I've learned a great deal over the past month or two. God primed my mind to change its orientation.
My husband showered me with sacrificial care as I got closer to labor and birthing our Gabriel. And, like an act of God, Gabriel has done magic on our family. I've seen things in my family that I haven't seen before his arrival. I've seen love in action and in unexpected places. The next time you look at a pineapple, think about the many pineapples my husband cut for me and the think about the hundreds of black spines he ripped off each one so lovingly.
I feared that all men would be callous to my pain. I feared that all men would be ambivalent to their newborns. I just didn't want to accept that as reality. And God led me to suspend judgment until I went through these things with my husband. I'm so glad I listened!
I feared that when I called upon help, that I was admitting defeat. But God said, "No child. You are being humble like I call all of you to be. I am here to help through my human hands and feet." And God made sure to provide wonderful hands and feet to do his work (my mother in law) in my life. She has made a huge difference in our hearts... at least my heart. She said things that spoke God's message to me that it is okay to make the choice we made; and many have made the same choice and have lived to see the benefits of that path.
I heard God's conviction of my errors in parenting. He called me out on being a hypocrite. He made me see that my techniques for parenting were related to my childhood and no longer applicable to my present life. He showed me without question, that I was doing the same thing that I was frustrated with in others. He called me out on something that I wasn't even aware of in myself. Thank God. I need to change those unsightly parts of my mind and behavior.
I think that the zinger with free will is that it has given us a compulsion to manipulate. He gives us free will to submit to His will. But even our God doesn't force us to do his will. Why do we trying to intimidate others to do our own will? I think the answer to this is fairly innocuous. We as humans, and weak of faith (yes, that is me many times), are focused on results. God doesn't care about results. Yet, we are driven to do anything to get results, and then lift up the results to the Glory of God, or to our own glory. Well, God has nothing to do with manipulation.
Another wrench in the free will issue is that children, left to their free will, often go astray in dangerous ways. So how do we balance being their first model of a god to be true to God's ways AND help them avoid dangerous or unhealthy paths? My conclusion is that we have no true bearing on what they choose but we must hold fast to our modeling for them. The modeling will hold true even when we land in our graves. It's the modeling that lives on. If I model manipulation, then that will be my legacy. If I model God's wise lessons, I will leave them behind as the exterior conscience for my kids and generations to come.
God doesn't focus on our performance. He focuses on our hearts and our choices as far as they conform to his teaching. I cannot go wrong as a parent if I do as He does. The results land on the recipient and are not held against me on judgment day. In that lesson, I have to trust. In God, I have to trust.
So I pray:
God, I know you are not done polishing my heart and my character. I ask you to continue to give me the lessons that I will be proud to leave behind for my own children. I thank you for being so gentle and yet clear about your messages to me. You are greater than I could even fathom. I ask that you continue to bless my family and my audience as they find their way to you in their own relationship with a most Perfect Parent so that they may become better parents themselves through your modeling. I submit more and more of my life to you each day through your ever present and unfailing invitation. Amen.