Intentionality is “Important!
Stephen Covey states: ” Begin with the end in mind.” This requires intentionality! In other words, fail to plan…plan to fail.
But, even with our best efforts in our intentionality, we need a deeper motivation because the “plug and play” method only applies to a piece of machinery! And, A multiplied by B in math equals AB, but children are not mathematical equations! When we rely solely on this methodology, disillusionment and despair are just around the corner.
With all my intentionality over 21 years of motherhood, A x B has not always equaled AB. I’ve seen everything from beautiful fruit that looks, smells and tastes delicious to the stench of rotten eggs that make me want to fumigate our home and drive to a hotel for the night!
So, if all my efforts will not guarantee me the results I desire…why bother? And that word, my friend, is where I want to go with this…the word “WHY.” We typically want to just know “HOW” to do something. The “HOW TO” may be effective with things like “behavior modification,” but if we are not driven by the “why,” we might simply give up, if we don’t see the hoped for results right away.
Intentionality begins with “I”
Second Corinthians 7:1, says this: ” Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” Notice the order. Paul tells us to focus on purifying ourselves, not others…and that means even before we attempt to purify our children!
If you are anything like me, you spend most of your parenting correcting, disciplining, chiding, appealing, coercing, even bribing your kids to behave! We are like a passenger on an airplane that, in case of emergency, spent so much time getting oxygen masks on all the kids first, that by the time we try to put ours on, we’re so dizzy from lack of oxygen that we pass out! Now, we have a real problem! The kids either have no mother to care for them or a severely weakened one at best! Everyone suffers because mom got the order backwards.
If I pray and ask God to purify and change me first, then that takes the pressure off my unstable teeter/totter toddlers and hormone-driven teenagers (equally unstable!) to satisfy my need for my formula that A x B must equal AB.
Let me back up a bit. Of course, we “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:18) for our children and we “make our requests known to God” (Psalm 5:3) but then we wait in expectation. It is in the waiting that we are squashed, shaped and simmered until we are solid in Christ.
This is, I believe, where we as mothers get the process backwards. At least I know I have! We desire so badly for our sons and daughters to not make the same mistakes we may have made growing up that we step in, take over, and try to do what is the job of the Holy Spirit. We are trying to fix them…and through my own experience, it never works! My job is to purify myself and let God purify my children.
I could tell you story after story of how when I “got out of the way and prayed” I saw miracles happen. You see, God will share His Glory with no one. If my “methods” all just worked, then I would get the glory. Pride is sure to follow and God will not tolerate pride. When I have focused on purifying myself, I actually become more of the mother my children respect and admire! We just are more attractive in general when we do not take it upon ourselves to purify everyone else, and that includes our own children!
So let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 7:1 and look at the second part which states, “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” Did you get this? This answers the “WHY” in my motherhood! If I only had children because they are cute, or because I need validation as a woman, or because I thought by having kids my marriage would hold together or because I need to feel loved by someone, then I most likely will not train them and raise them for God’s purposes because I need them for my purposes! Ouch! All I should do for them, to them and through them is out of my love and reverence for my God! What a revelation this has been for me personally in my journey of motherhood.
Regardless of how my son or daughter speaks to me, sasses me, becomes silent in the teen years towards me or even rebels against me to establish his/her own identity (which is intensely normal), it no longer needs to throw me into depression or even anger.
Let’s be honest! We are pining our hopes and dreams on a mere child! They really are just children! Can you imagine how you would feel if as an eight-year-old or even an eighteen-year-old your sole purpose in life was to make your mom happy!
That’s a tall order for a child who is filled with emotional highs and lows throughout the day and hormonal fluctuations from teenagers that keep them crying at the drop of a hat and laughing like crazy the next! Adding to the mix, because of social media, we now have as a constant companion, the “He like me…he likes me not” scenario.
Intentionality to the Great “I Am!”
The following are some practical ways to purify yourself first, then pray for our children second, out of reverence and honor to the Lord.
1. When you “change” their diapers: pray that God will change you!
2. When you “bathe” them: pray that God will bathe you in His love and forgiveness.
3. When you “play” with your child: pray that God will give you a child-like heart.
4. When you feed them: pray that God will satisfy you with the Bread of Life.
5. When you teach them to clean their room, put away their toys or laundry, and to organize their drawers: pray that God will bring order to your life.
6. When you require them to practice and study: pray that you will live a life as a student of God’s Word with all diligence.
7. When they are preparing for a career: pray that they will see you in a career that honors the Lord.
8. When they are preparing for marriage: pray that God will make you a faithful spouse, loyal, kind, and patient, and that you would be the kind of helpmate that they would want to model.
9. When they serve others: pray that God will fill you with the joy of serving, with a kind and generous heart.
Now you may be wondering, “Do we pray for our children?”
Absolutely and continually throughout the day!
I simply wanted to emphasize the importance of purifying ourselves before constantly correcting our children, THEN, teach them, train them and raise them and certainly pray for them, out of honor and reverence for God, leaving the results with God.
My husband has shared with me how when he was young and would get up for school, he would see that his dad was already up, praying on his knees, crying out to God for his family, naming each child before the Father. Brad never wanted to rebel against that kind of love.
The old saying is still true, “Christianity is still more caught than taught!”
Article Written by: Alyson Shedd