I’m sort of stuck in neutral here – or am still drinking a cup of tea and mulling over Cindy’s ongoing blog entries and numerous(!!) comments from thoughtful readers. The original post was the springboard for a couple of my entries here and likely a few more. Now, from (her blog) was “Older Mothers of the World Unite,” which led to “Calling All Moms for Real Advice,” and then, today’s “Disciplining Children.” I don’t know of anything that gets women talking more than the multifaceted topic of discipline/child-training/pregnancy. Well, maybe… wifely submission. O, and dresses. Well, okay, and feminism.
And, after a comment I received here last night, I started thinking… not about what I hate to see younger moms doing but sort of in response that letter, I thought, well, what would I tell a young mom were my biggest mistakes? Or, rather, instead of sharing what I think is right, maybe I’d share some stuff I discovered along the way – some of my mistakes – and there’s not a top ten bcz, actually, mistakes, like sin, cannot be qualified or quantified exactly. Some things I thought were biggies – big mistakes – were actually not as big as I thought they were and a few things I didn’t think were all that bad were actually quite devastating. But I learned from them – or am learning from them.
So, here are some mistakes – ten of ’em.
1. Chocolate Hazelnut decaf Stash tea.
2. Chopped walnuts in pumpkin-pie filling.
3. Not closing the car door properly after grocery shopping.
4. Getting a dog from the pound.
5. Buying an old, valuable antique sofa that just needed to be recovered (it had plastic legs – I discovered later) .
6. Allowing cream of wheat to dry on the highchair tray.
7. Not keeping nail-polish on a high shelf.
8. Vacuuming up powdered sugar.
9. Allowing a teen-age son to help me keep the very squeaky back door oiled with WD-40 so that it opened and closed quietly for me.
10. Confusing or thinking that outward obedience was synonymous with inward submission.
So there you go… ten mistakes of the many I have made. It may seem I made light of mistakes – I have a tendency to use humour to share -but not gloss over- things I have learned.
In that list, that last one is or was one of the most serious and painful mistakes I/we have ever made. Now, I must interject here that I did then and do now believe that God is, indeed, sovereign and that He allows and works all things together for good — for my good and for my children’s good.
There was a period of time where we so sought to have our children following the Lord and obeying His Word that we were looking for homeschooling materials and methods to better help us accomplish that. We were willing to do anything – whatever it took – to train them up to be obedient, to be faithful, to be exemplary in character and in deed. It was, character first! to us, we were diligent to study – diligent to serve – diligent to strive for ‘mastery’ in education and skills. We consider that period of time to have been exceedingly valuable to us and is still benefiting us today. And you know why? Because we learned a very painful lesson about inward and outward discipline and appearance – and that we have a critically important job as parents to be sure of our children’s hearts and actions and we need to love each one of them in the way they, individually, need to be loved and nurtured. We learned some painful lessons about law and grace. We learned some very, very important lessons about virtual reality and literal reality – that seems isn’t the same as is. We learned that sometimes love is tough.
And so that is why, for me, one of the greatest mistakes I have ever made is looking on outward obedience and assuming sincere inward submission – both to God and to parents.
Now, that’s not the end of the story… because, God, being the loving, faithful, compassionate, merciful and gracious God that He is, could not – did not – leave us there. But He took us from there and has been leading us along the way through these many years. The squeaky back door? Well, that was ten years ago. It was a very important part of my life story – my/our parenting story – and God’s demonstration of faithful intervention on my behalf. You see, had I/we not had a wayward child, I/we might have been erroneously under the notion that *I* was/we were responsible for all the good things they were, are or did; I would, today, be an unbearable pharisee. I know, I know, to some I am unbearable – pharisee or no.
But just as I needed to learn what I learned in the valley after my husband’s recent heart attack, so also I needed to learn what I learned in the valley of being the mother of a prodigal. I love and appreciate my husband in ways I never have before and I love and appreciate my children in ways I couldn’t prior to having a prodigal and learning the invaluable lessons I learned. I do not wish for either of those two experiences for any other woman – but from those and other life experiences, I hope to encourage those who may never face them, those who have faced them or those who are in the midst of facing them. For, as I have said many times, sorrow skips no home and God wastes no thread.