I stood in church on Sunday morning, listening to the worship music with eyes closed and heart bruised. Saturday had been a battle -- a long, hard slog through the minefields of parenting. Chores that should have taken half an hour took two. A fun afternoon of playing outside with friends turned into an argument and a questionable parenting moment. Frustration with the day nearly ruined a fun, childless evening out with friends.
This parenting thing is a roller coaster ride. Some days we have it all together, and we do everything right. Our kids behave, they learn, and they laugh. Other days leave us battered and bruised at the end. Even though we hold onto our tempers and grab the teachable moments as they come, we still end the day feeling as if we've failed. No matter what we do on those days, it doesn't seem as if it's enough, as if it made any difference at all.
This parenting thing doesn't come with a money-back guarantee of success. You can do everything right, and your kids can still make poor choices. You can have a great day one day and a complete nightmare of a day the next. Problems that you think you've conquered can rear their heads again months later.
The truth about parenting is that it's a journey, and it's one that we can't walk alone if we expect to make it through. On those days when our hearts are bruised, our patience is worn thin, and we wonder if the future holds more days like this, we can only find comfort and wisdom in one place.
On those days, we need to take our wounded hearts, our battered souls and place them at the foot of God's throne. We need to lay our kids at His feet. Because the truth is that no matter how bad the day or how bleak the next day looks, God loves our kids more than we ever can. He has a plan for both them and us. We just have to let Him have control of our parenting, of the situation.
We need to be like Hannah who said "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord" (1 Samuel 1:27-28). Our kids aren't ours. They belong to God. When we remember that simple fact, we remember that these tough moments in parenting aren't ours to bear alone. We can transfer that burden to God's more-than-ample shoulders. We can entrust our kids to His safe-keeping, and we can draw on His wisdom and love to get us through the valleys and help us climb the mountains.
So if you're bruised and battered by this parenting journey, pray Hannah's prayer. Give your kids over to God and let Him heal your wounds, offer rest for your weary soul and guide you as you search for the right path to follow with your kids. He won't fail you.