Our family took a walk in the mountains a couple weeks ago. I can't really call it a hike, because we didn't go far enough for that, because kids. Actually, I would've been happy to sit by the little stream and eat watermelon, but I went on the walk. Again, because kids.
And I was glad I did. We got to experience a lot of different things, and as I thought it all over the next few days, I realized a few parallels. As it turns out, parenting is a walk in the Rocky Mountains. And then God gave me some beautiful mind pictures to go along with it. So, I'm inviting you to take this walk with me and we're going to get a new look of our parenting.
When we got to the mountains, we set up our little day camp spot, complete with chairs, watermelon, and lots of water. It was comfortable and restful. I felt like I could sit there and take in the beauty all day. Much like the day we brought our first baby home. And our second. Well, kinda the same for babies 3, 4, 5, and 6 too. I didn't know everything about parenting (still don't) or about this tiny little person I was holding, or anything, really. But it felt cozy and beautiful and I just wanted to sit in that season for a while. Spiritually speaking, it didn't require a whole lot for me. Tender prayers, sweet songs, sacred blessings; these are the things we whisper over our newest ones.
Soon, it was time to move on. The kids were calling us to explore, so we went, leaving the comfortable area we knew and exploring new ones. The two oldest led the way, the middle ones held our hands and the babies were in our arms, as we trudged along a trail worn by many wild hooves and paws.
I marveled at the independence of the older two. The rocks, sticks, and streams that crossed their path barely slowed them down. They were ready and eager to see everything they could, experience all the beauty around them, and show us how they could do things on their own. It reminded me of how they are in their search for Jesus. They want to understand things. They want to read the Bible on their own. They're curious about how Christianity looks in everyone around them. They're slowly gaining their independence.
While I was surprised at the independence of our oldest, I found myself somewhat frustrated by the slow progress of the middle ones. At two and four, every stick was seen as an obstacle, every mud puddle something to be splashed in or lifted over. There were tears and grouchy looks and total disobedience. I had to shorten my stride and guide them each step along the way, often taking the brunt of the scratchy branches and pokes from barbed wire fence.
Later, Jesus gently showed me how much I am like them as I seek to follow Him. I tend to whine a lot and think the smallest things are giant obstacles. Maybe there'll be more on that another day.
Jesus also showed me how I can be impatient in my gentle nurturing of their souls. My oldest two are making me eager to lengthen my stride and get into meatier teaching with them. But a child of preschool age needs the gentlest nurturing towards Jesus. Right now, they are learning Jesus through my actions and responses to them. When I am gentle and calm, focused on my good Shepherd, we walk along much easier. When I am impatient in my parenting, they stumble. A lot.
We finally sat down on a mossy bank by the stream. The babies needed to eat and the toddlers needed a rest. My husband took the oldest two out to explore. Everything felt peaceful and idyllic. The wild mint scented the air and the black granite rocks gave the stream beside us a fairy tale feel. Soon the older kids came running back to me, full of excitement. As their words tumbled over each other, my heart jumped to my throat. A rattlesnake on the path? Fairytale no more!
I wanted to tell them we were done. We were packing up and heading home, away from any snakes. Snakes in the path? Not on my watch!
But we can't protect our children from seeing or experiencing snakes. In my heart I knew this experience would make them better explorers. Now my older kids know how a snake sounds. Now my younger ones know I'm serious when I tell them obedience could save their lives.
Our kids will meet many snakes along the path of life. We cannot protect them from it. But we can teach them to be aware, to notice the snakes of anger, unkindness, false teaching, etc. And we can show them how to walk safely in the way.
At the end of our adventure, we ended back up at our day camp. At the end of the day, we bring our children, both big and small, back to the basics. We gather them around us, we pray, we sing, and we speak the sweet blessings of their loving Heavenly Father over them. And then we do it all over again. And again. And again. And as mamas, we get weary. We want to sit in the day camp and do the familiar. We don't want things to change. It takes energy to teach our children about Christ. It takes energy to show them Christ. It takes courage to let them gain their independence. It takes faith to let them walk out on their own. But this is our mission: to raise brave, independent, wise, faithful explorers, who will walk with courage and guide others along the way.
The last picture Jesus gave me was for the future. I saw our walk ending on a mountain top, our children all grown up around us. And we handed each child a glider, wings of their own. And together, we jumped from the mountain top and we soared. Our children took off in different directions, on their own journeys. But from time-to-time, our air current paths would cross and there was so much joy as we each soared through the mountain peaks, living free, as our Creator intended us too.
There is no such thing as overnight success, Mama. Not in anything. Not in popularity, not in building a social media following, not in a lucrative career. Certainly not in parenting. It is one step after another. Lifting branches out of the way, holding little hands as they cross the streams, a warm hug for bumped heads and scratched knees, a look of encouragement for independent little explorers. It is days, months and years of work and faithfulness, until, someday, we will reach the mountaintop and set our children free to soar the heights with their Creator. No longer dependent on us, but a source of joyful friendship.
May it be so, Jesus, may it be so! Make us faithful!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.