Before I went to the weather site I searched the following three words: Tired of Parenting.
I'm not proud of that. Not at all. Several years ago I would have never even had that thought. But as I get closer to my 50th birthday (next month) I sometimes wish I could be selfish and and just take care of me and my husband. Part of it is that spring is taking so long to get here and we've been stuck inside a lot (I love sitting outside in the sun). Part of it is that my biggest challenges of parenting have come with my two youngest children. All children are different and all children have their own unique needs. I've learned something new with each of my six children. But God uses some children to really stretch us parents.
He doesn't stretch us needlessly. There are always good lessons to be learned. And I love all my kids. I really do. Maybe we are stretched in parenting when our children's thought processes are vastly different than ours. That's where we clash. Actually, that's where we clash with anyone -- when we cannot fathom why they see a situation the way they do.
Seeking to understand is showing love.
Okay, do you remember being a teenager? All that teenage angst? All that teenage thought that the world and your parents and every single adult in your life is against you? God taught me something one day about love.
My mother and father had four teenagers in the house at one time (me and my three brothers). Dad somehow kept us in working cars throughout high school and college. They might not have been worth much but they ran and ran reliably. Most every Saturday he was in the garage tinkering on a car engine. Once we had a total of 10 cars!
I don't know if I ever thanked my dad during my growing up years for all the auto work he did tirelessly for us. At least not until God showed me something. God showed me that Dad did this because he loved us. He showed his love by keeping our cars running. When God showed me that, I felt foolish for never noticing it before.
For the last day a verse has been in my head. Here it is:
"But to each one is given the manifestion of the Spirit for the common good." 1 Corinthians 12:7
When we use our gifts and skills to benefit others (especially other Believers and other maybe-one-day-Believers) we are showing love. When we use our gifts and skills to benefit others, Jesus is glorified. So I have been wondering if I'm using mine in a way that encourages others (I'm still thinking).
When people stretch us they are giving us a gift. We are becoming more and more the people God created us to be. These challenging people may sometimes be our children. Sometimes they may be spouses. Sometimes they might be co-workers, fellow church members, community members, even friends.
Before I became the parent of my two youngest children I thought I was a pretty good parent. Turns out my four oldest kids just happened to be easy to raise. My two youngest are great people (both in high school now). They bring light and joy to others. They do okay in school. They are involved in school activities. They are usually very respectful. They are gifts straight from God. It's just that their mother sometimes feels old. They both are becoming the people God created them to be, and I know God has a great plan for both of them.
What about your gifts? What about those challenging people in your life? Can you see them as gifts? They are.