We need to sign a pact. We need to promise that we will not give up.
Today as parents, we need to sit down face to face and make a solemn promise about the work that is ahead.
Maybe you are reading this with a baby in your arms, or maybe you feel tossed in the chaos of living with teens. But no matter where you are, no matter how old your baby has become, no matter what, we need to find this time to agree. And to swear. And to sign on the dotted line.
We need to tell one another that when parenting is too hard, we are going to sit back down and listen well and help each other and make one another keep going because nothing could matter more.
Some of us are weary already. We have children with special needs, kids who struggle academically, little ones who tantrum and big ones who do too. Some of us feel like the work we are doing does nothing. We feel like no one listens to our words, no one learns from our discipline. We feel like our efforts to give leave us depleted day after day. We are tired. Worn out. Giving up seems like the easiest thing, the only thing, left to try.
Some of us have not had a full night’s sleep in years. We have changed too many diapers and done too much laundry and answered too many questions. Some of us have been yelled at, lied to, deceived and disappointed. And it is hard to keep going and hard to believe it matters.
So today, let’s look one another in the eye and promise. Let’s promise to keep on going when we want to sit down.
Let’s remind ourselves that no one is better suited to raise these babies or teach these teens than we are. With great intentionality, God gifted you that child because in all the world, you were the one who could do it best. Your life story, your strengths, and your weaknesses are needed to reach your child.
So we have to rise up. We have to tap into a depth we did not know we had. We have to know that the work is worth it. We have to expect more from them and more from ourselves and cheer one another on because the path is bumpy and dark.
We do not travel alone. We need to draw strength from God and this parenting community and understand that when we feel lonely and stranded, we are believing a lie. The struggle you are facing has been faced before. And the time has come to reach out a hand and trust that someone who understands will be reaching back.
Affirmation matters. We can speak encouragement into the lives of others. Even if we are used to being judged, even if we have allowed ourselves to be critical, the time has come to make a change and begin to build up those around us, to affirm their gifts and notice their efforts and to come alongside instead of whispering behind.
God will equip you. The time has come to clasp our hands and bow our heads and allow God to give us the strength and wisdom we need for the day ahead. God tells us in scripture to ask so that we can receive. Taking time for our own spiritual nourishment will strengthen us for facing challenges.
Be a part of transformation. What the world will look like in the future is being decided today. In the little ways that we do not give up, we are building a corner of the Kingdom and helping our children to build it, too. Every time we raise the bar and gently correct and pull them in close, we are teaching them that we are in it for good. And reminding ourselves of the same.
We parents cannot give up or give in or give out. Instead, we must make a pact. Me and you. To love, to continue, to encourage, to keep on.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra