How to Parent Foolishly

Twenty-one years old, I sat holding my six-day-old baby. I realized that, quite frankly, I had made a mess of my life up to now. The only thing I had gotten right so far was convincing this wonderful man next to me that I was a catch worth keeping, and somehow got him to marry me!

I was a handful as a kid — smart-mouthed and cute enough to talk my way out of most scrapes. I had walked through life about as gracefully as a bull in a china shop. Politely “released” from boarding school in 7th grade, I figured out quickly that what book smarts I lacked could be made up for with a bright smile and a vivacious personality. I returned to that same all-girls school as a sophomore and eventually graduated by the skin of my teeth but not without wreaking complete havoc on all the staff of the boarding department and breaking enough of the “polite young lady rules” to cast me into a dungeon of despair. Outwardly, the light still shined brightly, but inwardly, the darkness was enveloping me.

The sins of my past came haunting as I stared into Daly Kay’s perfectly innocent newborn face.

Oh, God.

Please help.

I can’t allow her to feel these same pains I have brought upon myself. As I looked into her dark little eyes, the blackness of my own sins flooded my heart. Every mistake, every inflicted wound brought on by such foolish, youthful stupidity paraded itself in front of me as I beheld my precious daughter’s beauty. All her purity seemed to only deepen my dirtiness.

Then I was reminded of all the times my mother had said, “I hope when you have a daughter, she is just like you!” Bless my mother’s heart; she didn’t mean that in a good way. She was hoping I would have some handful of a kid that would drive me just as nuts as I had driven her. At the time, I believed “bad parenting karma” was definitely out to get me. I was in big trouble.

So I shot forth a prayer to a God I barely knew and believed He would hear me.

It wasn’t fancy.

“Please God, don’t let me screw this up!”

Hot tears were streaming down my face, covering Daly Kay’s little cheeks. Call it postpartum baby blues, deliriousness, sleep deprivation or the perfect cocktail of all three, but the reality was that I believed I needed to have been a good kid to get a good kid.

If that was true, I was doomed from the start. God knows, I wasn’t a good kid. Not even close.

And now, here I was, just a young mom with a desperate desire to do this job right.

 

Finding purpose

God did hear me that day. Having Daly Kay is what brought me back to God, igniting a purpose that I didn’t realize existed within me.

Having my first child taught me that the Creator of the Universe wants to hear from us! He isn’t looking for perfection in us either. He isn’t even waiting around for us to be good. He just wants a relationship with us. If you are reading this article, odds are you love your kids enough to know you don’t have all the answers. Like me, you just don’t want to screw this up, this being the lives of our children. This being the responsibility we have in preparing our children to face the world. It’s a frightening prospect, I’ll admit it. It scared the hell out of me for sure — quite literally.

I have seen it over and over again. God draws the hearts of many parents nearer to Him by the love they feel for their children.

He says to us, “See how much you love that child? Multiply that by infinity, and you get a small glimpse of how I feel about you!” Understanding this should give us boldness.

 

God chooses the foolish

Here we are, twenty years and sixteen kids later. I have now come to believe God wants to do amazing things through all of our children, in our families and in our nation. I have learned He chooses the “foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

That’s good news, folks! It means that if we’re feeling stupid and weak when it comes to this whole parenting gig, we’re probably exactly the kind of family He wants to use.

Parenting is hard, and there are not tricks or shortcuts to success. But I’m fighting alongside you…right there in the trenches with you…as we battle in faith and through the challenges that raising up this next generation entails. You’re not alone. We are a growing army of parents working and praying for the common good of our children and our nation’s future.

What you’re doing…everyday…the diapers, the homework, the sports…it’s all a beautiful sacrifice worth above and beyond the most precious jewels.

And don’t worry…He’s got your back (Isaiah 58:8).

The Lord is with you and for you. I’ve experienced this first hand over the last two decades as a mother. His mercies are new every day. My prayer over twenty years ago, “Please God, don’t let me screw this up,” was answered not in me becoming a perfect parent because as any parent will admit, we screw it up plenty. The truth is, even though I mess up daily, He never does! He is faithful even when we are faithless.

 

Lyette Reback, now a mother of 16, shares the lessons God has revealed to her and her family about parenting in her new book, “Please God, Don’t Let Me Screw This Up.” The book is not about how perfectly David and Lyette have parented, but about the amazing lessons and adventures that God has taught them through raising their family. Follow her blog at believewithme.com.

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