I knew the role of motherhood would come with many other job titles, like nurse, cook, housekeeper, referee, etc, but the role that took me most by surprise was the role of listener.
As our first two kids approached their toddler and preschool years we were faced with the stark reality that a one size fits all parenting model falls apart as soon as you are faced with an individual. (Especially a child who does not enter a family with a deep root system of trust.)
We had to lay that model down. But then what? We wanted grace and hope for our family. All we knew was to slow down and listen. We needed to be better attuned to the unique needs of each child. As I stepped into the role of listener and learner of my children, I found great unexperienced joy in my role as mommy. I was walking a new journey. I was connecting with their hearts. I started celebrating their individuality, their unique needs, and personal wiring. Their little learning and processing ticks no longer sent me into frustration or fear. I was able to better see them as perfectly created BY HIM.
Not surprisingly, this new found responsibility of being a listener, also brought with it yet more subtle fear of failure and pressure to get an A++ in the parenting category….can you say OVER ACHEIVER????? What if I don’t hear their true heart need? What if I can’t really discern what is behind their behavior? What if I discipline a behavior that is rooted in fear or over stimulation? What if I don’t/can’t…….. the list went on and on. I wanted to “DO IT RIGHT”.
These questions and sheer desperation took me one step deeper into listening. I was drawn to Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”. HOPE!!! At this moment my personal listening journey truly began. I fell to my face before Elohim- the God who created the whole universe. The all-knowing God.
The truth…if I called out to HIM, the One who spoke the world into existence, He would speak into not only my days as a mom and my children’s lives, but into every area of my life! It brought such a surge of hope, peace, and joy.
The Holy Spirit would be MY great counselor, MY ever-present help in time of trouble. He knew my children’s needs more than I did or ever would. He loved them more than I ever humanly could. He knit them together. He knew their thoughts, their hearts, their fears, their emotional and physical needs.
While I was educated and well read on kids with trauma in their past and special physical needs… I struggled in the pressure filled moments of motherhood to make connections in my mind and put the puzzle pieces of what I learned together. I needed to learn to listen to the heart of the Father for my children. I needed to remember that I was HIS daughter and He would lead me moment by moment and step by step along the road of parenting.
I began to approach my interactions with the kids prayerfully, in the Spirit, listening to his leading as I parented, counseled, corrected and connected with them. (Please do NOT HEAR me say I have it all figured out or I handle every interaction with my kids as the Holy Spirit would….far from it!!!! In the moments when I do not respond with compassion and understanding, I run…or limp… to Lord and receive grace that is freely mine in Him. Then I ask for forgiveness from the kids…or hubby…and we enjoy the beauty of unconditional grace and forgiveness from our loving Savior.)
I have found such peace in my parenting. It is no longer ruled by fear of failure or fear of their future. We are but stewards walking a healing journey with them IN the Lord. We too are in need of the grace of the gospel.
I have found hope in parenting. The Lord has over and over whispered to me… “Tona, I have given you eyes to see and ears to hear ME! I will give you wisdom, insight, and understanding. Trust me. Do not fear. Be still. Listen to ME. I will give you strength when you are wearing. I will!!!”
He has reminded me WE ARE NOT our children’s savior. That role belongs to HIM and HIM alone. My husband and I can aid in their healing. We can provide a safe relationship for them to learn to trust. We can provide nurture and structure for their hearts and minds to rest. We can provide love. We can parent therapeutically. BUT we are not their savior. HE IS. So, we need to LISTEN TO HIM! We want to cooperate with the Lord in our parenting.
Lord, please help us learn to hear your voice as a sheep hears a shepherd’s voice (John 10:27). Please help us parent our children under the leadership and prompting of the Holy Spirit.