I've spent the greatest part of my parenting career trying to find the balance between living a life of sacrifice for my family and living out my inner calling as a woman of God. I've consistently wrestled with that fact that I couldn't be both. I either throw my hair into a ponytail, deny myself in the areas of beautification and hygiene (sorry honey for the seasons of unshaved legs), and become Betty-Crocker-meets-Martha-Stewart-meets-full-time-NFL-referee. Then there's the other extreme of throwing my kids in the nearest mother's day program in every church I can find and spend my days at the gym and at the coffee shop writing and pouring into other women in some ministry-fashion or another. I feel like many of us parents live this same struggle. How do we passionately pursue God's will for our lives in ministry/career and still have enough worth to pour into our families? How do we prioritize ourselves AND our family at the same time? Is that even possible?! Sometimes you have to wonder, after the exhaustion settles in and you feel as if you'll never figure out how to move out of this foggy haze of parenting funk, WHAT THE HECK IS GOD'S WILL for my life?!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always, pray continuously, give thanks in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. For THIS is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Well, now, don't we all feel a little silly. I know I did when I read this verse this morning. I heard him LOUD and CLEAR, and I really hope that you will let this scripture really get ahold of you in the area of God's will for you as a parent. Here's how it spoke to me:
As a parent, it is God's will that you BE JOYFUL.
Sometimes I have to stop and ask God, do you really want me to be joyful about poopy diapers, a dog that just tracked a gallon of mud through my carpets, and a bathroom dirty enough to rival a local truckstop? Really God, sometimes, the things we deal with as parents is enough to make me want to hurl my morning expresso, nevermind get overjoyed over! How in the world am I to dismiss the messes of life and sometimes the harsh realities of painful experiences and be joyful? Well, friends, I'm learning that we can't. There is no way that we can muster up this kind of joyfulness in our own strength. Without God's constant nudging and reminders about what is important, we cannot see the forest for the trees. The only way to experience and fulfill the call to BE JOYFUL is by acting upon the second will that he has for us. Pray it into existence. It's not coincidence that these go hand-in-hand.
As a parent, it is God's will that you PRAY CONTINUOUSLY.
If you are not in the habit already, pray, friend, PRAY. Learn how to see God as your best friend that you can call up and vent about the days happenings to. He would MUCH rather you tell him how you are feeling than to tell all your friends on Facebook. He longs to be that listening ear, the one you confide in, and the one you plead to for advice and help in all things "parenting". He has a little experience at this parenting gig, remember? Ask him for what you need; patience, JOY, wisdom, endurance, patience, love, a nap, a potty break in private, patience. . .did I mention patience? Maybe that one's just me. Let every second of every day be a phone conversation with God that never get's disconnected.
As a parent, it is God's will that you GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS.
Yes, give thanks when you're in carpool. Give thanks for the McDonald's dinner that you rushed through to get to the next soccer practice. Give thanks when you're child is throwing a gremlin-sized tantrum in Toys R Us. . .eh, that may be stretching it. Or is it possible that someone wishes that their child was still throwing a gremlin-sized tantrum in Toys R Us, but is instead laying in a hospital bed awaiting the next round of chemo. . .GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS because it could always be worse. If we removed all the frustrations of parenting and only got the good moments, would we take it all for granted? Sometimes it's the woes of parenthood that give us the perspective to see the joys. And now we're back at square one. . .being joyful always. God is so crafty.
Let's not wrestle any longer with the age-old question of What Is God's Will For Me, when he has so clearly spelled it out for us. Thank you, Lord for answering our most basic prayers.
Have you struggled with this question in your life? Which portion of His will is the most difficult for you?