Paper piles of important notices and special offers, graded homework, statements and other items that need attention permeate the landscape like the dandelions multiplying in my yard. Procrastination reigns as I continue to stack paper atop paper until one of two things happens: I'm unable to cook dinner due to lack of counter space or I’m expecting a guest whom I wish to impress with my clean countertops. In any case, I focus on the task of paper sorting and end up purging most of it because deadlines have passed and I missed the party, function or special buy on that nifty item I knew I needed. If it takes me five or 10 minutes to discard that mess, why do I avoid the process? I’ll tell you why. As a frustrated perfectionist, if I can’t do it right, I won’t even begin the project.
I know this about myself; my kids know it; my husband knows it. They claim I like things done a certain way…my way! I’ve attempted to disguise it, but apparently, this trait has leaked out anyway. I suppose they experienced some sort of epiphany like I did recently. I was driving one morning, praying out loud in my typical fashion, bemoaning my poor spiritual influence as a parent. “I’m not a good enough role model for my kids. I’m missing teaching moments. I should create more spiritual moments. I’m not all sufficient.” The moment I breathed that last sentence, God switched the light on inside my brain. Annette, you’re not supposed to be all-sufficient. I’m the All-Sufficient One. Oh yeah. Sigh. Relief. What in the world have I been doing, trying to take God’s place? Trying to be everything for my kids? I’ve put so much pressure on myself for their spiritual well-being that I’ve neglected to trust God with my failings, my utter lack, my incapability to be their All.
I want God to be their Everything. He is the only One capable of being present at all times, in all ways, in all situations. He has all the answers; I don’t. Why am I trying to fill God’s slot in their lives? Is it the perfectionist in me that seeks my will for their lives? Doesn’t God know them better than I do since He created them? My heart knows that, but I sure don’t parent that way. Most of the time, I assume I know best and spend time instructing God on the matter. I want to clue Him in on the plan I’ve concocted for their spiritual growth.
My plan doesn’t include pain, suffering or hardship. It includes nonrebellious living, no major sins and following God wholeheartedly. This would be laughable except that I really have prayed and hoped God would follow my will. Praying the alternative is not much fun…His will for them, not mine. I desire that my kids take the high road instead of the hard road. Taking the path of sin and moving away from God for years is not the life I would choose for them. Suffering through relationship pain, physical pain or emotional pain is not on my top ten list of things for them to experience.
I ponder my own road…salvation, growth, immaturity, love, marriage, hurt, heartbreak, suffering, pain, divorce, second chance, love, marriage, growth, maturity…How can I exempt my children from the ups and downs of life and their choices, when I myself faced pain and loss? That hurt and heartbreak forged my growth in Jesus and caused me to lean and trust in His sufficiency. I hope my story will lead them to Christ without having to experience willful living. But, maybe their story will include things I don’t wish for them in a million years. God alone knows what each of my children will experience in order to follow Him with their entire hearts. Still, I’m hesitant to pray His will for them because of the fear of the unknown. When Jesus prayed for God’s will, it cost His life.
This is the point in which my all-sufficiency takes over. Perhaps I can rig my own plan for their lives, one that doesn’t cost them anything. I recall that I’ve been attempting that for years now and keep failing. Even with my perfectionistic tendencies, I can’t be a perfect enough parent, role model, teacher. My children will make mistakes, choose poorly, experience pain, endure hardship, and I must trust and point them to the All-Sufficient One. His plan is perfect; His will be done…