My heart feels like it is crumbling, and my eyes can barely keep the tears from tumbling down my cheeks. Why, you ask? Well, my little guys started preschool today—both of them! The school is affectionately called Sonshine and takes place at a wonderful church close to our home. Two days a week, my sons will be in the care of others, growing in relationships with little lads and ladies their age. These are good things—wonderful life skills being learned, memories in the making. So, why is my heart hurting?
As I got in the car after dropping off our gentle three-year-old and determined one-and-a-half-year-old, I pictured the future—a future so many of you have faced or are about to face. I know I am several years away from feeling the full weight of the empty nest, but pondering the present reminds me those days are not actually very far away. The days are long and the years are short, as they say. On this day, I am picturing the future, wondering what will fill the silence in this space. What I know to be true is God has ordained all our days, as parents and as children. He wants us to trust Him with our children’s moments and give them the freedom to grow. We are to help guide, nurture, and provide—but they, like their parents, are unique individuals who need to flourish in discovering and honing their gifts.
There is a fine line between being a helicopter parent and a protective parent, and we must work to find and maintain the right balance. But how do we find that balance? First and foremost, we need to draw near to God and give Him the power over our time and our children. We need to steward our moments well so we can better care for the children He has entrusted to us. Parents, do not feel guilty for creating time in your schedule to focus on your own personal development. I know many parents who are so focused on their children’s futures they have lost sight of their own. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. So, as my children are drawing, singing, and playing a few miles down the road, I am grateful the Lord is faithfully encouraging and reminding me that this is a choice for the betterment of our family. I do not want to waste this precious time, and I have established some broad yet focused goals.
My goals, while my children are away, are to find ways to make our house feel even more like a home. A home is the place where you run to and feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. When my children (and others) walk through the door, I want them to be carefree and happy here. A house is not more like a home because of some Pinterest or painting project (though I love both!), but a house is more like a home when the people living there are authentic and filled with joy by being who God has destined them to be. In this home, I want people to find a woman who is more on fire for the Lord because she made the time to be with Him and in His Word without interruption. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks, and I want my mouth to pour out blessing, joy, and waves of encouragement so powerful they completely wash away anything that is not of God. In this home, I want my family (and others) to find a woman who knows Whose she is, continuing to use the gifts she has been given. In this home, I want God to be magnified in every way. I want this house to be His house and His home.
Just like our children, parents are all wonderfully different. Some moms and dads are excited to send their kids off to school and have a much easier time letting go, while others are more sentimental and struggle with cutting the cord. At the end of the day, God in His sovereignty made us all parents, and while unique in our situations and responses, we have the same need for connection with our life-line, Jesus. It is far too easy to get wrapped up in seasons of parenting and lose ourselves in the process. While our children are our most important work, they are not the only work. We cannot allow time to control us and make every moment all about them—or our work, status updates, sports, etc. We must be firmly planted and give the Lord control of our time so that our days will be about growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. When we use our time well and take care of ourselves, we can and will take better care of our children.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:3).
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