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    Parenting with the right heart

    June 21, 2017

    Vulnerable. Personal. Raw.

    These things don’t come naturally to me, and this post is all of the above. Actually, I am not even sure that I want to share this little snippet on the blog. Typing it out and sending into the internet means that there are a whole lot more people to hold me accountable. My husband has been graciously proofing my posts. (Aside: proofreading my own work is most definitely not one of my strengths!) He remarked that this sounded like a journal entry. In a way, I suppose it is. However, my hope is that this encourages you in your parenting journey. It is not a how-to; there are plenty of folks who are more qualified to offer that kind of advice. This is a glimpse into what God is doing in my heart regarding my parenting, and co-parenting. Parenting with a partner is certainly one of those things that can reveal any weak spots in your marriage. I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is a great dad. We mostly do pretty well at being on the same team, but no marriage is impervious to struggles. Parenting on the same team is a common challenge, and I am sure many of you can relate. So here goes nothing.

    (Keep reading to the end for a free download!)

    photo credit: Natalie Zepp

    God has been speaking to me about something important lately. Something that requires change. Admitting that I am not right, aka wrong, is hard for this recovering perfectionist. I mean, I have done my research! I have read all kinds of articles from experts! I have looked at the studies and even meta-analyses of the studies. I think you can see the trend here. This kind of attitude centers on how I have it all figured out. The topic at hand happens to be parenting, but really it is a repetitive shortcoming. Any self-respecting perfectionist will tell you that you need to know your stuff if you are going to meet those impossible standards. The pitfall is that the overly important conviction that you are right can poison your heart and attitude. I recently found myself asking God how I should respond to my husband when I knew I was right. The idea that I might need to change was not even on my radar. Over the next few weeks He began to whisper things like:

    Does it really matter if you are right?…What good will the right parenting approach accomplish, if your heart is all wrong?… What happens when you are all used up trying to do thing the right way?… What would change about how you relate to your children if your heart was right before Me?… What would change about how you relate to your husband if your heart was right before Me?”

    You see, Jesus tells us in Luke 6:45b “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” I am pretty sure that includes tone and eye rolls.

    I love how God works. Clearly, I need some change here. However, God doesn’t come with condemnation and guilt trips. His voice of correction is loving and gentle. He extends grace to cover the past and His Spirit to produce real change in the future. The Jesus-following life isn’t about getting our act together to make ourselves acceptable but rather surrendering to His work. He is patient, waiting for us to respond and grow. So, I started to listen. And God continued to whisper. “What if your parenting philosophy was all about My Spirit at work in your heart? What if your words, tone, and actions were guided by the Spirit instead of just research?” So, I began to reflect on what that would look like. Of course, God has already spelled out what His Spirit at work in the human heart looks like:

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

    How is that for a parenting how-to? Seriously though, why are we so quick to apply the teachings of the New Testament to our interactions with those who are “out there”, but we set them aside when we interact with those in our own families? Why is it that I muster up my best for the stranger at the grocery store, but don’t make the same effort to speak to my closest neighbors in love? Let me be clear that this post is not intended to bring condemnation and guilt. God doesn’t work like that, and I don’t want to either. This post is meant to share about the work that God is doing in my heart. By all means, hone those parenting skills. Raising emotionally healthy children who make good choices and treat others with kindness is hard work and takes wisdom and effort. God has gifted us with some smart people who are experts in how our brains are wired and how we function as humans. It would be silly to ignore sound wisdom. However, what if we prioritized the fruit of the Spirit in our parenting and marriages? In our words and our tone? I’m not talking about developing those things in our family members but inviting the Spirit to develop them in us. Ouch, that might be uncomfortable. That might require change. That could make all the difference in the world.

    If this touched your heart at all (see what I did there), you can download this free tech wallpaper set for your various screens. Click below to save to your device. Once the image opens, right-click and save to your device. Free for personal use only. Watch out for the art print coming to the shop at Katie Schwarz Design soon!

    Fruitful Heart Art Print Coming Soon to the Katie Schwarz Design Shop