Parenting: It All Matters

This parenting work is hard.

Falling into bed each night, exhausted. Living into a long string of ordinary days, without the sense of accomplishment we experience during the hoopla of successful potty training, the exhilaration of an independently-tied shoe, the grand celebration of a graduation.

Instead, we spend our days wiping small faces, feeding hungry bellies, drying tears, reading books, administering time-outs. And we hope it will somehow matter. We hope that something about the consistency of it, something about the selfless nature of it, will sink into our kids and they will listen deeply to the words we say and follow the teaching we offer. We hope that it will take root and foster the development that is needed for them to grow and learn and become the people they were meant to be. 

We hope. We pray. But we don’t know.

Because faith is like that. Parenting our children has so much to do with how we believe that this work becomes sacred in ways we can scarcely see. Even as adults, we work out our faith, nurture it, all the while wondering if we are doing it right, if we are faithful enough, if we trust well. So we do what we must and we try. 

We hope. We pray. But sometimes we don’t know. 

We just don’t know how loved we are or how saved we are or how complete we are made when He meets us right where we sit today. We just don’t know how God will take the simple act of wiping a toddler’s face and transform it into a message that sinks deep into her heart, teaching her that someone is taking care of the mess she makes. 

We just don’t always see how placing our hands around the clasped fingers of our little ones and bowing our heads to talk to God will feed the flame of faith within. We cannot see what He is doing. But He does it just the same. He transforms our ordinary into something miraculous and the kitchen floor upon which we stand, complete with crumbs and splattered juice, becomes beautiful, holy ground. 

It is hard to be faithful when we see so little. Our myopic view shows only a shadow, fuzzy and unclear. Until… until we see a teenager throw his long, lanky limbs over the cushions on a couch and, dog-eared Bible in tow, close his eyes to talk to the One we have prayed he would know. Then, we see. We see that all of it mattered and it was always in process and even in our doubting, God was there, using what we offered on those ordinary days. And if in trust, we squint our eyes, perhaps we can catch a vision for what is coming, what they are learning, what God is doing in the midst of the mundane moments of life. 

And while we may not know, we trust. We trust the truth of Philippians 1:6 that, "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

So we hope and we pray. And in fostering this habit, we are drawn closer to our Father. We find that taking small steps to be faithful, in our parenting, in our living, has mattered all along. We trust that:

  • In care-taking, we taught love.
  • In discipline, we taught justice.
  • In serving, we showed humility.
  • In sharing, we taught compassion.
  • In teaching, we instilled discipline.

All of it flowing forth from the simple parenting tasks and acts that happen from day to day.

And all of it transformed.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at

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