On a particularly ball-grasping day, she broke me and I was left wondering, "How do I handle this child in a God-honoring way?" I can usually maintain my patience, tone, and consistency in discipline, but there are times when the clashing of our wills causes me to scream, to spank her, grab her by the arm, or on this particular occasion, shatter a window. On that day, I literally reached my breaking point with her. For a solid four hours, Adeline decided to defy everything I said. She was in testing mode and in no mood to back down. After hours of battle, I was headed to the sink to refill my son's cup when another bullet from her arsenal hit. In fury, I threw the cup down into the sink. At least that was my intention. However, it landed a couple inches higher than I anticipated, smashing the window just above the sink. I truly did not intend to break the window in my frustration, but regardless, I did. After that came the sobbing, my sobbing. As I cleared away the broken glass with tears soaked cheeks, Adeline sang a beautiful original tune about how we all make mistakes. She then lovingly ushered her brother out of the kitchen explaining that mommy needed to take a break.
My husband arrived home five minutes later--what a scene to welcome him home! I sat crying in the living room as both children exclaimed to him that mommy broke the window. He attempted to console me, but I just needed some time alone. As I sat on my bed trying to process the afternoon's events and the aftermath of my actions, my two-year-old son reminded me that there's no such thing as being alone anymore. He doesn't believe in that concept. He looked at me with his sweet brown eyes and asked, "Mommy sad?" I said yes and then he grabbed the Bible beside my bed and ordered, "Mommy read." His wisdom led me to open the Bible randomly and I instantly fell upon Jeremiah 29: 11-14: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord...." I felt the Holy Spirit reassuring me that Adeline is God's plan for me. He chose me to be her mother. God knows I possess everything it will take to raise her in a way that will glorify Him, even if I can't always see that. To succeed as her parent, I need to continuously seek Him, as the strong-willed child requires constant and diligent training.
I also realized in that moment that Adeline's personality was crafted in a way that enables me to become more like Christ. If our daughter were a compliant child I would not be challenged to grow in my areas of weakness. Raising her is allowing me the opportunity to grow in my patience, anger management, and trust. Because of Adeline, I am learning to walk more like Christ on a daily basis. I will fail, naturally, but once I recoup, I've found another piece of the puzzle that slowly reveals Christ's image (in me). The battles she wages are for my blessing.
Once I was finished reading and praying on Jeremiah 29, Lincoln handed me another book, my prayer journal. He once again told me to read and I opened it up to a page that revealed 1 Thessalonians 5:16: "Rejoice Always." It was exactly what I needed to see. Not rejoice sometimes. Not rejoice when your kids are obedient. Not rejoice in your parenting success. Not rejoice when your kids make you proud. Not rejoice when you feel like you have it all together (for the moment). But rejoice always! Despite the challenge of Adeline's strong will, there is so much about my daughter for which I rejoice. She is honestly the most loving, compassionate, and prayer-filled person I have ever encountered--and she's four! She spreads the Word of God nearly everywhere she goes and has complete confidence in God's existence and infinite power. I cannot fathom the force for Christ that she will evolve into--equipped by God with insurmountable determination, flaming passion, and a heart melted for Jesus and the least of these. In time, Adeline's qualities that led me to my breaking point will one day be beautifully matured and redirected in order to spread the message of the Gospel in the way God has designed for her.
So, what should you do when you're about to hit breaking point? And how do you recover your joy?
1. Take the opportunity to look more like God. How can you respond in a way that represents Christ? Be thankful for the chance to allow the Holy Spirit to move in you and address you child in a way that glorifies God's love and grace.
2. You are going to make mistakes as a parent. Accept that knowledge and embrace the errors, as it provides you the opening to teach your children about apologizing and extending forgiveness. Allow them to see you not only seeking their forgiveness but most importantly, God's.
3. Rejoice. Praise God for your child's will, which He has purposefully sculpted in a unique way. You have the blessing of molding this child and growing them in the Lord so that they may one day honor Him with the traits and talents He designed for such a reason.
4. Do something fun with you child to reconnect and repair the relationship.
5. Pray daily (and fervently!) for your child, while also seeking God's guidance in your role as a parent.
What was your big parenting blunder and how did you recover your joy?