Saturday, February 5, 2011

Preparing Ahead of Time

Mrs. Beaver:

This week confirmed something about parenting I have known for a long time: one of my primary roles as a parent is correction.

In all honesty, this role tends to bring out the worst in me. The need for correction rarely comes at a convenient time. The need for correction always requires that I lay aside my own desires. The need for correction often occurs when I'm tired and worn.

However, I don't want to be irritable and self-righteous when one or more of my children requires being guided back to God-pleasing behavior. I love my children. I consider myself to be a mother blessed twelve times over, by a most generous God, with twelve beautiful children. Thus, when poor behavior requires me to play the role of child-corrector, I want to please God myself with my own behavior.

I've come to recognize that it helps me to think biblically in the heat of the moment if I prepare ahead of time. I can rehearse thoughts that prepare me for how I will respond when called upon to correct.

About five years ago I was inspired by three passages to write the following prayer. With three new children in our family and twelve children still living in our home, I still need the biblical reminders in these verses and the nudges embedded in the prayer:

"I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls" 2 Corinthians 12:15

"He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children." Psalm 113:9

"Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." Galatians 6:8

O Gracious Father,
I am grateful that You invite me to call you Father.
O, that I may plumb the depths of Your willingness to
   let this creature address the Creator
   with such familiarity.
I am grateful that You are a loving, compassionate, Father
   who is eternally patient with me,
   faithfully drawing me unto Yourself.
Your end for me is always my good.
I long to parent as You parent.
You have been most generous to make this barren woman a mother.
Thank You, Lord.
Now, O Lord, as only You can, change my heart
    that I might "most gladly spend and be expended"
    for the sake of the souls of my children.
I need only look to Jesus to catch sight of a life lived this way.
He was willing to be scourged, spat upon, beaten,
   mocked and crucified.
You ask so very little of me.
As only You can, change my heart.
Destroy my deep-seated desire that parenting be easy.
Destroy my deep-seated desire that parenting not make
    inconvenient or costly demands on me.
I sin when I seek my own ease and comfort over my role to bring
   my children's souls to the foot of Your throne through instruction and correction.
Crush the arrogance in me that gets exasperated when my children
   need to be disciplined again and again for the same offense.
Eliminate my tendency to react harshly when I must set aside my goals and plans
   to attend to their needs.
As only You can, change my heart.
Make me humble and loving,
   merciful and compassionate,
   just as You are my Father.
May the end of all I do as a parent be my children's good,
   my focus on their souls.
Help me to parent as You parent, my gracious Father.

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