My worst fear had been realized. When I heard his feet hit the floor and his bedroom door open, I knew I didn’t have time to move or hide. I was caught.
“Hey!” he said. “What are you doing?”
“I’m just looking for something I dropped earlier,” I whispered (and lied).
He was practically sleep-walking so didn’t question, but stepped over me to the bathroom. I quickly stood up and walked back to my room. The next morning, Brett teased me for crawling around in the dark and I acted like I had no idea what he was talking about. He had no idea, though, that kneeling in front of his bedroom, and that of his brother’s and sister’s, was something I did practically every single night before I fell asleep.
The power we have as moms and dads to pray for the lives of our children is ineffable – too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.
The bedtime routine when my three were in the height of their growing up years might be described as ridiculous. My baby is ten years younger than my oldest, so she would always be put to bed first. We’d read a handful of books together, pray about whatever was on her mind, snuggle a bit and then say goodnight. Of course, I’d usually end up bringing Marina more water when asked and sometimes I’d have to reassure her that I was in my room and not back downstairs if she was feeling afraid.
A half hour to an hour later, it would be time to tuck in our middle. Collin loved to read with me too and share prayer requests about his concerns or praises for school, sports or friends. Often, I’d climb into his top bunk and we’d talk for a while after hitting the lights. Lastly, I’d shake out his three blankets and cover him just so – first the hunter and cream one, then the gray and lastly the moss green comforter.
Brett was in high school during this time period and tended to be up later than we wanted, doing homework and messaging with friends. Right as we were getting into bed though, he’d come in to say goodnight and ask me if I had a couple minutes. Those two minutes often turned into ten or fifteen as I scratched his back and he’d tell me about his day. Physical touch since day one has been his love language.
That nightly routine would usually start around seven p.m. each night and end around ten-thirty when all three were finally asleep. Many hours per week spent, that looking back now – I wouldn’t change for the world.
There’s no home project, no television series, no novel, no social media scrolling, no eating or drinking that can ever trump the bedtime bonding and connection time with our children.
Two of ours are adults now, living and thriving in different states and one we’ll be launching in a few short years. No, I wouldn’t switch those hours spent for anything at all.
We have only a limited number of years to fill our kids tanks. If they leave the nest when they’re on “Full,” they’re much more capable of making positive contributions in the world and to fill other’s tanks, including our own. If they leave half empty, they may spend their adult years lost and searching, wondering if they’ll ever feel like a whole person.
Once Craig and I had finally gotten into bed in those days, and we’d had time to talk and be together as we craved … and then closed our eyes for the night, he’d inevitably fall asleep before me. That’s when I’d sneak out from under the covers and tip-toe softly down our long, creaky hallway.
I’d kneel in front of the kids doors one by one and pour out my soul to God. As much as we adore our children, I knew that our intentions and care for them was such a tiny speck and immeasurably limited compared to the perfectly brilliant, restorative, supernatural LOVE of their heavenly Father.
I realized early on that as hard as I tried each day I would always, always, ALWAYS fall short. That to raise my children into the kind of adults I hoped and dreamed they’d be, I had to commit them to the only one who knew them and loved them better than we ever could. God entrusted them to us and we had to be intentional everyday about dedicated and surrendering our lives, and theirs, back to Him.
In Purposeful Parenting by Jean S. Barnes, she writes: “Whether you’re on your own or surrounded by support, God meant for you to begin life, and parenting, with him by your side. He is your father and you are his child (2 Corinthians 6:16,18). He is the center of your family system, whatever that may be. Just as the wheel needs a hub upon which its spokes are fixed to roll, God is there in the middle of everything: the mess, the miracles, and the everyday matters. Whatever spokes of support you have, one parent or two or a village, God promises to stay and keep you going. That means you can call on him for whatever you face, whatever family system you’ve come from or find yourself in right now, because he will fill you with can-do power, the strength you need when you’re weary, and the strength he’ll exercise for you when you can’t seem to summon it on your own (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 and 13:9). He’s not just talking about strength to soldier on, either, but to soar (Isaiah 40:29-31). That is his promise to you, his assurance so you can live and parent well.”
We can’t parent well without our God and creator by our side. When we acknowledge his sovereignty and lordship and pray to him with all our cares and worries, we get to be participants in the miraculous, wondrous plans he has put in motion for our own lives and for the lives of our kids.
Parents that are still in the trenches and parents at all stages of life – be intentional, pray big and love hard.
Maybe you can’t summon the energy to be light-hearted today, but God will give you joy if you ask. Maybe you can’t imagine that your child will ever emerge from the difficult stage they’re going through, but God will give you the peace and patience you need to watch their struggle, knowing they’ll be better for it on the other side.
Maybe you, like me, feel completely in the dark at times about how to be the best parent you’re capable of being, but God can and will give you wisdom every day. Drop to your knees wherever you are – let him light the way so you can soar.
Philippians 4 : 6 - 8