And I’m pretty sure that’s just what God wants me to do.
To cease striving.
To stop trying so darn hard.
To halt all activity.
Well, maybe not all activity, but at least in one area, family bonding. Now, before you start thinking that I’m pro-division or anti-family dinners, let me explain.
Over the last several months I have tried really hard to add some fun family activities to our schedule. As a recently singled mom, fun and recreation haven’t exactly been on the top of my priority list because other things like post-divorce adjustments, emotional healing, and full-time employment have come first. But now that we are making some headway in theses areas, I had hoped to create some new memories for the girls and myself.
First, I bought tickets to a Rockies baseball game when a neighborhood boy came to the door fundraising for his team. Then, I rallied some friends to attend a Casting Crowns concert because my girls had never before experienced the scenic Red Rocks amphitheater. Finally I bought tickets to a high school musical in which one of my daughter’s friends had a starring role.
And for various reasons, we weren’t able to go to a single one of these events.
So I give up!
Striving, the act of struggling vigorously, is not only exhausting, it’s also ineffective. I know that I am striving in my own ways rather than working in God’s ways when, like now, nothing is working out.
But I am scared not to strive. At a time when my family is broken apart it seems more important than ever that we stick together. I want us to love God together. I want us to look to God together. I want us to make new memories together because good Christian families always eat dinner together, attend church together, and have devotionals together, right? They do things TOGETHER.
But at our house my teenagers have jobs and activities that keep them from dining at home every night. My girls have softball tournaments on Sundays and youth groups at other churches that keep us from worshipping together every weekend. And the family devotional thing has never happened for us. So what’s a mom to do?
Let go and let God.
So cliché, but in this case, so true. I need to let go of three things in particular.
- I need to let go of my fear that I am all alone as a parent. When I am in striving mode, I believe the lie that if I don’t act, then “it”–in my case, family bonding–will never happen, because “it”s all up to me. I act like a spiritual orphan, without a loving Father to help, even though I know that’s not true. The truth is, no matter how I feel, I am not alone. God is with me and my children and He is always at work to make things happen.
- I need to let go of the idea that I can fix my broken family. As a problem-solver striving to improve things, I tend to think that I can figure this “how-to-heal-us-and-bond-us” problem all by myself, but clearly I can’t even be the glue that holds us together. I need to remember that my job as a mom is to support and love my children, not to fix them. I am not the savior of my family, Jesus is.
- I need to let go of what I think our family SHOULD look like, because when I get an idea in my mind of the way things SHOULD be, then I take the lead and strive to make things happen. To counter this temptation, I am going to ask God what He wants for us right now, since that seems to be different than what I want. I am going to let Him guide, lead, and tell me what to do in this area of family bonding, because as I think back, the times that I have let go of my ways and followed His ways have always been easier and more effective.
So, I am going to pause all my efforts to keep us close and let God tell me what He wants us to do, which is scary and kind of embarrassing–because you might think I am an apathetic mom—but it’s the only way I know to trust Him and get God-sized results. I am going to step back and let God build our relationships in His way and in His time. I am going to be looking for His opportunities for us to bond, but I am going to trust Him with my family, our memories, and most of all, our hearts.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
By Dale Skram
Mom of four
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
real.life.speaker, real.faith.writer, and real.life.coach