When driving from Point A to Point B, you expect everyone to follow the rules of the road so you can all maneuver well. In spite of flashing lights, closed roads, and even gravel doing a number on your windshield, you have a destination in mind. And news flash: it is not the same as the person in the sweet van to your right. You know this. Basic as it is, this principle of staying in your own lane goes from easy on the roads to near impossible when navigating the obstacle course that is parenting.
When you talk to friends or observe choices other families are making, do you question your own? Do you assume the path they are traveling is somehow “better” than yours? Could it be you are struggling with discontent or maybe even envy when you do this? Or perhaps, on the flip side, you have found yourself entangled in the sin of pride—pride that you are financially better off or providing for your children in ways others cannot? Whatever the case may be, be careful of comparison quicksand. Do not get stuck passing on lessons of envy or pride to your children that you did not truly hope to impart. Lessons are often passed from generation to generation, and if you are not careful, you will watch as comparison affects not only your children, but your grandchildren and their children after them.
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver. He who watches his way preserves his life. Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling (Proverbs 16:9, 16-18).
While observing others to gain wisdom is certainly of value, and relationships which provide this are of merit, watching and then feeling the need to keep up with the ever elusive “Joneses” is a rocky road that leads nowhere. If you are not certain where you are wanting your family to go, or if you feel completely lost in your parenting objectives, it is probably time to get off the road, pull out the map, and get back in your lane before plowing into someone else’s and hurting everyone in the process. While you are pulled over to collect your bearings, pray for clear guidance and write out your mission. What does God desire for your family, and what can you do to maintain focus on His plan? Once you know your mission, frame it, hang it, and never forget it.
God has a plan for your family that is filled with adventures galore. Your adventures may not be vacation homes, black tie balls, or breakfast with a mouse in some faraway land. Your adventures may be scavenger hunts, fishing by the lake, or camping in your yard while counting the stars. Maybe your kid is not headed to some Ivy League university after tossing his cap—heck, maybe he isn’t headed to any university at all! And guess what? It’s okay! Do you know why? Because your treasure—and your child’s—is not here. And your mission as a parent is not to create kids who want for nothing, but kids who want everything Jesus offers.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Those things parents tend to wrap themselves up in (hello, school lottery system!) are completely temporal. In “wanting the best”, we have replaced God’s best with our version—which is utter foolishness. So what if your kids can speak Mandarin and play an instrument (or ten)—where is that going to get them when the real graduation happens and they go from this life to the next? Parents: remember the destination, in spite of the detours! There are a lot of moments along the way that will not look like what you expect. But you have a road map perfectly suited for your family. The Word of God is living and active, and God promises to provide a light unto your path. When you wonder where you should travel, make sure you are traveling where He wants to take you, and all will be well with your family!
From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Proverbs 119:104-105)
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and one gentle, joy-filled, little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city. She loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.