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Lessons in Parenting
by Richele McFarlin
Not For Sale
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Who would have thought the mundane task of grocery shopping could serve to provide insight into God’s Word? I know that was the last thing I expected to bring home from the grocery store. Well, that and the kitchen cleanser on the market that promises to make my life easier. It started out like any normal day but soon turned into an education in parenting. The Lord taught me from the moment I said, “Where are your shoes?”

I finished my grocery list and grabbed my coupons. I called out, “Get your shoes we are leaving in a few minutes.” I beam with parental pride as two of my three kids appear with shoes on their feet. My moment is dashed when my son tells me that he cannot find his shoes. I was short tempered due to the culmination of moments of this kind. I responded in a harsh tone which sent my son off crying to find his missing shoes. A few minutes later I find his shoes by the back door. He puts his shoes on and we are finally ready to leave.

We headed toward the door when I realized I did not have my keys. I look in my purse and they are not there. Frustrated, I realized that no one could scold me for such irresponsibility. I am quite certain my son would have loved to have his shot. I find my keys in my coat and we are ready to go.

We headed toward the door once again. We are stopped in our tracks by a loud noise. Was it a plane? Was this the sound of the trumpet before rapture? No, it was my toddler screaming that she wanted to wear her pink princess shirt. I informed her that it was “bye bye” time. She informed me that what she was wearing was unacceptable. I took a deep breath and headed toward the laundry basket pretending not to see the tantrum. I grabbed the princess shirt and changed her. Now she was happy and we were ready to go.

We make it to the car where everyone gets buckled in their seats. I take another deep breath as I realized I forgot to grab my phone. I sat for a minute weighing the odds of leaving it behind. Then my mind is captured by the irrational thought that I may find myself in dire need of my cell. I headed back in the house. Even my dog looked at me with sympathy as I stumbled around to find my phone. I had my phone, my keys, my kids and I am finally ready to go.

We pulled into the grocery store parking lot. I was never so happy to see a parking lot in my life before. We head inside to get the business of grocery shopping done.

In the produce aisle, I heard another call of the wild. Low on patience and ready to pounce on my little cub I noticed it isn’t my child. Oh the joy! It was a little boy crying about lost a toy. I smiled and felt sympathetic for his little boy and his lost beloved toy. The mother was not as sympathetic. She harshly scolded him. It was obvious she had been down this road before. She was very upset and said a few unkind things which set her son off into more tears. I thought she was just terrible. That thought was betrayed by the thought that I was looking in a mirror. I had sympathy and patience for this little boy but none for my own and his missing shoe. I felt ashamed.

As we headed down the cereal aisle I saw another struggle between mother and child. The child insisted on some sugary cereal as the mother is desperately trying to hold her ground with an unexciting box of tan colored looking cereal. Finally the battle is over and the mother hung her head in defeat. I immediately think that she failed and never should have allowed her child to wear her down. Again, my thoughts betray me with images of a pink princess shirt. I felt ashamed once more.

I was not only ashamed by the judgment I placed on those mothers. I was ashamed because I grew slack on my responsibility with my own kids. After seeing myself through the lens the Lord provided in the grocery store I realized something. I had forgotten why I was raising my kids. Correction, why I was raising God’s beloved that he generously put in my care. I had become self centered in my quest to buy milk and bread. I was raising future servants of the King.
In Proverbs 22:6 it says, “Train a child up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” What was I training when I yelled because I was impatient or gave in because I was worn down? A parent needs to balance discipline and love in a way that trains children to love and obey the Lord. Our children are royalty in the making! How do you think God wants his beloved treated? We get so caught up in daily chores that we sometimes forget that every moment molds our children. We sometimes display the attitude that our children belong to us so we have the right to treat them as we see fit. Our children only belong to us because a loving God chose us to parent in his place. Wow! Think about that. Let that sink in for a moment. We are raising God’s beloved. Yes, there will be challenging moments that will make you want to pull your hair out. However, I think God is aware of those challenges. When those challenges arise we are to cling to His Word and His promises rather than lash out or give in due only to fatigue or frustration. Children look to parents like they are gods. After all, parents have the authority to take your game system away right? Think about how your heavenly Father treats you. Does He have patience for you when you stumble? Does He chastise for his benefit or yours? In Hebrews 12:10, we are told that God chastises for our profit and because of his love for us. Unless you are disciplining in the same spirit than the bully on the playground has nothing on you.

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