by Caroline Almand
I often think, “I didn’t focus enough on Scripture memory this week. I should have used that recent situation as a teachable moment to point to Jesus. We need to be doing more family Bible studies, family devotions, and family journals. I am missing opportunities to encourage serving others and missions because I’m not finding community-based options for my family. Why haven’t I read aloud more missionary biographies at bedtime?” On and on this goes… “Why am I not doing more to show my family Jesus? My parenting is a failure!”
All of these parenting tasks are so important and feel desperately necessary. And, all of these things are so good! Yet, all the striving to do more puts me squarely on a roller coaster of “should haves” that leads straight to shame, regret, guilt, and fear.
“I should have… What if my failure to do so leads to…”
I can concoct some pretty awful scenarios in my mind based on my failures of not doing more as a parent.
Lately, I have been trying to slow down and think about this a bit more. Are these the things my family actually needs the most? If I do these things, will I feel more confident that my parenting will lead to Jesus? Is it my accomplishment of these parenting tasks that will lead to my child’s salvation?
This brings me to two reminders. First, I am reminded that I have no ability to draw a child’s heart to God. It is pride that causes me to think that my actions may result in the salvation of another. In humility, I can pray toward that end and wait in hopefulness. God does the rest!
Second, I am reminded of a book that was recommended to me years ago. This book is called “Parenting is Your Highest Calling: And 8 Other Myths that Trap Us in Worry and Guilt” by Leslie Leyland Fields. I am embarrassed to say that I have not yet read the book. Nevertheless, the title really sticks with me and causes me to pause. Isn’t parenting supposed to be the most important thing I do? Aren’t I supposed to lay down my life for the one I parent? If parenting isn’t my highest calling, what is?
I am learning that all of the parenting tasks, while obviously important, are not actually my highest calling. God has been using this realization to reshape who I am as a person and parent. What I am learning is that following Jesus, sacrificing for Him, obeying Him…THAT is my highest calling! Everything else, even parenting, is secondary to the calling upon my life to be his! He must be utmost; He alone is to be worshipped! My new hope and prayer for myself, and for the families of our church, is that we rest in our true highest calling. I pray that I can rest in knowing Jesus and spending time with Him. I pray I can let all the other things fall into place behind my calling to be his disciple. As I spend time with Him and obey Him, the rest comes more naturally and I live in freedom rather than fear. Certainly, my child will see more fully and hear more clearly who Jesus is when I allow my devotion to Him to be preeminent in my life, my highest calling!