I know that my children are a gift and a blessing from the Lord, and that God is equipping my husband and I to love and shepherd and guide them into abundant living. I know that there is hope. I know that am seen by my God on these long days, and that He delights in all of the moments when I have died to my dignity, to my comfort, to my right to respect. I know that God sees me and loves me and that his grace is sufficient.
But in the heat of the moment, I sometimes just need some practical tools to stop impatience and frustration from spilling out of my mouth before all of that beautiful perspective has a chance to make it to my lips.
I have often found one simple prayer to be just what I need to bring a jolt of hope and a fast dose of perspective. I am learning to whisper in the quiet of my heart one simple prayer that helps words of life win out, when a fiery battle is waging.
This humble prayer shifts my priorities, and gives me new eyes, lifts me out of the emotions of the moment. It helps me to shed my desire to defend myself and demand respect. This unadorned prayer cools my boiling blood and brings fresh perspective.
I weakly stammer it out in the quiet of my heart… “Lord, give me your eyes for this child.”
It’s simple and obvious, but the reverie slows my breath and widens my view. I breathe in a glimpse of my children’s true identity as precious masterpieces of a loving Creator God, who knit them together carefully and beautifully and reverently… as I consider a God who intends to continue his work on my children.… as I consider the possibility that our God will choose my children for remarkable world-changing things that will require their strong will and determination and deep commitment to justice, though it is currently being used to argue the disparate number of Cheerios in their sibling’s bowl.
I summon it up from the deep places where my hope and fierce love for my children dwells…”Lord, what do you see when you look at this tiny person?”
As I pry my hands open with the question, God deposits vision and hope that fuels my perseverance.
When I look at my children with the lens that God offers, I see leadership instead of bossiness. I see discernment instead of fear. I see creativity instead of awkwardness. I see compassion instead of fragility. I see tenacity instead of stubbornness. I see courageous nonconformity instead of obstinance.
This prayer is multiplying my joy, and changing the way I parent.
Try it with me, Sister?
When the days get a little messy, dare to ask the Lord what he sees when he looks at your little one. Let your imagination run wild with God’s beautiful creativity on each of your precious children, and let it reshape the trickiest moments of your parenting.