I stood in the yard with the garden hose in hand. The mosquitoes started to come out in swarms, and I slapped my arms a few times in an effort to fend them off. As the water soaked the roots of our drooping hydrangeas, I couldn’t help but think, “This is what parenting feels like sometimes.”
I rarely do anything in the yard, but that night, standing outside in the quiet helping something grow felt satisfying. After a long day thanks to no naps, lots of activity, and 90+ degree heat, my daughter melted down. She was exhausted. I was exhausted. We are both strong-willed and impatient. It was the perfect storm.
She eventually settled down after quite a bit of effort on my husband’s part. I tucked her in bed, and we proceeded with our usual bedtime routine. Two or three songs, prayer, and kisses. Asking for stuffed animals or sips of water, needing to go potty, tucking in her baby doll, and a host of other interruptions, too. But we made it to the end of the night, our prayers once again including a plea for forgiveness.
My weary little girl fell asleep nearly by the time I left the room. I slipped out, walked downstairs, and slid my feet into my sandals. I headed to the backyard to try to give a little life back to the plants.
The roots needed water. Roots need to grow deep. They aren’t colorful or pretty, and sometimes watering the roots means you’re drenched by sweat from the humid summer and dotted with mosquito bites. I also needed to prune the dead branches off, weed around the perimeter, and layer on mulch (which I don’t even think we’ll get to this year). None of that is pretty work. None of it yields immediate results. None of it is necessarily fun.
Right now, and probably for many years to come, my job as a parent is to water the roots. My job is to prune and weed and tend and then simply see what God does. I fear I’ll overwater. I fear I won’t water enough. I fear my brown thumb isn’t just in gardening, but it’s in motherhood, too.
Yet God doesn’t just work despite me. He works through me. He allows me to take part in caring for my children and gives me the joy of stewarding them.
But I am not the one who will make them grow. When he writes to the church in Philippi, Paul says:
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:8-11 (CSB)
How many of us can relate to Paul’s yearning for those he loved to grow in their relationship with God? I understand this more as a parent now than I ever have. How many of us desire that our children will bear “the fruit of righteousness”? Sometimes I wonder if that fruit will ever come — not even so much in my kids’ lives but in my own. I still yell when I shouldn’t. I still lose my patience. I still doubt God. I still am so utterly faithless in comparison to an infinitely faithful God. The fruit seems elusive.
A few verses prior, Paul says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Sometimes we have seasons when it feels like there’s little fruit from our labor. It’s exhausting and heartbreaking and mundane, and long days seem filled with frustration or even failure. But friends, we can take heart. As we plant and water, we can put our hope in our God to give the growth. We can lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees. We can rest from anxious toil and trust that God’s not done with our kids.
And He’s not done with us, either.
As we plant and water, we can put our hope in our God to give the growth. We can rest from anxious toil and trust that God’s not done. - Sarah J. Hauser: Click To Tweet