I've been struggling in my parenting this week. More like these weeks. Maybe if I was fully honest, I'd say 'I've been struggling in my parenting these years...since my children were born..' Because isn't that really the truth? Parenting is often wonderful, but more often hard.
The need is so vast. SO VAST. That's what I've been wrestling with recently.
My kids need so much. They need someone to manage conflict between them. They need someone to provide a home that's a peaceful refuge. They need someone to help them understand their emotions. They need someone to enjoy them and let them experientially know their worth. They need to be led and they need to learn to follow. They need to learn how Jesus is for every emotion, every situation, every moment, not just 'church-y' situations. They need someone to teach them how to care about friends. They need to learn responsibility.
I could go on and on. There are an infinite number of little steps, little lessons required to lead someone through all the stages of childhood into adulthood. And the need is so vast. The task feels too big.
And I'm so ill-equipped for the task. I'm still myself broken from my own wounds; I'm still immature, unsure how to deal with conflict, uncertain how to lead. I haven't figured out my own mess...and I've been handed this huge task, with this vast need staring me down.
This past Sunday, I was reminded of a story that I think I need to start reminding myself of each morning.
It's a story that's recorded in each of the Gospels. Jesus is with this huge group of people: five thousand of them. They hadn't had food, and they're hungry.
Jesus turns to His disciples and He tells them, "You give them something to eat."
That's why I need to remember this story. It's just like parenting. The need is so great, and Jesus pretty much turns to me, the parent, and tells me, "You give those kids something to eat. You guide them. You mold them. You have the talks. You give up what you'd rather be doing to show them affection. You muddle through your own mess to figure out how to 'parent.' You give them something to eat."
So the disciples look around, and they come up with a boy who has five loaves of bread and two fish. Not nearly enough for the vast need.
Just like me.
I don't have nearly enough for this vast need. I don't. I really have next to nothing to offer in my parenting. Especially when faced with the vast need.
But what does Jesus do?
He doesn't sneer at the gift.
He doesn't ask for someone else better to step in with a better solution.
He thanks the Father for those five loaves and two fish.
Just like me.
Jesus doesn't despise what I have to give. He doesn't wish that a different adult was in my kids' lives, or that someone else was their parent. I would be willing to say that He doesn't even wish that what I have to offer was more, or better. He thanks the Father for what I have to give, who I am as a parent.
So then, in the story, as the disciples obey, and start passing out the little they have to the many, there is enough. Not because they have enough. But because Jesus multiplied it. Jesus did the miracle.
May this, as well, be my story.
That as I do my part, and show up in the face of the vast need, with my little bit to offer, but relying on Jesus, that Jesus will do the work that only He can do: the miracle of multiplying, the miracle of changing my children's hearts, the miracle of providing for the needs and saving.
Because it's really His miraculous work that provides for the needs in the end. Not the little I have to offer. But He uses the little I have to do His miracle.
So as I ponder this story and these parenting thoughts each day I'll probably pray something like this...and I'd invite you to join me on my journey and pray it with me:
Jesus, today You've given me these two daughters and You tell me, "You give them food." Help me first to not turn away for their need because it's so great and because I don't have what it takes to feed them myself. Help me to see the vast need even when it hurts, even when it overwhelms.
And Jesus, I have nothing to offer them. I know it deep inside, but sometimes I try to pretend I have enough to feed them. I admit that all I have is five loaves and three fish.
I offer my five loaves and three fish to You, and I turn and offer them to my daughters.
You don't despise my parenting. You don't wish I was a better or different parent.
Would you do a miracle in my home in these days? As I see the needs and move towards them with the little I have, would You do Your work in my children? Would You multiply it? Amen.