Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trees in the Nursery: When Children Grow Up

by Danetta Kellar

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. -Psalm 1:1-3

When children first come, it seems childhood will last forever. 

The delightful stages, the difficult ones, all seem timeless. We hope our faithfulness will outweigh our failures in the end. We pray to one day see them like trees planted by streams of water, yielding fruit in season with leaves that will not wither.

For many years since my children were born, I have taken time at the beginning of each year to seek the Lord for them, setting goals for the upcoming year. It has been a reassuring exercise, a road map for the uncertainties of each season, a benchmark for growth as we look back time after time.

This year, as I spread out my familiar journal of years and goals, opening all the trusted resources I have used over the years for this important time of reflection and planning, I was distinctly aware that this time something was different. Halted by an impression that this year a list of tidy spiritual goals and character training were irrelevant, I paced the floor and tried to hear what God was saying to me. 

Placing their development in bullet-point style seemed so… last season. 

Somehow towering trees were blocking the sight of the familiar forest.

Towering trees with roots reaching deep. Spreading trees with branches lifting to the sun, arching over the soil in which we have plowed and toiled for years. No more saplings, these children. To my surprise and dismay, our nursery had become a forest.

I knew the next season would come but yet it disarmed me. 

Like a farmer who arrives in high summer with seed packets, water, fertilizer, and a hoe, I stood at this parenting crossroad and realized I brought all the wrong tools to the task. 

Thank goodness for words, and the ability to write them on a page. I filled page after page with my mother musings, my confusion, my longing for control, my mourning over the small stages that I had complained through sleep-deprived and smelling like spit-up. I prayed for God’s wisdom how to proceed with these little ones who are no longer so little. I looked at the lists I had made in former years. Potty training. Show him how to pray. Help her begin to understand that God has a plan for her life. Teach him to forgive his brother.

I talked with God about each one, and gave each child to Him once again

3,360 words later I paused the mad march of my fingers, the contents of my heart before the Lord.

This new year, this new season, seems so much more complicated. Letting go of the tight grip I have had on this parenting wheel seems reckless. What if we crash? I am not sure, after all, if the Truth we sowed so diligently in that heart really took root, am I, Lord? I need to micro-manage it, don’t I, just to be sure??? Without me making him, will he choose wisdom?

And what if I need more time with this one in a certain area? 

Letting our children have a choice to try on the truths we have taught them is frightening. 

Letting them possibly fail stops my breath right in my throat.

I still have one little one. But the big ones are towering high, their branches beginning to make shade even for me and their dad. Wisdom budding on their limbs like spring flowers. The fragrance of grace filling our house at the most unexpected moments. They are becoming young men.

This year my goals have changed. This farmer is exchanging seeds for support stakes,  
a long line of rope to hold them steady against the pull of the storm, and some skillful pruning shears. Fertilizer and plenty of water. 

Listen more.


Coach, don’t control. Give them more control over their own lives.

Encourage them and make your home a safe place from the noisy world.

Help them learn from the consequences of their decisions and be there for them when they need courage.

Trust that God will grow them and watch over them.

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