I remember an article I saw awhile back about a man in California who had created a lucrative business by spray painting dead lawns of foreclosed homes that had lingered on the market and would not sell. A few blasts of emerald-green biodegradable color and the curb appeal was instantly enhanced by a golf course worthy sea of grass.
Of course, it was all an illusion since the grass was completely dead from neglect. The most surprising thing about the new look was the increase in sales of these houses. Although the new buyers understood that they would have to replace the lawn at a significant cost once the spray degraded, they could envision the potential. Houses that had been on the market for months sold quickly. The lawn was still dead, the cost, labor, and preparation was the same as before, yet once the buyer could see the finished product, they counted it worth the price.
I think this is true of parenting. We need to be able to understand our children’s potential to truly invest. Because investing, planting seed, watering and nurturing, is hard work. We may have an understanding that it is only God who cultivates, grows, and brings in the harvest, but we often lose sight of our integral role in the process. Our investment of our lives. Our sacrifice spent in battle.
We all love our children but it’s so easy to passively parent. To parent without any vision. We can be fooled into thinking that the moments that drip off the clock in mundane circles are somehow irrelevant.
I remember being a mom with little ones, wandering around in a bleary eyed stupor from all the sleepless nights. When they are tiny you’re primarily parenting their basic needs. You spoon organic peas into their faces, you wipe up spit up, sing lullabies, and change poopy diapers. You dream of sleeping through the night, wearing a shirt without some bodily fluid on it, or eating a meal while it’s still hot.
As they grow, parenting gets less physically exhausting but the emotional demands increase. They have opinions, all of their own! They have questions and needs. They have personalities that may clash with yours. They develop their own interests and habits. They begin to be separate people, no longer physically dependent on you, yet still wholly in need of direction.
We can struggle just to make it through our busy days let alone trying to have a vision.
But we are never neutral beings. There is always a battle. Only some are worth fighting. The ordinary stuff of this life is where our most important battle is so often fought for us moms.
I may seem like I am flip-flopping between my last post and this one. That first I say, “Relax, pick your battles,” and now I am saying, “Rise up, don’t be passive, for we are in a battle,” and you’re right. I am saying both.
The battle we are in isn’t about outward behavior or appearances as I have said. Hopefully we can see where that gets us. A sparkling cup filled with wickedness, or a green lawn with withered dead roots.
Yet, to truly believe the gospel we would almost appear to be lawless. To truly believe that all of our righteousness has been accounted to us by Jesus’s blood and that our behavior or our children’s makes no additions to His grace seems like it would lead to reckless abandon of morality. Why do we need to be good if it doesn’t make any difference? But the more I am beginning to really grasp God’s grace, the more the opposite is true.
We battle for holiness in our lives because of His unfailing grace and mercy. We battle for righteousness because our desire to be like Him. We battle for mercy and forgiveness because of His reckless love for us. We battle for justice because we know God’s heart for His people. We battle in prayer and in the word because we know how easily we are enticed by our flesh and we know that only He offers what will feed us.
We battle for vision because our children are fair game to the enemy who would gladly devour their lives with idolatry and hypocrisy. Blinding them to the truth of who God is, either by virtue or by folly. This is a battle worth fighting.
What is your vision for your kids? How is your relationship with God shaping that vision? What things or practices have you found that help you battle for your children? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.