Parenting from rest

Life goes so much better when I'm rested.  The burning eyes and pounding heart of too-little-sleep make me excessively crabby, not so pleasant to be around. Coffee is no help at this point. Coffee only accentuates frayed nerves. Lately I've been getting more rest, or maybe just resting better, and it really does wonders.

It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For  so He gives His beloved sleep. ~ Psalm 127:2 NKJV

On this theme of rest again, I've been contemplating parenting.


When my kids were younger I liked to have a lot of rules in place, a lot of rewards and consequences and everything spelled out in black and white. This seemed like the easiest way to produce order and obedience, and to influence consistency on my part.

If I could just put the right rules in place, everything would fall into order and decisions would be automatic and peace would come. Right?

If love covers a multitude of sins, more rules only uncover what is lurking, waiting to pounce, eager to devour our orderly little lives. I finally learned this - probably more by frustration with not having my rules followed than by wisdom - but parenting from a list of shoulds and should-nots only increased my anxiety.

Shortening everything down to Love God, Love your Neighbor  has increased my ability to rest.

Parenting from rest must come from a security in God's work in myself and my children, from a daily throwing of myself and all my expectations at His feet.

But there are still insecurities.

The way my child is behaving at this moment is not necessarily indicative of the adult they will become. That's the fear I sometimes have, that the tantrum they are throwing or the fit they're pitching is exactly how they're going to respond at 30 when someone cuts them off on the freeway. Or that the selfishness/crabbiness/slothfulness of today is going to be the poverty of their adult years.

My children have moods and struggles and immature ways of dealing with dislikes and disappointments. I am mindful of them, I correct them, and I realize that I was that little girl thrashing her legs on the bed in a rage of 9 year-old fury. I was that teenager in her room with the door firmly shut to reason, the young adult who forgot to be thankful for gracious opportunities.

I only have to reflect on my own behavior, past and present, to realize the work of grace in each of us. Looking at my children's behavior today and projecting it into their future only accentuates my rule-keeping, anxious, white-washing tendencies.

I have to rest in the process God is taking us all through, none of us born mature or complete, all of us on a path of sanctification.

It is vain to stay up late with worry, to be anxious about things beyond my control, or to provide such a safe life that my children are unable to think for themselves. Our teenagers may feel like we try to keep them home 24/7, but they are stretching their borders more and more.

My husband and I are frequently bombarded with can I go? questions and dilemmas about new technology, books, friends. Every question is an opportunity to teach our kids to have dominion over those things that have the potential to overtake them.

Our tendency might be fear, but being afraid of new things or scared of change only handicaps us from taking charge.

Fear gives that thing power over me. Rest enables me to be secure, and when I parent from a place of rest I am in the place of authority and stewardship God has given me - no more, no less.

Rather than simply being a reactor to all of life's curves and disappointments, parenting from rest reminds me that it is God who is in control.

O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. {Psalms 16:5-9 NKJV}

What aspect of parenting causes you the most anxiety? What ways are you learning to parent from a place of rest?