....and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...Hebrews 12:1b NAS
...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, NIV
...and let us run with patience this race that is set for us. ABPE
Yesterday I babysat for my neighbor's 3 month old daughter. She is a breastfed baby, which I personally think is awesome, but presents a problem when the child refuses to take a bottle and Mom must work. As I held her she was angry for two reasons; she was hungry and she didn't want that bottle!! At least she didn't think she did. She had to make a choice: eat what she was given or be hungry. I held her close, whispered to her that she could do this, kissed her forehead and prayed, the whole time holding that bottle securely in her mouth. Just before she latched on and started to drink these words floated gently through my mind: "You have to do what's best for them." I knew that voice so well!! The Father was speaking to my heart and I responded with repentance. I told Him that we, His children, are just like the baby. We want one thing, but He knows there is something we need more that is better. He holds on to us as we kick and scream, but out of his great love for us, he keeps the bottle in our mouth. We must choose. Do we keep on screaming and refuse to eat, or do we gratefully latch on and become filled? What does all this have to do with running the "race set before us?" Read on...
Everyone has their own personal race to be run before almighty God. As a parent and grandparent who adores children, I have difficulty watching others struggle in their race. I tend to want to jump in and run it for them. When one of my daughters-in-law was in labor for the first time (I was blessed to be able to be in the birthing room with all three of the grandchildren she bore us) she cried out, "I can't do this!" I took her hand and looked her in the eye and said, "If I could, I would do this for you, but I can't. You CAN do this and you will." I meant those words 100%. We hate to see those we love hurting! But if I could have and did take over for her, she would never have experienced that overwhelming joy of giving birth. I would have robbed her of that amazingly awesome experience and she may have not wanted to give us the other two!! It was best for her to do the birthing.
When we see our children struggling as they get older, it is hard not to step in and take over. We know what to do, because we have been there, done that. We have to stop and think about how we would NOT know what to do if we hadn't gone through it and then allow them to make their own mistakes. We can give advice, which may be accepted or rejected, but we must not run their race for them. In so doing, we may be screamed at, lied about and even told we are hated, but as long as we keep assuring them of our love and that they CAN make it through this whatever it may be, when they DO get through it, they will be grateful, stronger and more knowledgeable for it.
Being a parent and grandparent is wonderful, amazing and joy giving. It is also heartbreaking at times, because we see mistakes being made and want to "fix them" or prevent them if possible. We must remember that they have a race before God they must run, as do we. If we try to run their race for them, not only are we robbing them of completing their race, but we keep ourselves from running our own. "You have to do what's best for them." How God's heart must ache for us. He has EVERY answer. He has given us those answers in His word; His "advice" to us in the form of commands for living. He gave us promises to go with those words, yet we want to run our race our own way, so we get off track and end up taking the "long way round."
I have made many mistakes as a parent. We all do. I can either sit around bemoaning the fact, or learn from it. Learning from it makes me a better grandparent, but still not perfect. One day I may be a great grandparent. Perhaps by then I will be better. Actually, by then I will most likely be unable to even try to run someone else's race for them. And that will be a blessing.