The last time I posted, Mr. E and I were right in the middle of our pregnancy. In fact, we were still referring to our precious bundle as, “Baby E.” Since then, a lot has changed for our little family. Mainly, welcoming our daughter, Miss Gracelyn Joy to our family. Now that we’ve officially journeyed through our first year as parents and have made it out alive, I think it’s safe to say, “this parenting gig is tough stuff!” For me, motherhood has proven to be one of the most challenging, joy-filled and purposeful roles I’ve ever been called to.
Year one with our little “Gracie girl” has been a testament of God’s faithfulness to us. While we’re grateful for this past year, it has not been without it’s ups and downs. With it, we have seen just how much we are prone towards selfishness and sin. We’re continually being reminded of our need for God and His grace in our lives. No doubt, year two will contain much of the same. But we would not have it any other way!
Presently, our precious little lady is entering toddlerhood. As many of you know, this stage isn’t without it’s challenges, but it’s also super fun! Not only is our bond with our daughter growing with each passing day, we also get a front row seat as she discovers the world around her. She’s constantly learning new things (words, skills, etc.) and is soaking everything up like a sponge! During this phase of curiosity and great discovery, I’ve been cautioned that it is oftentimes tempting for parents to become fearful of crushing a child’s spirit if they are firm and consistent about rules. However, I’m learning that Gracie cannot experience true freedom until the boundaries are clearly established. When we’re clear about her boundaries and she knows where her limits lie, it is so much easier for her to relinquish ‘testing her limits’ and return to playing. That being said, this does not mean that she always appreciates and/or understands the boundaries we set for her. She is still learning to trust us. Gracie doesn’t always know and/or believe that we have her best in mind. When she doubts our good intentions and/or her desire for a “fun, new experience” trumps her desire to obey she oftentimes rebels against our authority as her parents. Her rebellion typically results in her throwing a temper tantrum, and/or her experiencing the natural consequences of her choices (a bump on the head from falling off something she’s been told not to climb on, literally eating a fistful of yucky dirt after she’s been told not to put it in her mouth, etc.).
You and I are not all that different from a toddler testing his/her boundaries. As I mentioned, this first year of parenting has been a real joy…but certainly no “walk in the park.” When we’re faced with life’s inevitable difficulties, it’s encouraging to be reminded that God desires to use ALL of our life…including those difficult circumstances you may not have chosen…for our good (Romans 8:28-29). He desires to use those difficult circumstances to make us more like Himself. We do well to be reminded that He is over ALL of our circumstances.
The apostle Paul faced many difficulties: physical illness, beatings, imprisonments, stonings, hunger, and more (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). But whatever the circumstance, Paul lived to know Christ and to make Him known. God didn’t allow these circumstances in order to frustrate Paul’s desire to experience Christ more fully, or to stifle the progress of the gospel. Instead, God intended them to form boundaries for Paul’s life. Rather than pushing back against these boundaries he accepted them and worked within them– praising and thanking God all along the way!
Like Paul, God has set boundaries around our lives too. For those of you who are parents, our children form part of the boundaries. For others, it may be something else (a relationship, a lack of relationship, a position, a lack of a position, health, a lack of health, wealth, a lack of wealth, etc.) that forms the boundaries. But remember, God brings the circumstances to better define your life, not to restrict it.
Oftentimes my temptation is to believe that I have been created to BE Jesus to those around me (including my family/child). However, that could not be further from the truth! Our design as Christ-followers is to display our NEED for Jesus to those around us. This is an essential reality I frequently forget. Whether as a mother, or as people in general, we all will be faced with difficult circumstances. But with God’s help, we can face them head on with joy and thanksgiving knowing that we were created to NEED Jesus, and that these difficult circumstances are gifts to remind us of our need for and dependence on Him. We have the opportunity to allow the environment in which God has placed us in to become a positive factor in our growth (and our children’s growth as well).
Be encouraged, the specific limitations or challenges you may be facing can become stepping stones to new depths with God. You may be in the “thick of” a particular set of challenges today, but know that God desires to be your comfort, strength, encouragement, and wisdom. Remember, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11). God promises to lead us, though the way that He leads you may be entirely different from how He leads me. What is universal is His heart for us. As we choose to be women (and men) of prayer, read God’s Word, seek counsel, wait on God’s peace in our hearts and trust Him by acting in faith, we will begin to truly know and experience His heart. Let us ponder the greatness of the God we serve and know assuredly that He is a good God, who sets good boundaries, and has our absolute best in mind.
Grace & Peace,