Dissecting my wishes, I realise that I would like them to be a more advanced version of myself. To have evolved to be less sinful, less broken, less young. I actually want instant, unearned maturity.
My anxiety about this leads to catastrophizing...
One evening, a bedtime conversation,
- 'Mum I don't want to pray. It's boring.'
- pause... 'Don't you believe in God?' (Anxiety talking)
- 'Of course I believe in God, how would we even be here if there wasn't God.'
- 'True.' Smile, relieved and sheepish.
These babies entrusted to me are on a journey through life. I am helping them along, but it is their journey. Daily routines, chance happenings, words in passing are forming the path they tread. I recall that there were incidental bedtime conversations, childish tantrums and playground experiences that made me.
Helpless baby to independent adult progresses slowly, as we are shaped, wounded and refined into our grown up selves. I can refresh them, equip them, soothe them on their way but I cannot teleport them to their final destination, nor would it help them. I can tell them stories of my travels, and point them to the map that has served me well, but I cannot even choose their ultimate destination.
And, yet we also journey as a family. We build a home, a pattern around following Jesus. Build him deep in the foundation, so his grace may seep up into the brickwork, the air we breath, rest welcoming on the table that we share. But the anxiety can distract me from the daily, repetitive business of showing love and grace.
Wishing for maturity, seeing childish, broken behaviour as a sign of faulty parenting, is tied to the false hope of an evolving humanity. It assumes that society is getting 'better', that we are becoming more civilised. Don't believe that lie, I tell myself. Let your children be young, be ready to learn, to be unformed in character, be immature. The journey will shape them, the spirit will breathe on them. God will look after them.