Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pass it on

Yesterday I took my youngest son to the eye doctor. It turns out he's nearsighted, a revelation that came as no real surprise given that his daddy, his mommy and all three of his brothers are as well. Part of me hoped that since he alone has blond hair he alone might have good eyesight. Not so. Genetics is an amazing deal.

Just as my husband and I have passed on to our sons what has been passed on to us, namely poor eyesight, we pass on other things as well. Biological legacies to be sure, but we also pass on some of our mannerisms and habits and quirks of personality, both good and bad. I can often hear my husband's voice in my son's or detect his same facial expressions in theirs.

My oldest son is careful and methodical and not very funny, much like his mom. He is also enamored by gadgets and the "stuff" of his given obsession hobby, much like his dad. I can draw similar delineations with my other boys. My second son is silly and fiercely competitive, much like his daddy. And he is...well...I'm not sure what I've passed on to him so it might be safe to presume it is not necessarily the best part of me that is reflected in him.

That's the rub, is it not? Seeing the worst of ourselves repeated in our kids? Oh, to be sure, one of the most surprising and comforting aspects of parenting is the realization that our kids are resilient. I can't tell you how often I have prayed for my kids to know and love the Lord Jesus despite me. I know my testimony before them and I know they will not do so because of me. They've forgiven and forgotten most of my mess up's, thanks be to God. They're great kids, but not because they have a great mom.

I used to think raising kids was much like baking a cake--all that was required of me was to follow the directions and poof! out would come the cake / kid of my choice, as if I could somehow make my son into the image of my choosing merely by doing all the "right" things.

Certainly there are any number of recipes others will tell us to follow, from reading to your children every night to spanking (or not). As an insecure young mom (as opposed to the insecure old mom I am today), I tried hard to follow every recipe I was given. That is, I until I realized (1) it was impossible to follow every recipe and (2) there are no guarantees.

I'm not saying it doesn't matter what we do nor that we have no influence. It does matter greatly and our influence is enormous. I am saying that motherhood is easily the hardest thing I've ever done I'm still doing. I can truly say that the greatest blessings of my life--as well as the greatest heartaches--have come to me as a mom.

Very often I plead with the Lord for the promise of Isaiah 54:13, "All yours sons will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children's peace." I ask Him to fill in the blanks even as I beg Him to equip me for the daunting and impossible task of raising a generation of godly men for His kingdom's glory.

I do not know what my legacy will be to my children. To some of them I have passed on my serious nature, to others my bursts of anger. I wish this were not so. Can we choose what we pass on? Am I able to determine my legacy? If yes, it would be this: that my boys would love the Lord Jesus with their lives, finding in Him the only Treasure worth having. May they see everything else--all the promises and pleasures of this world--as rubbish in comparison to knowing and serving Him.

8 comments:

  1. Wonderfully said.

    I've already told my children to send me the therapy bills when they grow up. I'm sure my parenting warrants a few sessions on the couch!

    Seriously, I've prayed similar prayers for my children, that God would "fill in the gap" where I've failed to fill and to replace my sinful mistakes with his grace that covereth...

    simply covereth.

    So far, we're good. I think. I haven't heard from my college son in a couple fo days. I think I will call him.

    peace~elaine

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  2. Aaah, the blessing and curse of legacy. I share your prayer for my own sons. May they be His godly men.

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  3. Already at just 5 years old I see so much of myself in my daughter that it's frightening! We're not talkin' about all good stuff! I pray the same for her and my other children, that God will use them for His glory despite my often-less-than-godly influence.

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  4. Your post really spoke to me and encouraged me today. Thank you.
    I often quake at the thought of my influence on my children and pray that even though I am so flawed and sinful, they will see Jesus and love Him more and more. Only by His amazing grace could that even be a possibility!

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  5. I couldn't agree more. I wish I had this concept when my children were younger. Somedays I feel as though I wasted the early years, but God keeps reminding me that he uses the foolish.
    God's word teaches me that he will complete the work that was begun and I stand on that everyday for my family.
    Blessings, Cindy

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  6. Sometimes I shudder to think what I'm passing along to my girl. I definitely see some of my worst traits (perfectionism, impatience) in her. More than anything, though, I pray when she is older & thinks of me, she thinks of a woman who loves Jesus passionately. Which makes me realize I need to be displaying that more!

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  7. Beautifully said. I so often pray that God would fill in all the gaps that my parenting leaves behind, and that my example does as well. I praise him for his incredible grace!

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