Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Last weekend our youngest daughter Olivia, now 13, completed her fourth South Central District Horse Show. The show is held each May sponsored by the North Carolina 4H program for youth 5-18 years old. Olivia is passionate about horses and loves the horse she leases named Heart. He is a registered Paint with an easy going disposition most of the time, until he decides to push the limits. At one point in the show, after Olivia completed a class of Ranch handling, I suggested she work on a particular skill to improve it. Her response was not what I expected. She said, “He is being a brat, and I am having a hard time making him do what I want.” I felt her discouragement and tried to encourage her to rely on her training and to not give up. I finished by saying how proud I was of her and to remember to be thankful for the opportunity to compete. Our Olivia began riding when she was nine and to this day, her courage to mount an animal that outweighs her by over a thousand pounds and simply ride still amazes me. As she finished her first set of lessons and began to build on her training she accepted the challenge to demonstrate what she was learning and joined the 4H Equine club. This opened a door to the horse show world, and the commitment of time and the challenges of training. I watched my daughter grow as she worked hard and stayed focused on the standards required and her goals.
What an excellent picture of what it can feel like as we parent. Many times our responses are rooted in discouragement and yet when we remember to be thankful for our children, it helps us to refocus and remember the importance of our job to train them with purpose. Every day we must remember we are all in training, learning to extend and accept mercy when we fail. We must be purposeful and point our children to the Lord by teaching them His word and His standards for living. As parents it is important to understand parenting is hard work but remembering God knew the challenges we would face. He desires we lean into parenting with His guidance and help. In the process He transforms our hearts, helping us to grow as we learn to extend mercy and grace to our children, which in turn draws them to the Lord.
I just finished reading an excellent book titled Parenting: Gospel Principles. The author states it will radically change your family.
After finishing the book I agree with His statement. Perspective is everything and this book is an excellent resource to get our eyes focused on the big picture of how God intended for us to parent with the end goal of our children surrendering their hearts to Him.
I have been a parent for 32 years and I still have the thought of how have I done it , especially with eight daughters and during the years my soldier was often gone and I was SO outnumbered and SO responsible. Each time I come to the same conclusion, I did it ONLY by the strength and grace of God. I chose to rise very early each day, so I had time to meet my own physical needs and spend time with my true source of help and wisdom. Then when my kiddos began to rise I was ready! Armor on and prepared for the demands and challenges of the day ahead. God was there for me in every moment or every day!
I want to encourage you through the challenges of parenting to know God intends you grow in faith and purposefully stay focused on His goal as you parent. You can rest in the fact that He is faithful and He will do it. (1 Thess 5:24) He will provide for your every need and give you the courage and faith to trust Him even more for each day as you seek Him.