This Labor is Not in Vain

As a parent, I am a teacher.  Not because I am a homeschooling parent, but because I am a parent.  Parents are children’s’ first teachers, and that ministry is such an honor.  An honor, but definitely not easy!  As I watch these boys grow up, I find myself always hoping they will turn out “better” than me.  I don’t want them to make the same mistakes that I’ve made.  But how does that happen?  “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  (Luke 6:40)  Be like his teacher?  Be like me?  I think to myself (and to the blogging world), “That’s what I don’t want!”

On the days when my patience is being tested, and my ability to balance responsibilities of housekeeping and teaching, or of being a compassionate friend or a creative parent, or commitments outside the home and my duties as a wife seems to be off-balance, I try to remember that if I want my children to be better than me, then I must be better.  I must do my best to present myself to God as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15).  I must “show [myself] in all respects to be a model of good works, and in [my] teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech…” (Titus 2:7-8)

Fall and stumble, I do.  This is hard.  Without question, parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  When I feel like the kids are being rowdy or picking on one another, I have observed that my heart has not been in parent mode and that I am not fully present with them – I’m paying bills, or scheduling appointments, or creating lessons, or working with one child and not the others.  Being fully present with them sometimes takes a lot of effort and planning.  I will work to remember that when they aren’t behaving the way I want them to behave, then I need to take a step back and determine whether or not my behaviors are appropriate.

There are so many beautiful moments – moments when I want to be able to record them and play them over and over and over and never forget how proud I am of these boys that have been lent to me.  These are the moments I want to focus on.  Must focus on.  There are times when I replay those frustrating moments – telling my husband or talking to friends.  That’s not right.  Silly as it might be, my childhood days of singing songs by Jewel still impact me as an adult:

I have this theory that if we’re told we’re bad
Then that’s the only idea we’ll ever have
But maybe if we are surrounded in beauty
Someday we will become what we see
‘Cause anyone can start a conflict
It’s harder yet to disregard it
I’d rather see the world from another angle
We are everyday angels
Be careful with me ’cause I’d like to stay that way

Don’t complain about the hard days.  They’re going to be hard.  Be what I want the children to become.  It’s hard to disregard conflict, but the joy of seeing the world from another angle is more than worth the effort.  Surround myself in beauty, and give my children the opportunity as well.

“…Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord the labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. Deuteronomy 28:6