Feeling overwhelmed as a parent?

I recently resigned from my university teaching position. It just felt like too much stress and strain for our family, and for my kids.

As I was asking my husband his opinion on whether I should quit or keep working, he surprised me by saying he thought I should stop. He has never said anything like that before. Then again, I have never threatened to quit something before (except when I was 7 years old and told my parents I wanted to quit gymnastics — which I didn’t, by the way, but went on for another 8 years and then two more years as a coach).

As parents we often give up things for our children — jobs, sleep, maybe even nicer clothes or just time having fun.

But as I was reading the Scripture recently, something really leaped off the page and I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. I want to share it with you.

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were unable to have children. Then one day, when Zechariah was burning incense to the Lord, an angel appeared to him with a message. God had heard Zechariah’s prayers and Elizabeth would bear a son. I’d read the story before, but two things the angel said after that stood out to me.

The angel said that John (the baby Elizabeth would bear) would be “a joy and delight” to Zechariah and that the Holy Spirit would work strongly through him turning the hearts of the parents to their children (and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous).

In my prayers recently I have been all about asking God to turn the hearts of my disobedient kids to doing what’s right (can I get an ‘Amen’?). According to this Scripture, that’s a great way to pray. But the other side is that it is also God’s work to turn a parent’s heart toward their children.

Yes, I can give up jobs, nice clothes, time off (etc, etc, etc) for my kids, but at the end of the day, is my heart turned toward them? Are they a joy and delight to me?

I don’t want to wake up one day and realize I’ve been holding my breath getting through sleepless nights and the trials of parenthood, and that life has gone by, and that I’ve missed the joy — that I’ve missed my kids.

I realized that God was working in my heart that day as I could feel my heart being drawn toward my children in a new way that day. Some of the pressure to get everything done lifted off and I let them be a joy to me. They are actually pretty good at it (most of the time)!

Do I still have to discipline? Yes. I’m sure Zechariah did, too. With the exception of Jesus, there are no sinless children. But when the discipline is done, and peace is restored, it’s time to enjoy them. While I knew this and had read this Scripture many times before, God did a work in my heart and I could feel a difference. Yes, I still got frustrated and tired and everything else, but beneath that something was changing. I should say “is changing.”

And now, when I pray for my kids to want to do what’s right, and I can also ask God to turn my heart toward them.

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