Saturday, January 01, 2011

If I Could See The Future, Part Two

I’m no Michael J. Fox, but I’ve been trying to figure out how I could get into the future.  I’d like to know what wisdom I would have for myself at forty-five.  I mean, by then my three oldest will be in college.  And I’ll be in debtor’s prison.  Wearing my “Basketball Mom” t-shirt.  But I’m guessing I may learn a thing or two over the next decade.

I can’t see the future, but I do know the One who can.  He has all things under His control.  And I’m way beyond thankful for that.  Having God doesn’t mean that it will be smooth sailing though.  Along with joy and celebration, there are going to be challenges, hard days, tough decisions and heartache.  Trust me, I’ve seen plenty of that in the last few years. 

So how do I go about living and parenting the best I can?  I don’t have a cheat sheet of answers.  There is no special formula.  It’s hard work and takes time.  Lots and lots of time. 

There are issues that I can let go of.  For instance, I like for their bedrooms to be clean.  Actually, I like for my room to be clean too.  We should take care of the things God gives us.  That is something I have stressed and fought about a lot over the years.  But that is not an issue that is make or break, life or death.  I think if I could see the future, I would tell myself to choose my battles.  I don’t want to fall into the trap of spending a lot of time and energy on things of minimal importance.  Because eventually they will grow up and move out and take all their junk with them and the room will be clean.

Our kids have to practice piano every day.  Some of them enjoy it, one does not.  But it’s something important to Mike and I.  That’s a battle we will fight.  That’s an area where they need to obey.  But in a few years when they are older, that is an area where we will let them make their own decisions.  If I could see the future, I might see my oldest daughter playing the piano.  That would be a shock!

Then, there are issues that really are of the utmost importance.  They cannot be pushed aside.  They must be faced.  Things like way we treat others, the way we use our tongue, the way we dress, the way we respect authority; those are issues of the heart. 

If I could see the future, I might remind myself not to get so busy and wrapped up in every day dealings like clean rooms, piano practice, homework and sports that I am unable to deal with the heart.  The most important things are the easiest to fall by the wayside; like teaching the kids about Jesus and His loving sacrifice, reading the Bible, worshipping and serving.  Out of the outflow of that should come kind words, love for siblings, obedience, and responsibility. 

If I could see the future, I might remind myself  to be patient because it’s  a really long process.  Some of the things we are starting to deal with now are big issues.  Some issues aren’t so big, but left ignored they could grow into monsters.  Issues that are driving me to my knees and pushing me to tears.  They are battling my resolve and testing my heart. 

If I could see the future, I might remind myself that it’s  actually good.  That’s right where God wants me.   Humble and fully dependent on Him.  Oh I have all the answers to schedules and laundry and can figure that out.  But hurtful, angry words flowing out of the lips of one of my children?  I have no idea.  On that and lots of other things.  And it is so hard and painful that I would just rather keep the peace and press on with piano lessons and basketball practice.

If I could see the future, I might be thankful that I said no to girl scouts. Even though I like being super woman, it’s just a show. I’ve got bigger fish to fry.  God showed me that I have four girls (and  a boy) that need my attention and love.  I need to put my energy and focus on them, not what badge my troop should earn next.  If there’s no girl scouts the world will roll on, but no one else can be a mom to my kids except me.

If I could see the future, I don’t think I’ll look back on these years with disdain.  With great challenges comes great opportunity.  For my family, for my marriage and for my soul.

Because I know the One who knows the future.  He’s with me.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matthew 28:19-20

When I’m beat, He’ll fight. 

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Exodue 14:13-14

When I don’t know what to do, He’ll guide. 

The LORD will guide you always;
   he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
   and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
   like a spring whose waters never fail.  Isaiah 58:11

When I’m frustrated, He’ll listen.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

When we are broken, He’ll heal. 

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

When we are lonely and dejected, He’ll love. 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

I don’t think there is anything more important than living and learning that as a family. Heart issues might be what it takes for our family to be more like Christ and draw closer to him.   So if If I could see the future, I might say bring it on.  Because I know that One that knows the future.

If I Could See The Future, Part One

If I could see the future, decision making would be a lot easier.  I’ve heard that when making decisions you should think about the ramifications and benefits in five or fifteen years. When it comes to life and parenting unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball.  But it sure would be nice sometimes. 

As I write this, I am sitting up waiting to ring in the new year with the older girls, the only hold outs who haven’t fallen asleep.  It seems natural to think about the future on New Year’s Eve, doesn’t it?  I’ve been having a lot of moments lately that have left me frazzled and beat.  It pushes me to make decisions that I wonder if I’ll like when I look back.

If could see the future, I wonder what I know at  thirty-five that I would love to go back and tell myself at twenty-five?  Would the things I worried about make sense now?  Would my decisions be different?

Ten years ago, I was twenty-five and I had three very young children.  I was worried about a lot of things.  Schedules, bedtimes, bottles, pacifiers and messes.  Brands of diapers, brands of clothes, getting a van with two doors that didn’t look like a box (none of which we could afford).  Looking forward to the kids starting preschool, kindergarten, gymnastics.  Running the house and our life exactly the way I thought it should be. 

If I could go back to those days I would tell myself to worry less and enjoy more.  Those years are too fast and too precious.  Those babies are all grown up and in school.  Those years are the foundation for these years.  I fear that I missed the simple joys of those days.

If I could see the future, I wonder what I might know at forty-five?  What would I tell myself now?  Well, I don’t know.  Because thankfully I’m not forty-give yet and my kids are still at home.  So I still have a chance.  There are still things I worry about.  Things I want.  Things that frustrate me.  I don’t want to look back and regret how I spent my time or the decisions I made. 

If I could see the future, maybe I would tell myself to worry less and enjoy more.  These years are fast and precious.  A few weeks ago Mike and I had a decision to make.  Our neighbors had puppies and the kids had begged to get one.  We declined because I didn’t want a dog; too much work, too messy.  Two weeks before Christmas they called and offered us the last one. 

I think I realized when they brought the puppy over on Christmas morning that maybe in ten years I will look back and think it was silly.  Silly to say no to the kind of joy we had that day for a small amount of inconvenience. 

If I could see the future, I might see a big dog laying in the grass at Grant’s graduation party. A big part of our family’s life.  And another ten years that flew by and slipped away. 

Tonight, we had to cancel our trip to my Grandparents for a very special event thanks to a Minnesota blizzard.  I hemmed and hawed about having people over, which my family was begging me to do.  My house wasn’t that clean.  I didn’t have a plan.  I had limited groceries in the house.  Guess what?  It was fine.  We were stuffed.  We were happy.  It was much nicer than staying home alone stressing about how perfect the house was not.

If I could see the future, I might see my still imperfect house filled with friends, love and laughter. 

If you could see the future, what do you think you might see?  What would you want to tell yourself in ten years?  Will the things that trouble you, inspire you, consume you be worth it?  Like it or not, the future will become the present.