When We're Not Ready
From the moment the plus sign appears on that little stick, you know you'll be forever changed. For nine months, you busy about, trying to be ready. You assemble a registry and a crib, wash tiny outfits with tiny socks, stack little diapers in pretty little bins.
You won't be ready. Not for this.
You can't know how deeply you will love this sweet little soul. Neither can you anticipate how that baby will push you past the limits of what you thought you could handle.
You adore every inch of your little bundle, and still, it's a difficult adjustment. As babies, the demands are almost constant. You lose freedom and sleep. And then they get older and you get to know them and it's amazing. But they call your name five hundred times a day and ask thousands of questions and leave their Legos where you will step on them.
Then the selfishness creeps up inside of you, and it's ugly. When it spills out - maybe you become depressed, withdrawn, angry, or even bitter - you think, "What happened to me?"
What happened is you weren't used to putting someone else's needs before your own all the time. You got used to eating meals when they were hot or sleeping at night or having a clean house, and this little one, unaware that you had your kingdom just so, barged in and rearranged it.
And when the sin you didn't know was there surfaces, you begin to wonder why in the world God gave you children while you were still so degenerate.
But, as Carolyn Mahaney observes, God "doesn’t give us children when we are old and wise and mature, but when we are young and ignorant and need to grow. In other words, he gives us children in the middle of the sanctification process; and our children, in turn, become a significant means of producing growth in our lives."
God gives us kids when we aren't ready for them. I think He knows we will never be selfless enough to be parents, so He uses parenthood to make us selfless.
Unfortunately, this process can be painful for both parent and child. Sometimes we hurt our sweet ones, and almost every day we sin against them. It wouldn't be this way in a perfect world. But this isn't a perfect world. It's a broken, fallen one.
How then do we parent in our sinfulness? How do we train our children in godliness when we are so far off from it ourselves?
The truth is, our children need to be told about the gospel, but they also need to see its beauty displayed in us. What better way for our children to see the glory of God's grace than to see us needing it, being changed by it, and pouring it out on them?
Our children don't need perfect parents. They need parents willing to repent, that will call them to repentance. They need to see grace at work in us. They need someone to pray that it will work in them.
The good news is that even when we aren't ready for parenthood, God is always ready redeem our meager efforts and failures for his glory. Thanks be to God.