parenting a three-year-old is no easy task. parenting an opinionated, overly dramatic, stubborn three-year-old is enough to send me to my knees in prayer multiple times a day (sometimes multiple times an hour) ;)
add in said three-year-old's inquisitive and strong willed little sister and there are days i rotate between breathing and praying. :)
often times i question .... am i doing enough? am i doing too much? am i being fair? are the consequences fitting? am i showing enough grace? are they listening? are they listening? are they listening? CAN THEY HEAR ME?!?! ;-)
and on an on.
just this evening for instance, we were outside enjoying an ice cream treat when libbi decided it would be a good idea to wander down the sidewalk. i wanted her to stay where i could see her from the front porch, so i showed her the "line" that she was not allowed to cross. as long as she stayed on the right side of this line, she would remain in my line of vision and i could watch out for her. and just like any curious little three year old, she decided to push the limits. i can't tell you how many times she "toed the line." what began as a little brush with her pinky toe, turned into a full on balance beam routine. and each time she approached "the line", she would glance my way and i would give her the look reminding her that i was still watching and i still expected her to obey. pretty soon, she got so wrapped up in getting as close to the line as she possibly could without crossing it, that she stopped looking my way. until...
one slip of her little croc wearing foot and there she was lying on the other side of the line. it happened so quickly that she didn't even have time to stop herself. and as soon as she fell, she knew. she knew she had crossed the line and broken the rules. she immediately looked my way, her face filled with remorse. and even though she "didn't mean to!" i still had to follow through with the consequences. i know she didn't mean to trip and cross the line, but i also know that if she had listened and taken to heart what i had asked of her, then she wouldn't have fallen. it's a hard lesson to learn and when i think about it, it's one i'm still working on myself.
there are so many parallels between parenting young children and my relationship with Christ. how many times do i "toe the line" knowing that i'm playing with fire? it's just like any sin in my life. i know what the Lord says. i know what i should do, but there are plenty of times that i find myself coming as close to the line as possible, without actually crossing it. and each time i approach the line, that "sin" becomes easier and easier and His voice becomes more and more distant. until i'm so consumed with my own selfish desires that i stop listening altogether. and then, just like libbi, before i know it, i've "tripped" and there i am on the other side. it's a humbling realization that the same things i'm working so hard to teach my own children, the Lord is trying to teach me.
it's embarrassing to admit how quickly i can spiritually morph into a version of a three-year-old. how many times do i ask libbi, "are you listening to me?" throughout the day (i'll give you a hint: countless!) but how many times does the Lord want to say to me, "Amy, are YOU listening to ME?" (again, i'm afraid the answer would be: countless)
and just as libbi sometimes chooses not to heed the warnings or instructions that i've given her, i know i often choose to do what i want instead of what the Lord has asked of me. and in turn, i risk missing out on the blessings He has in store for me or having to face the consequences of disobedience.
parenting is hard. no doubt about it. but it's beautifully, wonderfully hard. just when i think i've reached my breaking point, libbi will say or do something that immediately fills my heart to the brim and i'm positive the love i feel will cause me to burst. i love both of my girls more than i could ever put into words. being their mother is one of my greatest joys in this life. and it just totally and completely blows my mind that HE loves ME even more than that. and just as i desire to teach my girls and discipline them out of love - HE does the same for ME. every "yes" and especially every "no" are given out of love. when libbi wanted to wander down the sidewalk (alone), i told her "no" and showed her where i expected her to stay. it wasn't because i wanted her to miss out on anything or limit her fun time. it was because i wanted to keep her safe. i knew the possibilities of what could happen when she crossed that line, even if she didn't. i wanted to protect her, because i love her. and i knew that the safest place she could be at that moment was by my side. how many times do i ignore that very same sentiment when it concerns my relationship with the Lord? too many, i'm afraid. He doesn't "limit" me with the "no's" He protects me with them. He sees what's on the other side of "the line" when i don't and He lovingly reminds me that the safest place I can be is right by His side.
"Love the Lord your God. Walk in all His ways and hold on to Him...."