walking in our shoes: our role in shaping children

role modelIt struck me like a bolt of lightning.

I had left my shoes at the door like I always did. (For some insane reason, we had bought white carpeting for our first house. A pre-kids decision we regretted oh-so bitterly.)

But this time when I went to put them back on, my shoes were already occupied.

My firstborn, two years old at the time, had carefully placed her little shoes neatly inside mine.

All these years later, it’s still a vivid memory. It was the first time I fully absorbed the magnitude of my role as Mom.

I had the responsibility of modeling for another little person how they should behave. She was looking to me for guidance on how to navigate life and all its complications.

Whoa.

There’s no doubt we should take that role very seriously. But if we’re not careful, that weighty responsibility can feel like a pressure to be perfect.

That the happiness and well-being of shaping our children all rides on us making all the right decisions. Doing and saying all the right things.

That’s a lot of pressure.

And it’s a lie. But for years, that’s how it translated to my heart.

It took years for me to absorb the truth: Results are not my job. That’s up to Someone far wiser than I am. My job is just to be obedient.

What does “obedience” look like? Well, it’s certainly not a “perfect” science. I mess up often and daily. But, through the power of the Holy Spirit I’ve found it looks something like this:

Walking with God.Β  Spending regular time with Him. Relying daily on His wisdom, courage, discernment and insight as we mother our children.

Walking with Perseverance. Even when it gets really tough. Even when our kids fight against our boundaries. We have to keep fighting for their best interests — even when it’s costly, unpopular and inconvenient. And it often is.

Walking with Consistent Integrity. Do our actions match our words? Maybe not always. We’re human. But kids respect our willingness to admit our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. It lets them know that mistakes are allowed and God’s grace is always available to us — and them. Even though we mess up, our kids notice our consistent, but imperfect, attempt to live out our values.

Whew. Obedience is a tall order that requires the power of the Holy Spirit. But our ability to choose to obey — or not — is under our control.

On the other hand, we can’t control every choice our children make. We can influence. We can guide. Ultimately, however, we have to choose to trust them to their Heavenly Father — Who knows them far better than we do and Who promises that He will work everything for their good. (Romans 8:28) Even those ill-advised choices.

He doesn’t need me to do His job. Those shoes are far too big for me to fill.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5 (NLT)

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13 Comments

  • Yeah, we ripped out the light carpet in favor of laminate. πŸ™‚ But the lesson still stands. I love the idea that, when I feel incompetent, incomplete as a mom, I can take my shoes with my kid’s shoes inside them and put all of it in God’s universe-sized, “I’ve got you covered” shoes. Amen to that, friend.

    Reply
  • I’m divorced and have joint custody of our only son. We got divorced when he was 5. While I knew how important my role was… it became even more imperative to make sure Angel was loved and felt it. He’s 10 now and still loves to hug and cuddle, and he starting to become a gentleman by opening doors and being more helpful without being asked.

    I wasn’t so lucky with my own mother, but I think if you earnestly try to be good, do good, and give your child love and support, you will do well… even if you only have the most basic of necessities available.

    Reply
  • Love Love Love the encouragement every time I stop by. Walking after Jesus and they walk in my footsteps.

    I would be delighted as always to have you link up with Momma notes. Thanks for grace as I became momma to 6, its back up and running. I jot some notes on Monday. But you can link up any day. Just moms. Sharing our notes. Creating a melody.

    Happy day,
    Sarah

    Reply
  • I really need this reminder. I am in a place where I am taking my kids’ actions and attitudes too personally. I blame myself for their shortcomings and thank God for their goodness. I need to be more realistic about it and more gentle on myself!

    Reply
    • {Melinda} Oh, I have been there, Rabia! It is so hard not to take their attitudes and actions personally! But it only seemed to make things worse, because I’d react emotionally instead of rationally and with a calm mind. We are hard on ourselves. God is capable of using our mistakes for their good. Amazing. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  • Aw!! The shoes in the shoes…how adorable is that?! I love it! You are so right. If you think of the enormity of the task of being someones first and most influential example of how to behave. But in the end, they are making their own choices and we hope that we’ve taught them well. –Lisa

    Reply
    • {Melinda} Yep, I pray everyday that I’ve taught them well — imperfectly, but well. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • What a sweet post! And a random comment – I’d love to have white carpeting but with a parade of children and dogs in my house on a daily basis, that’s not going to happen for years, if ever. Because once the kids are grown there’s always grandchildren to think about. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • {Melinda} Thanks for stopping by, Melissa! Yes, the white carpet decision was one of those, “What could we have possibly been thinking?” moments! It looked great when it was first installed, but carpet is to be used not just looked at. That’s where the whole thing broke down! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Indeed, the only thing we can do is obey and pray! Our kids are definitely in charge of their own choices…and that’s a tough pill to swallow! Goodness knows I’d love to make their decisions for them, but I cannot. I am glad they have a Heavenly Father to guide them Who is a perfect example, because I definitely am not!

    Great post!

    Reply
    • {Melinda} Yes, Julie, I think our job is to continually point them to their Heavenly Father. We will always fail them at some point — no matter how much we love them. HE is perfect and unchangeable. He doesn’t get tired or moody. He always sees the whole picture. They’ll never go wrong if they keep looking to Him.

      Reply
  • Thank you for this reminder. Sometimes I think I can do a better job modeling for my kids. Actually I know I can. I do the best I can most of the time, but there are occasions I know I fall down.

    Reply
    • {Melinda} We all can do a better job, Michelle. I think that’s what plagues me most as a mother — my actions being consistent with my words. But we can only do the best we can and admit our mistakes along the way. I know my kids respect it when I do that — they’ve told me so.

      You’re a great mother, Michelle. I think the fact that we are so concerned about this stuff means that we have to be doing something right. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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i’m melinda

I PROVIDE WOMEN WITH RESOURCES FOR HEALING AND WHOLENESS

I’m a woman who was radically changed when the God I thought I knew since childhood opened my eyes to the overwhelming depth of His love for me. I love speaking, writing, and pointing women to the Father so they can experience for themselves the healing power of His incredible, captivating love.

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