When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.
- Maya Angelou
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
For anyone who has a child, the thought of perfect parenting elicits a range of emotions, from joy to discouragement to outright terror.
We all hope we’ll be good parents, but most of us expect to fail in some ways. And every parent I’ve ever spoken with lives in fear of being such a bad parent they warp their child permanently.
We have three grown sons, so the intense time of parenting is past. Sure we still give advice to our kids–when asked–but for the most part, we’re finished.
Looking back at my own parenting journey was scary at first. I expected to be faced with regrets and remorse as the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" scenarios presented themselves. But the process of evaluation wasn’t nearly as terror inducing as I expected, and I’d like to share some of the insights I gained.
The most important part was where I stood as I looked back. I chose to view the past while standing beside God. By that I mean I prayed before I began and asked him to share his perspective on my journey as a parent. The things he showed me were not at all what I’d expected.
God chose my husband and me as the parents for our boys before the beginning of time. And he did it knowing the mistakes we’d make, as well as the parts we’d get right. He used us, good and bad, to help shape our kids as they grew. I’d never considered the life of a parent from that vantage point before–that God chose us as much for our weaknesses as for our strengths.
Does that absolve us of guilt where we’ve been wrong? Absolutely not; we still need to make it right and ask for forgiveness. But it gives me a hint that perhaps God is true to his word and can bring good out of bad.
The other thing God shared with me was that perfect parents don’t guarantee perfect kids. I could have done every single thing right as a mother and because of free will, any of my sons could have chosen the wrong path.
How do I know this is true? Because God is perfect and look how we turned out. He did everything right, but we still choose to go our own way.
So when you look back (or ahead) as a parent–even a parent of a soldier–remember that your child’s future isn’t in your hands. God’s got this, and he always has.
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.