Works in Progress: Our Children and Us

Nov 12 - girl version, Shimmery Pink Butterfly shoes
Photo Credit: mia3mom

“Please take your shoes off and put them in the basket, Cora.” 

“Cora, take off your shoes and put them up.” 

“Go in your room and do not come out until your shoes are off and in their place.” 

“Cora, why are your shoes still on your feet?” 

Finally, leading my two-year-old by the hand, I take her to the shoe basket in her room, kneel down, remove her shoes while she thrashes and protests, “I do it, Mama!” I chastise her for not listening and obeying the first time and am clearly irritated with her disobedience.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Do you feel like you have told your child repeatedly what your expectations are, even shown her how to carry them out on countless occasions, and she still digs in her heels and goes on her own merry way?

I have high expectations of my kids. Sometimes they are a little too high, but usually what I expect them to be able to do is within their realm of achievement if they will only listen and make the effort. 

I don’t expect perfection but at least an attempt! Oh how it burns me up to hear my child say, “I can’t do it!” when I know full well she hasn’t even tried. She is simply waiting for me to do it for her. 

And then I think about how irritated God must be with me when I dig in my heels and go on my own merry way because I don’t want to obey Him right then or I don’t think I am capable of doing what He asks of me. Or I dawdle in hopes that He will just do it for me.

Even when He leads me by the hand to where He wants me to go and shows me exactly what He wants me to do, I balk and protest:

“If You absolutely insist, God, I’ll do it, but I’m doing it my way.”

And how does our ever patient, ever loving Father respond?

Not like me: with anger, frustration, and irritation. 

But with patience, gentleness, and compassion. 

With grace.

Why?

Because He knows I am a work in progress. I’m not “there” yet. I haven’t arrived and never will.

Like Peter in Mark 8:29, I know who Jesus is, but I don’t always comprehend what it means to truly follow Him. 

Like my child who needs constant repetition and instruction with gentleness and love, I too require the firm but patient hand of my Lord to guide me. 

Sometimes that guidance requires discipline but always it is for my good.

Maturity takes time. It is a process. While I would like for my children to always do what I tell them, I know that is not realistic. They will disobey. They will test me. They will see if I really mean what I say. 

In those moments, I need to be like my God and with a firm gentleness, guide them, discipline them when necessary, but show them grace and keep loving them despite their flaws.

Like me, my children are also works in progress. They need me to be persistent and consistent in my training but also merciful and kind.

“But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them {Israel}, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf…” 

Nehemiah 9:17b-18a

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Comments

  1. Stopped by from The Better Mom link up! I appreciate reading godly parenting advice as I prepare to be a first time mom in about a month! I love the comparison between our children and us and God. Great analogy! I am hosting a link up for moms and would LOVE for you to add this post to it!
    Here’s the link: http://the-life-of-faith.blogspot.com/2012/11/mommy-moments-19.html

  2. Great post, Keri. I sometimes feel this way with both my little girl and my husband. I expect too much and get frustrated when they don’t measure up. Thanks for the great perspective. If you’ve got 1 year old discipline success tips up your sleeves (especially for spewing food at mealtime) I’d LOVE to hear it. My husband and I have no idea how to make that stop.

    • Thanks, Jelli. I really don’t have any answers. We’ve tried all kinds of approaches to disciplining our young girls. What has worked best for us is isolation. When the child throws or spits out food, whines, or complains, she is sent to her room. The one-year-old would be put in her crib for a short timeout. We repeated this a few times until she stopped the bad behavior.

      Best of luck,
      Keri

  3. I can totally relate to this post! Thanks so much for sharing this mothering wisdom, and thank you so much for linking up to Artful Tuesdays!