How God Gets Through to Me: Lessons from my Children

That God refers to himself as a parent has given me great peace and a little angst over that last 5 1/2 years that I’ve been a parent. I realize that my relationship with my children and the lessons I learn from them teach me about my relationship with God. Sometimes it seems to me that God smacks me over the head with his lessons.
Before I had kids, I think I’d heard this notion before, but I didn’t realize how often I would see parallels between what I try to teach my kids and what God is trying to teach me.

I want to add that I know we all find these little heavenly nuggets from time to time, in different ways, and it doesn’t take having children to learn what God wants us to learn, but this is one way I see God’s hand in my life. Here are three lessons I’ve learned recently, one from each of my children.

A Smile
With my newborn being child number three, I don’t spend as much one-on-one time with him as I did with the first two. As I rush around the kitchen, chasing, cooking, begging and negotiating with the older two, I occasionally glance at the bouncy chair cradling my 4 month old. Each time I look over, for a split second, our eyes meet and I get the biggest smile of the day, and usually a “coo” or “goo”. Babies crave attention, human interaction. Our relationship is the most important part of his life. And he came right from God. Wow, it just blows me away. Especially when I think of how much time I spend worrying about all those things that don’t matter nearly as much, my appearance, shopping, cleaning, entertainment, etc. As I think about that, I get back my focus on smiling more, making happiness and sharing it with others.
When I look at my baby’s face and he smiles back, God tells me that developing pure and meaningful relationships with others is a central part of my true identity.

Try-Try
When our boys reach age two we nickname them “Little Tries Hard.” Always asserting his independence, my middle son, “Little Tries Hard” wants to do everything by himself. The most recent task he has tried to master has been shutting the doors to the armoire that houses our TV. The right door has a lip on the edge to keep the left door shut, so the left door must be closed first, then the right. This, is of course, way too advanced for a two year old. So, “Little Tries Hard” shuts the right door, then tries to shut the left. It doesn’t close properly, and never will, because of the design of the door. Nevertheless, he keeps trying all the while saying “try-try.” Again and again he slams the left door, and it keeps swinging open. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing this with God. There are a few issues that I really can’t understand why, if they are true, God would find acceptable, or ideal. (patriarchy, polygamy, among others) In my prayers, I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall, or God really isn’t listening. But, maybe it’s not God, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the “Little Tries Hard” trying to make my ideas of good and fair fit in to a system that is simple, but beyond my comprehension right now.
When I watch “Little Tries Hard” wrestle with the armoire doors, I think about God watching me wrestle with the teachings of the church, and how I should be humble and teachable like a child. There is so much I still have to learn.

Moved by Love
My biggest parenting struggles come from our 5 yo Tadpole and his behavioral problems associated with ADHD. Despite knowing better, I often resort to parenting tactics of fear, manipulation, and occasionally physical punishment. None of these methods get to the root of the problem, self-control, and most of them demonstrate my marked lack of that skill.Despite this, and because of the intensity of our struggles, the little moments of cooperation stand out even more in my mind.Today was a very long day in church, especially the last part when DH and I teach Tadpole’s primary class. He acted out several times during the last hour of class instruction, and instead of sending him out angrily, which I usually do, I took him out into the hall for a chat.He sat on my lap and I hugged him. I told him I loved him. I kissed and cuddled him. Then we went back into the class. He was fine for the rest of the lesson.My mind screams, “Love works!” I know that’s what we learn in the scriptures and by experience, but I need more reminders of this saving principle.
When I love my child when he’s made mistakes, I feel God’s love encouraging me to do better.

These are just a few of the little lessons I think God is trying to get across to me in my life. How about you? Do you find yourself getting little bits of inspiration about your relationship with God? Do you find these mini-lessons hard to follow, or a manifestation of God’s love for you? Feel free to share your insights regardless of whether they are related to parenting or some other aspect of your life.

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Jessawhy

Jessawhy is a wife, mother, community volunteer, activist and student. She is currently working towards a Physician Assistant degree.

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  1. Deborah says:

    Jess:

    I love these vignettes — and getting to know you better through them. That final episode with your 5yo feels true with adult relationships. (As in, When am I going to learn that guilting my husband with classic passive-aggressiveness does NOT benefit him, me, or our marriage? 🙂

  2. Amy says:

    These were beautiful. I enjoyed and related to every single one and really appreciated you sharing these insights.

    I’ve only been a mother for 10 mnths now, but I am in awe at what a fast track course in ‘Learning to Depend on God 101’ it has been. Wish I could describe it as eloquently as you, though!

  3. Caroline says:

    These are great, Jess. And I love the pictures.

    One of my mini lessons is my husband’s very existence. I often get pretty frustrated, saddened, angry, etc. by the patriarchal structure of the Church. But then I look at Mike and see how kind, open minded,and fair Mike is and I realize that very, very good people can come out of (what I see as) a flawed Church power structure. This gives me one more reason – among others – to stay.

  4. Jessawhy says:

    Deborah,
    I totally agree that love works for adult relationships as well. It’s hard for me to break free from unhealthy patterns of interaction that I was raised with. My DH recommended the book “Leadership and Self-Deception” which I really liked (and promptly forgot to implement).
    Amy,
    I like your description of motherhood. It seems to change, and I know that the struggles I have now will seem so much smaller in retrospect when the problems get bigger and a kiss and hug won’t always fix everything.
    Caroline,
    I’ve feel like you do about patriarchy. It’s easy to dislike in theory, but there are many wonderful men who do a great job of demonstrating why many people love and support the church structure.

    Thanks all for your kind words. I wondered if this post was a little too narrow in focus, but I hope that others can find something to relate to.

  5. Zenaida says:

    Jessawhy, I love when someone is able to use a narrow subject matter to teach some broader concept. I think you did a wonderful job of illustrating God’s love and patience with us. I do not have a husband or children, but I was still able to relate. Thank you!

  6. Kunz Family says:

    Jess. I don’t have anything eloquent to add, but I did like the parallels that you made with God and your kids. I miss our late night chats until two in the morning when we were in high school. I would get home and my mom would ream me for being out to late and pester me until I told her “where i really was…”

  7. Jessawhy says:

    Britt,
    Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.
    Those talks were fun. I can’t remember the last time I stayed up till 2 AM!
    seems like a lifetime ago. . .

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