I was watching my littles play together today.
I have so many hopes and dreams for them.
I want them to know love and I want them to succeed.
I want them to be kind and gracious and I want them to love others well.
I want them to someday be parents and know the joy of children and I want them to be givers - of their money, of their time, and of their talents.
Those are but a few. Some may come to be. Others may not.
After all, those are my dreams for them. Not theirs.
My husband and I get to spend just the first quarter of our children's lives with them. Teaching them and helping them and then they'll spend the rest of their lives away from us. Living their stories and fulfilling their dreams and that one quarter will, so I've been told, be gone in a flash if I so much as blink.
So what do I want my children to know? What do I want them to carry away from their days with me?
Is it how to dress properly?
It is how to behave when we go to someone's house for dinner?
Is it the importance of good grades?
Is it to keep their rooms clean?
It matters what they wear and it matters how they act at dinner and how they talk to their parents and teachers and that they know how to pick up after themselves.
I want them to be respectful of others and hold jobs and thrive in society.
But, do you know what really matters to me?
I am often tempted to squeeze their little souls into a mold of What Makes Me Look Good and What Makes My Life Easy Now and to base my mothering on all of the external praises that sound like, "What well-behaved and well-dressed and well-mannered children she has." Boy, does that feel good for a moment. It feels even better when I get to retell it to a friend later.
But, that kind of mothering always sends me (and them) on a hampster wheel - striving for some fictitious idea of behavioral perfection that neither I nor they could ever achieve.
But, because of God's great grace in my life and heart, I have learned this:
I am not trying to raise perfect children. I am trying to raise adults who run to God.
You see, they are so little and it is so easy to focus on the now - when spilled Cheerios and temper tantrums and the disapproving looks of strangers are what seem so important.
But, ultimately, they will grow up. They won't be spilling Cheerios or throwing temper tantrums or pulling the batteries off of the rungs in the Target checkout line. (Hopefully.)
But, when my children leave our home, I want them to know that God cares about EVERY. SINGLE. THING. going on in their hearts. That He cares deeply about their hurts and successes and hopes and broken dreams and broken hearts and that they can RUN TO HIM with all of that and know that His arms are open wide.
Always. Always open.
They need to see that modeled in me, in my husband, in our everyday life, now and while they're little, as we struggle and forgive and love and mess up. If we're not teaching them to run to God, then manners and politeness and grades and what they wore to church simply do not matter if they walk out the door of our home and don't know that God will carry them through any trial. That He will celebrate every victory.
That He feels their every loss and heartache and will be there for them -just like He was when they were little. Just like He was for Mom and Dad and just like He will be for the friends they meet who don't know Him and if God wills, for their children.
These precious littles are growing into adults who will lead different lives and face different struggles and hardships and circumstances that are as different as they are. And they get but one childhood with us and we can focus on all the wrong things, or we can help imprint the truth of who God is on their hearts and they can carry that with them - for every day of their entire lives.
What do I want my children to know?
That today as children and tomorrow as adults, in every trial, every success, every failure, every heartache, every hurt...
Wherever life takes them.
They can run to God.