Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rest for the Soul

As I talked about on my last post, I took a class that recently ended called "Renovation of the Heart." It has a tremendous impact on me and is continuing to have an impact on my as I attempt to continue walking in the spiritual disciplines that I developed through the class. The last couple weeks of the class ended up being very, very busy for me, so I have taken the couple weeks since it ended to slowly go through the last 3 chapters. One of the exercises that I went back and did from chapter 11 in the book had really impacted me the last couple weeks. I didn't really think it impacted me so much at the time I did it; I undertook the exercise b/c I wanted to be faithful to finish the class strong and not skimp out on the end of it. I have realized over the last couple weeks that it did impact my thinking.

I was to have Psalm 23 read out loud to me once through, then read again slowly pausing between each verse. ( I read it to myself). The I was to ask the Lord these two questions: 1)What needed to happen for my soul to be restored? 2) What is the first thing I need to do to find rest in you? I sat for quite a while asking and trying to be quiet and listen for the answers. Quite honestly, I was also dozing off a bit b/c I was really tired that day. I felt very impressed that the area of my life that I did not have rest in my soul was my children. I feel pretty much at peace, trusting and restful in most other areas of my life. I was not at rest in regard to my children. My lack of rest is a little different than one might think.

I trust the Lord with my children, or so I think. I do not trust myself, though, with my children. I feel like I have made so many mistakes raising them. I feel like I will realize later that I have continued to make mistakes with them. I try to do right by them. I try to make wise decision in regard to them, but, if I am being brutally honest, I feel like a failure in the area of parenting so much of the time. I didn't have much a role model growing up, and my role models when I started having children were extremely imbalanced. I am old enough to have seen the kids of the church I attended when I first met the Lord and had Ally grow to adults. There was a lot of hurt and mess they all had to work through due to the disciplinary measures and environments they grew up in. So I have tried to strike a balance between the uber discipline of that system and the lack of discipline I grew up in. I sure don't have it figured out and I am so grateful for God's grace and mercy. I have tried to be honest with my children about my weaknesses and struggles. I have tried to keep open communication and not be so dogmatic about what I thought that they wouldn't feel like they could talk to me. I try to apologize when I am wrong and take responsibility. I try to see things from their perspective and not see "different" as "wrong". I never wanted to be one of those moms who put down the kids music and acted like the music from my childhood was so much better. I try to remember how frustrating it was when my parents hated my music, so I listen to their music with them and find that I actually end up like a lot of it. I try not to get overly wrapped up in how they dress, what they do to their hair, etc; I try to encourage the dreams or interests they have and not force my expectations or dreams for their lives on them. I have tried to do the best I can...

But I know that I am not always easy to deal with. I can be irritable. I put way too much pressure on poor Alexandra when she was younger. I have drug them from church to church and only in the last year have put down roots. I have not raised them in an environment to really learn what the Word of God says or how to walk with Jesus. We don't eat dinner as a family and never have. We don't pray together like we should or read the bible as a family. They watched me struggle and lose the battle with alcohol for quite a while. They have grown up in an environment where we have struggled with money their whole lives. Things could definitely be worse, but they haven't gotten to travel or go on vacations. They don't get a lot of extra stuff. They have had to wear worn out clothes or what ever we were given. All this material stuff may sound silly to most, but I just always wanted them to be able to do more than I was able to do. I wanted them to see other parts of the world. I wanted them to be able to do sports, or art, or dance, or whatever. We just have not really been able to do that very much. I was always so busy when they were babies. I didn't learn how to play as a child, so I wasn't very good at just sitting down to play games with them or pretend. I didn't do crafts and fun stuff. Sometimes I wish that I could have them as children now b/c I didn't really appreciate the time I had with them. I wasn't good at being silly with them.

Anyway, enough of that. The point is... I am very aware of the mistakes that I have made. I know that no one is perfect, but I don't really feel like I did as good of a job as I could have. Not that it is all over. I still have years to invest, love and impact them. I just feel like some of the more formative years could have been better. So, I have really struggled with fear that I have messed up my children. I have been afraid that I have damaged them and that they will have a harder life b/c of me or maybe even not serve God b/c of me. Like I said, I trust God, but I have not trusted myself. I have felt like maybe someone else could have done better or maybe I could have done a better job if I had started later in life. What God showed me is that the root of not trusting myself really boils down to not trusting Him.

He gently, over the weeks after asking Him to show me what needed to happen for me to find "soul rest" in Him in regard to my children, started to peel back layers and give me a realistic picture of the truth. I have peace in my life over every thing that happened to me growing up and all the pain. I am at peace with that fact that His grace has carried me throughout my entire life. He knew everything that would happen and how I would react to it and the outcome of it all. He knew when I would walk into that church where I accepted Him as my Creator and Savior. He prepared my heart so that the words of David Fees would penetrate my heart and bring me to my knees. He opened my heart and eyes to set me on the path of the Kingdom. He even chose my parents to be who they are knowing how broken and incapable they were.....

Now, if that is the case for me. If He loves me and His grace carried me and brought me to exactly the place to have my whole world turned upside down and put me on the path of serving Him. Then the same is the case for each of my children. He loves them more than I will ever be able to comprehend. He chose me as their mother. He chose the timing that each of them would be conceived and born. He chose Ally's genetic father. He chose Larry as Stephens father and chose the timing that he would be conceived. He chose Larry to be Ally's father and ordained that they would love each other beyond any genetic differences. God chose me to be mother to each of the three, Ally, Stephen, and Chloe knowing every struggle I have, knowing every mistake I would make raising them, and knowing the outcome of it all. Nothing I have done has been a surprise to Him or thrown a kink into His plan for them. A friend wisely said to me, "Do you think you are powerful enough to mess up God's plan?" Even after that I still struggled with really resting in God's grace for me and my children. But, when God broke it down so intricately, I finally got it. He chose me, knowing how hard it would be for me to raise them and how many mistakes I would make and He actually wove into the fabric of each of their lives and His plan for them all of those variables. It all comes together for good. It all works out. Just as my temperament and environment would shape me into exactly what would balance my husband and how his temperament and environment would shape him to bring about one beautiful union and person out of two.

I have found soul rest. I pray for my children every day and ask God to be merciful and call them to himself. I ask him to set into motion those things that need to be to bring them to where he wants them to be and to do whatever it takes to bring about the most eternal significance and the most authentic and sincere relationship possible. I trust Him to bring that to pass. Salvation belongs to the Lord. I cannot save my children; I cannot make them serve God. I cannot control or protect them enough to guarantee they will have not pain or turn their hearts to God. We all need God's grace and mercy to come to know Him and all we can call upon in regard to our children is His grace and mercy. They will only serve Him if He opens their hearts to serve Him. We can plant seeds, put the kindling around their hearts and model the kingdom, but only God can light the fire. I will continue to seek to be faithful to my children, pray for my children and love them, but I won't fret and worry anymore, b/c He knows all and took all into account.

Below is a really neat scene from a movie I saw a while back that I think illustrates so beautifully how God can set into motion a chain of events that will place us where we need to be when we need to be there.

Stop the Flow

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