My husband and I recently purchased Paul Tripp’s book, What Did You Expect?? (Redeeming the Realities of Marriage) for a small group study.
Well, I’ll tell you one thing. I did not expect it to speak to me about parenting.
But God, in His kindness, has been using this book to remind me of eternal truths and rub the glaze off my foggy, sticky-fingered mommy glasses so I can see.
Within the pages of the first chapter, God was gently teaching me more about parenting than about marriage, probably because I am struggling daily with being a mom, more so than with being a wife. (Just ask the one who pees on the floor.)
In fact, you could substitute the word “parenting” for every instance of the word “marriage” and receive a hearty lesson on the realities of raising kids.
Tripp speaks to my bafflement at how very hard parenting is, but reminds me of God’s infinite lovingkindness in crafting my daily circumstances. Check this out (I have substituted “marriage” with “parenting” to complete the message I am getting here):
We all face the same thing. Our parenting lives in the middle of a world that does not function as God intended. Somehow, someway, your parenting is touched every day by the brokenness of our world. … There is one thing for sure: you will not escape the environment in which God has chosen you to live. It is not an accident that you are conducting your parenting in this broken world. It is not an accident that you have to deal with the things you do. None of this is chance, fate or luck. It is all part of God’s redemptive plan. … Even though you face things that make no sense to you, there is meaning and purpose to everything you face. I am persuaded that understanding your fallen world and God’s purpose for keeping you in it is foundational…” (pg. 21)
Man, I mean, I feel a little like a dumb ox. Shouldn’t I get this by now? “Parenting is not easy! Hello?!” But so many days, I find shock and anger welling up inside me as I come to terms with the circumstances I am facing. “Things that makes no sense,” like pee on my guest bed, or the inability to take a peaceful bathroom break. Like facing so many interruptions to making lunch, that I may as well be trying to climb Mount Everest instead of make three sandwiches. Like mysteries involving what to do with poop-streaked Bob the Builder undies, which leave me so disoriented I sit on the side of the tub holding them for five minutes before my four-year-old comes looking for me.
(The pee and poop in places other than the toilet did not come from me, for the record. I can hear you jokers out there.)
So anyway, it’s brought refreshment to my soul to recall that:
- there is a greater purpose to what I am doing.
- God is sovereignly ordaining my circumstances to complete His good work in me.
- To be made low is to be made great in the Kingdom of God.
(This third one wasn’t in the book. But I remembered that truth the other day when kneeling next to the toilet, dunking poopy undies in and out of the water. It was like, in that instant, this tight ball of inexpressible emotion was rolling around inside my chest. I fought back tears. I guess I mourned for what I thought parenting would be like, for these dreams of happy children and happy mommy and daddy dancing carefree through the day. I mourned dignity. I was also pretty grossed out by sticking my hands down into the realm of What Lies Below the Rim. I mean, once you break the plane… <shudders> … ANYWAY in the middle of all that messiness, the Holy Spirit reminded me that to serve these children isn’t glamorous and it’s sometimes denigrating, but in God’s kingdom, true greatness is granted to the ones who humble themselves.)
Jesus sees it all, and that gives me encouragement. He ordains my steps, and that gives me reason to go on. He has declared that there is great purpose in what I am doing, and that helps me see past the drudgery.