Growing into a Ground Shaker for God
By: Lindsay Tedder
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” - Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)
Our son is rowdy. He is rough and tough. He thunders through our home. He doesn’t walk, he runs. He is challenging to parent. We never know if we are doing the right things or saying the right things. I can’t begin to admit the number of articles I have read on the “strong-willed child.” Pfft…strong-willed. He is far greater than strong-willed.
He came crawling into our life when he was 13 months old. After 10 years of infertility struggles and all the pain associated, God answered our prayers and obedience to his Word with this adorable, squishy ball of blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. We were mesmerized, overwhelmed, overcome, and felt slightly in over our heads. We skipped the sweet, snuggly newborn stage and moved straight into the crawling, walking, curiosity-that-gets-into-everything stage.
Our entire home was baby gated. We had gates around our TV stand, gates separating each room, gates at the tops and bottoms of the steps. By 18 months, he could open almost every gate we set up. I knew then, something was up, but never being a parent before, I had no idea what to expect. Our babysitter said he was very “advanced.” We patted ourselves on the back thinking it was all those times we sat on the floor with him, drawing shapes and numbers and letters. At his two-year checkup, his doctor told us that he seemed to be very well adjusted, thriving, and oh yeah, he is very “advanced.” Queue mom and dad, quietly slapping a high five to each other when the doctor turned to make her notes. We felt consistently reminded that we were doing a great job!
Then something shifted. The terrible two’s get a pretty bad rap. I braced myself for the “terrible” and oh, it came. But it had NOTHING on the threenager that shed his cocoon shortly after his 3rd birthday. It was awful. I was at my wits end. I consistently felt that I was failing. I hated going in public with him. HATED it. I carried him “surfboard” style out of Target more times than I can count. It was so hard. I think I went about 4 months without taking him anywhere but the park and church.
Towards the end of the 3s, I could feel some fresh breath in my lungs. It felt like the fog was lifting and I could see again. I slowly began to take him places and not have to carry him out like a surfboard under my arm. There were still moments of angst. He still thundered through my house and could still throw himself to the floor in a fit of drama better than anyone on Broadway, but we were slowly moving out of this chaotic stage of our lives.
One morning, I snuck in bed with him, so I could be there when he woke up. Those morning snuggly hugs and kisses and the sheer joy that spreads across his face when he sees me is wonderful. As I patiently waited for him to wake up, I began to pray for him. In the midst of the prayer, I said, “I pray that he continues to be a ‘ground shaker’ all of his life.” I paused. “What is a ground shaker,” I thought? I have literally never said those words, so I knew it wasn’t “of me”… I knew there was a message to be heard.
He is a ground shaker in every sense of the term. He thunders through our house, shaking the ground with each excited step. But metaphorically he is a ground shaker as well. He is boisterous, independent, and immensely intelligent. He is three years old and challenges me more than any adult ever could. I know he is destined to be a ground shaker throughout his life. I know he will make waves wherever he ventures.
I read the verse above and pondered, am I exasperating him by the way I’m trying to parent? What could be different if I just loved him where he was and let God lead my actions and my words? What would happen if I stopped reading articles on how to parent a strong-willed child and instead, read the words of my Father? If I focus on the training and instruction of the Lord both for my life and for the life of my son, everything changes, and I can parent from grace.
I often wonder what would happen if I stopped exasperating my son and all of the things around me. If I focus on the training and the instruction of my Father, what ground could I shake? If I let go of the “right way” and focused on “His way” what could I accomplish?
What about you? What could God accomplish through you if you let go of the “right way” and focused on “His way”?
Lindsay Tedder is a believer, wife, mom, bestie and writer who lives in Columbus, Ohio with her bearded, bourbon-loving husband and her too-cool-for-school toddler. She is full of raw honesty, enthusiastic authenticity, amiable compassion, humble grit, powerful passion…and outrageous laughter, double chins, real life, and frothy nectar-of-the-gods coffee…because…coffee. Raised by a hardworking single mom, she overcame such trauma as sexual abuse-induced food addiction, the debilitating health issues associated with endometriosis, a decade of infertility, and recurring life themes of worthlessness. Connect with her at www.LindsayTedder.com.
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Originally published Tuesday, 25 April 2023.