Prayer for the weary parent

[Also posted at Internet Café today]

Lord, I am so tired.

Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. Awed by their perfection. Humbled by the powerful emotions they bring out in me. Honored to be given the chance to be part of their life, to be in a position to influence and teach and guide.

But at the same time, I’m weary. It’s hard to be a parent, to make decisions that aren’t easy and won’t make me popular. It’s difficult to enforce the rules, day after day, to monitor behavior and ask them to pick things up and remind them to do homework and to not take it personally every time they resist. To not be hurt by disrespect and disagreement and rebellion, whether large or small.

It’s exhausting, constantly fighting to get my kids to see reason. It’s challenging to know that I can’t make all their choices for them. I can’t protect them from bad decisions, I can’t ensure they never face harsh consequences, and I can’t do everything for them.

And really, I don’t want to. I offered them to You when they were born, and I trust You to lead them and take care of them. I want them to learn from their experiences and I believe they are strong enough, smart enough, and capable enough to succeed (in all the different kinds of ways we measure success). I don’t want to overstep my bounds. As my friend Lisa told me once, our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job. To teach our kids what they need to know to live. To love. To respect and honor and obey and be productive.

And to lean on You. Because if there is one thing I do know, it is that life is hard. Even when it looks like we have it all together. The only way to get through is to turn towards You, to allow You to teach us individually, personally, in whatever ways we each learn best.

So, Lord, help me lean on You today. Let my kids see that even though I’m not perfect, my mistakes are made out of a desire to protect them, which stems from the amazing depths of the love a parent feels for a child. Let them see that, no matter what they face, it’s better to go through it with You than without You. You can lift the burdens which are too heavy, and enrich the good moments beyond measure. You will shine light into the darkness that they will inevitably face. You will reveal that which is a mystery in the right time. You will endure that which seems too hard to bear. And You will emerge victorious, with them by Your side.

While I wait, while I watch them develop into the people You knew they would become, let me be gracious. Let me cheer them on and not drag them down. Let me hold my tongue when they need to listen instead for You. Let me be a safe place for them to return, an unending source of love to come home to. Restore my weary soul, physically and emotionally. Remind me that You are in control so I don’t have to be. Show me how to relinquish my grasp on their lives and live in faith, how to turn my worrying into prayer.

As You help them grow, do the same for me. Because if anyone understands the turmoil of a parent’s love for a child, it is You. If anyone knows what it means to watch our kids go through hard things and not step in, it is You. If anyone understands the unending, deep and passionate and desperate love we feel, it is You.

The enormity of that takes my breath away, and I know once again the complete truth: We could not be in better hands. Thank You, Jesus. I love You.

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