A few weeks ago, I was praying about parenting. I was especially frustrated that day, because it felt as though I repeat myself to my children over and over again, every single day, and I don’t really see much progress.
I was so fed up, I said to God, with much passion and annoyance, “WHEN will Anika listen to me???! Why can’t she learn to obey me??”
And God said, deep in my heart, “When will YOU learn to obey me? What keeps YOU from listening to ME?”
I thought about that for a bit, and finally realized: It’s my heart that keeps me from obeying God. I know what I need to do, but I do not have the strength to follow through. My heart needs to change in order for me to obey Him.
I was sharing this experience with Anika last night, and as I tried to explain it, the verses from Romans came to mind:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it….What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:15-20, 25)
Jesus rescues me. Jesus teaches me how to obey, and transforms me inside so that I start to do the good I truly want to do.
Trying to explain that to Anika in a way she could easily understand made me want to weep with relief, as I was reminded all over again that I am saved from this mess, and I do not need to do it on my own. “Thanks be to God…!”
Trying to force my children to obey me has not been working very well. I can get as annoyed and frustrated and angry as I want, but disobedience is only a symptom of the true problem – I need to keep praying for their hearts. I need to keep remembering that it is Christ who gives us and our children the strength to do what He wants us to do!
How can I be impatient with my girls, when I turn around, and there is God, waiting to teach me the very thing my children need to learn, as well?
So, Anika and I decided to try all over again the next day. We prayed about it, and we thanked God for second chances and fresh starts, and we will keep going for the heart.