As I sat there nursing Judah, hoping against hope that he wouldn't wake and cry when I laid him down and wishing Nora could just put herself to bed, I prayed. I prayed that God would redeem parenting for me.
I left Judah crying while I helped Nora get ready for bed, even though I've tried not to leave him to cry at night. And Nora got her Bible story and prayers, but no extra frills at bedtime; even though there's this inspiring blog post being shared all over about how "sometimes bedtime takes forever (and it should)", this Mama's love always stretches to forever, but sometimes her kindness doesn't.
The crying subsided and even though the dog still barked and I still heard my name at least 10 more times, I didn't walk out the door. And at first I heard nothing in response to my request about redemption. So I headed to the only place that made sense. The Bible. I looked up some passages about parents and children. And felt discouraged.
I always think of redemption as God taking something that was His that sin made ugly and making it what He intended it to be again. I can think of at least three times that redemption has been mentioned in this context in the past several weeks during sermons: redeeming marriage, redeeming singleness, redeeming gender roles. These have all been nice, easy concepts of redemption for me. Like when God redeems us from sin, these three have been taking something stressful and messy and made it better. Made it easier, gave relief, gave peace.
Redeemed parenting? It wasn't shaping up to be so nice, easy, clean, or relieving. I was hoping for a nice metaphor. I was hoping for lots of passages saying things like, "children are a gift" or "being a parent is a joy"...at least then all I'd have to do is grapple with how to get my emotions to reflect what the Bible said.
But God doesn't deal so much in emotions as He does truth.
The truth that I kept coming across was that passive parenting is not what God intended. I found time and time again a charge for parents to pass the scriptures and the testimonies of what God has done in their lives down to their children. I found Hannah who prayed so hard for a child that Eli thought she was drunk and when she received him she dedicated him back to The Lord. I turned to that darn Proverbs 31 woman (who I often feel I hold so little in common with--especially tonight) and found that she actively worked hard to provide for her children and they called her blessed. I found that she had "faithful instruction on her tongue". I found that parenting is hard.
I began to think God was telling me my picture of redemption was skewed. This is what I found when I started digging a little: