Originally published Thursday, 26 September 2013.
My oldest son turns nine this weekend. Nine. I often say that a hurricane made me a parent and motherhood has been a whirlwind ever since. When I look back to the day he was born, it seems like only yesterday.
When Hurricane Jeanne loomed large out over the ocean we had to decide where to go. Because our house isn't safe enough to endure a hurricane, we had to make a choice to either drive an hour and a half inland to my in-laws house or bunk up at a friend's house in town. Being nine months pregnant, we chose the latter option. Eight of us gathered at my friend's house and stayed there overnight until the storm passed. We returned home to a flooded neighborhood and where half the houses roofs were torn off. Palm trees lay in the streets. No one had power. I tried to rest in the stifling late summer heat while everyone else worked to inspect damage and clean up debris. Then later that evening, my water broke.
Speed forward nine years and I'm struck by how quickly time has passed. And then I realize, I'm halfway there. I am halfway through with raising my oldest son. In nine years he will be legally an adult and probably on his way to college.
As my mind struggles to wrap around that fact, I also begin to feel weighed down with the pressure to teach him everything he needs to know. What if there is something I've missed? What if I get to his eighteenth birthday and realize I've not prepared him for life?
When my mind and heart becomes consumed with the "what if's" of life, the only thing I know to do is pray. I have to give it to God and trust him to help me faithfully parent and raise both of my children to know and love him. I have trust his grace to fill in all the cracks that my imperfect and sinful parenting will inevitably leave behind.
Maybe you are half way there as well. Or maybe you are only just beginning. As parents, we all want to do the very best for our children. We read every book. We invest time, money, energy, sweat and tears into raising our children. Yet one of the very best things we can do and too often fail to do, is pray.
I like to write out my prayers. This is one that I have written multiple times in the quiet moments of my time with my Abba. And it's one you can use too.
Dear Father in Heaven,
I come to you burdened and weighed down by the responsibility of this little one you've given me. Every time I think I know what to expect, things change. In fact, nothing about parenting has been what I expected. It's been so much harder and at the same time, so much more beautiful, transforming, and wonderful than I imagined.
But the truth is, I worry. I worry that I will fail. I worry that my inadequacies will harm him in some way. I worry that he won't be ready for the life you have for him. I worry about all that he won't be prepared for.
Yet your word tells me not to worry. Forgive me for that. Forgive me for assuming that the outcome is in my hands and in my control. Forgive me for not trusting in your grace and mercy. Forgive me for my failures, my mistakes, my sins in parenting. Forgive me for all the times I fail to point my son to you.
Help me to raise this child. I want to glorify you in all I say and do. Prompt me when I am about to say something unkind. Pierce my heart with conviction when I am responding to my child in sin. Help me to remember your grace at the cross and the forgiveness purchased for me there. May I forgive as I have been forgiven. May I extend the grace I have been given. May I love my child as you have loved me. And may he see Christ in me.
Help me to teach him all you want him to know. Help me not to miss any gospel teaching moments. Help me to show him Jesus "when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deuteronomy 11:19).
And so I am trusting you in the raising of my child--give me greater trust. I ask that you would help him to grow to love you with all his heart. I pray that you would convict him of sin and show him his need for a Savior. Humble him. Show him his sin. Ratify your covenant in him. May he never know a day that he has not trusted you for his salvation.
Help him to be quick to repent. Help him to love the gospel and the gift of grace he has through Christ. Give him a heart that loves your word and hates sin. Help him to love others as you have loved him. Prepare him even now for the role you have for him in your Kingdom. Use him to spread the gospel and love of Christ to the nations. Protect his mind and heart from evil. Keep the truth always before him.
I know that you have loved him from before the foundations of the world. I know that you love him more than I ever could hope to love him. And I know that you are faithful, good, holy, and gracious in all you do.
Please hear this prayer and all the cries of my heart today. Because of Jesus and through Jesus I pray, Amen.