Two steps forward, one step back. We have all heard the catchphrase that sums up how some tasks can feel fultile and arduous. Any veteran parent will tell you that this sentiment perfectly sums up the experience of raising children. On any given day, while I may take some pleasure in the 2 or 3 opportunities I think I get right, what often stands out for me are my failures, my 'one step back' moments, my shortcomings, my missed opportunities.
I want to encourage parents of faith everywhere with this truth – two steps forward and one step back is still moving forward. Instead of dwelling on the losses, it is helpful to ensure your two steps forward are well paced, sure-footed, and abundantly fruitful. Match this intention with the abundant grace of our God, and parenting is transformed from something we “survive” to the means by which we find ourselves enjoying God's kingdom-life. Refining our two steps forward is one way we embrace a life, not of perfection, rather of surrendered progress. We press on. We run our best race. We will fall, and slip, and miss the mark. Yet we will not be overcome – not even by teenagers! We are not alone.
So for today, consider these simple adjustments to make your two steps forward really count:
1. Ask better questions. Communication is at the heart of every healthy relationship, just as questions are at the heart of most good conversation. How was your day? How was school? These questions are commonly asked, and almost universally responded to with “fine.” Consider asking questions that really communicate your desire to listen. “Will you tell me about something unexpected that happened in your day?” “When did you feel strong today?” These inquiries may take a bit more mental energy on your part, but over time the benefits will be significant. As your children come to trust your desire to know them well, they also may desire to know you better too.
2. Let your prayers be heard. I imagine that most parents of faith spend time in prayer for their kids. Consider ways to let your kids in on your prayers. As you tuck them in at night, pray over them out loud, so they might know your deepest desires for them, and learn how to pray themselves. If you pray together, invite them to pray for you as you pray for them. If your teen has a cell phone, text them your prayers as you think of them throughout the day. All this, not to boast or be showy about your prayer life, but rather to honestly and faithfully model for your children the intimate relationship God is fostering with us.
I pray that you will be encouraged as your parent, and you will experience the joy of connecting with your children as you incorporate these intentional steps forward today.
This is the first in a series of posts by Pastor Kyla, highlighting small and simple steps that, by God's grace, help us develop spiritually healthy families.