Pick Your Battles

Parenting. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

   Parenting is hard, y’all, and my oldest is only seven. To my readers who are further down the parenting journey, I know you’re facing much deeper and weightier issues than we currently endure. Still, there are days when I just cry because of how hard it is. It’s wonderful and terrible and fulfilling and depleting all at the same time. I simultaneously love and loath the monotony of it all. The same messes to clean. The same lessons to teach. The same words or actions to correct. It’s a lot. So you have to choose your battles. I am a firm believer in this.

   Here’s a fun fact about a battle I do NOT choose. I don’t often make my kids eat vegetables. Because they often hate them. And some of them tend to cry the big tears when I even seem to suggest that they might give one little bite of broccoli a try. It is as if I’m peddling poison, guys.

   Let me be clear that there are some child behavior rules I insist upon: You don’t hit each other or me. You use kind language and reserve potty talk for the bathroom. Seriously, I know it’s impossible to stop all the potty talk, but it just makes me feel better if you go stand by the potty when you do. You do your best to be respectful, and even if we disagree, you still have to obey eventually. You go to school. Yes, you have to. No, putting your body face down in front of the door will not convince me to keep you home. You have to sleep in your own bed because I just can’t share my bed with you no matter how much I love you. You apologize when you’re wrong. And we both know you get to hear mommy say sorry a lot because she’s just as human as you are.

   But enforcement of eating vegetables? I only have energy for a limited number of battles during any given day, and vegetables just aren’t first in my ranking system. They really aren’t in my top five. And sometimes I feel guilty because, you know, mom guilt. And veggies are good for you. And I wonder if Jesus cares about my kids eating vegetables? Probably not, right? I’m too tired to even consider that possibility anyway so don’t comment.

   While I’m over here picking and choosing which battles to wage, my spirit wonders if I’m picking the right ones. Are these the right issues, Jesus? What am I missing that is important? And it strikes me that we are repeatedly told in scripture that the one big aim in life is just to Love God.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. {Luke 10:27}

   Beyond that primary goal, the other daily parenting battles I pick really are secondary. And my family looks different than other families, and that’s perfectly normal and good. Furthermore, when it comes to the rest of the parental issues, my Jesus cares a whole lot less about which battles I pick and a whole lot more about how I wage them.

Do everything in love. {1 Corinthians 16:14}

But how? How can I do everything in love? What does that look like in normal mom speak?

– Love would freak out less, and focus on keeping calm when my kids are losing it over the vegetables <or insert any other abhorrent food or activity here> again. And let’s be honest: parental calmness during the 4 to 8pm slot would be some kind of true LOVE MIRACLE.
– Love would act more like a servant in my attitude (Philippians 2) and less like the bossy, exacting mother I so often hear escape my lips. I was a little convicted when I heard one child say to another this week, “For CRYING OUT LOUD.” Oh mercy. Let’s lead by example, Sarah.
– Love would approach each behavior correction as an opportunity to show true, humble, Christlikeness– not as a power trip to get my way. I’m not working on training little robots to make me look good. I’m working on little souls and teaching them how we live grace in each and every day.

   So I’m working on those things this week. I’m trying to keep the main thing front and center, and no matter what, I want to do all the things in love. It’s easier said than done, because life is chaotic, and coffee only goes so far, and tempers are frazzled, and all of us are sinful. For those rough bits I just keep casting myself on the grace of the One who loves me in the midst of the sacred and the secular, and everywhere in between. And yes, child, you still have to go to school.

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2 thoughts on “Pick Your Battles

  1. I loved this post, Sarah! In particular, “Love would approach each behavior correction as an opportunity to show true, humble, Christlikeness– not as a power trip to get my way” resonated with me. Win your children to Christ through loving them in the dailyness of life. The rest is gravy.

    Like

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