I wanted him to just stop it already.
My weariness was creeping up on my desire to persevere and I wondered, “When is he going to get it?!”
My son's lack of contentment permeated so many of our daily interactions. If he ordered pancakes at a restaurant and the plates came to the table, he’d complain that he really wanted a hamburger. If I bought my boys new toothbrushes, each a different color, he cried over the fact that his brother got green and he got blue. He protested over where he was standing in line at school, the fact that he had to wait until the weekend to see a movie, and which nights he took a bath.
Parenting him felt like one big unpleasant game of tug-o-war. My heart was raw from the chafing. This blessed boy, who enjoyed so very many freedoms and pleasures in life was taking every little and big thing for granted.
My husband Guy and I had heart-to-heart talks with our son. We memorized Scripture together. And we remained consistent and patient in our responses, drawing on the Holy Spirit for self-control when we wanted to simply yell at him and lock him away until he shaped up. We weren’t perfect, but we put a lot of effort into handling this situation in “all the right ways.”
Our son still complained and his heart continued to swell with unsatisfied turmoil.
It was maddening but I didn’t want to get mad!
Instead of getting up in arms I needed to get down on my knees.
You see, fellow exasperated mom and dad, some battles are best fought in the Heavenlies. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus’ disciples are unable to cast out a demon from a young boy, and so the father presents his son to Jesus who does what his disciples could not do, freeing the son from his tormentor. This was the scene that followed:
“After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:28-29)
Sometimes, in my mothering, I have to come to a point where I keep the long view in mind and I yield my child’s behavior issues or inner battles to the Lord in devoted and concentrated prayer.
And then I keep doing the good parenting, despite his transformation or lack thereof. In these hard moments, I must remember that much of my parenting and training results in invisible seeds in my child’s heart instead of immediate changed behavior. And every time I speak loving truth to his heart about contentment, every time I offer him grace, every time he has to suffer the natural consequence of his own choices, those seeds are being watered by the Holy Spirit Who will do the work in His good timing, not mine.
God reminds us:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
My wonderful God-designed boy needs me to fight for him without succumbing to my own weaknesses. He needs me to not grow weary in doing good, this month, next month—as long as it takes. The harvest “at the proper time” is a promise from God but we must “not give up.”
If today you find yourself losing hope because you have been battling an issue with our son or daughter for so very long, lean into the strength of God. When we are weak, He is strong. Go to Him in prayer and keep doing good, as long as it takes. Ask the Lord to help you love your child in the same way He loves us as His children, though we fall short time and time again ourselves.
Each day, I’m rising with a prayer on my lips on behalf of my little boy. It’s a hopeful pleading for a satisfied heart, not just for my son, but also for me. It’s a two-fold sowing of seeds that God is using to make us both into something beautiful at just the right time.
I model contentment to my struggling boy by being satisfied in my own challenging moments as his mom. And that is a harvest of fruitfulness that we can both enjoy, without delay.