Words. They are not typically something that I lack. No, rather I was the child who was often in trouble for talking too much in class… with my name on the chalkboard… daily… with checkmarks behind it. It seems I have always been comfortable talking especially on a stage with an audience (you can see my calling as a preacher is quite obvious). Yet many times lately I have found myself at a loss of words with my children. Perhaps you feel it, too.
What are the words to express to my children God’s great love for them? How do I call out the Image of God that I see in them when my vocabulary to “explain” God is so small? Where are the right words to let them know what sin is and the very real danger it is to their lives? How do I point out the glory of God in creation when my life is too full of other things to even recognize the majesty around me? And how do I share with them truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I hold to dearly, but have become so rout in my life that I don’t even know how to explain it? How do we define what we believe without making God seem too small, far away, judgmental, too happy, and all the other things we worry about when we lack the words?
It’s similar to finding ways to admire your child’s achievements and skills without just saying “You’re so smart.” Or helping them learn to name their emotions when all I can come up with are “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” or “frustrated.”
I simply lack the words.
This past week, I began a new Bible Study with a friend on 2 Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, Paul talks of a struggle that he and his fellow travelers had endured – a struggle they thought they might not survive. Of this Paul writes “As a result, we realized that we could no longer rely on ourselves and that we must trust solely on God” (verse 9). As I recognize my lack, my inability to find the words to express the important things, I don’t have to rely on myself. God, our Father, makes up the lack… he is more than able. We can pray, trust, and rest… it’s all on Him. As we pray for the words and focus on Jesus, the Holy Spirit will teach, guide, counsel, and provide us with the words we lack.
Just this afternoon, my son didn’t want to hold his sister’s hand in the parking lot of Target as he had been told to (this is how I keep them together, near the car while I collect what I need to out of the car). Normally, this would be a control issue for me, but I was able to recognize what he was struggling with and to calmly point out to him that he could do what he wanted to do or he could do what God wanted him to do (obey his mom). He decided to do what he wanted. I told him that was fine (his disobedience wasn’t putting anyone in harm’s way so he could make his own choice) but I calmly reminded him that disobeying was a sin and sin keeps us from God. And that was the end of the conversation. I knew he had enough to chew on. I can’t force him to obey God, but I can help him see the choice to obey or not to while walking him through the consequence of that choice. Oh my, but that was a God-thing! It would have been easy to take his disobedience personally and demand he obey, but the sweet Holy Spirit was able to provide the words and knowledge I lacked and let the moment be a grace-filled teaching time rather than another mommy meltdown.
Praying for the right words and relying on the Holy Spirit are the primary ways we can “make up” for the lack. The Spirit has also been showing me some practical ways to work on my “lack of words” and I look forward to sharing that with you next week!
Parents, is there an area in your parenting where you are keenly aware of your “lack”? Be encouraged. As you pray for Jesus to make up for the lack, he will. His Spirit is our constant guide, teacher, and counselor. Let our lack remind us to “trust solely on God.”
Father, you are more acquainted with our “lack” than we are. You created us to rely on you. You created us to be parents that rely on you. Will you come and supply our lack? Provide the words to show our children the wonder of who you are. Provide the words to express your holiness and your compassionate grace. Spirit, fill us with more of you. Be our counselor, our teacher, our guide, and our ever-present help as we imperfectly parent these little people you have placed in our care. Help us point them to you that they may know, love, and follow you. And, Father, forgive us for the many times we don’t say the correct words… with the correct heart… with the correct tone. Forgive us, Father, and pour your grace and mercy upon us all. Amen.