Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
I’ll begin with an honest admission: I like rules. I share in the opening chapter of our book that my nightmare assignments in school days were those with an open structure. Options? No, thank you. I prefer guidelines and no-fail directions toward certain success.
I expected the rules I’d heard for parenting a new baby to lead to that neat-and-tidy success found by so many. Instead, they didn’t work for me or my baby, and I lived for a time in terror over the implications of what that failure would mean.
As Megan shared yesterday at O My Family, one of the bonds that deepened our friendship and led us to write this book was that we both entered parenthood bound as slaves to fear. Our purpose in sharing our tear-stained stories is to encourage others navigating life with an infant, inviting them to the pursuit of another way.
When we live in fear, we resist the freedom that serves as a banner proclaiming the presence of the Spirit. Yet Megan and I each found that in spite of our resistance, God beckoned us through the heartache of frustration and failure and offered us an approach to caring for our babies that we desperately wish we had known from the very beginning. He was calling us into freedom.
- Freedom to follow His lead first and foremost in our parenting.
- Freedom to trust in the example of God’s Father heart, Christ’s call to servanthood, and the Spirit’s constant presence as we care for our babies.
- Freedom to extend grace to those who parent differently, knowing that our Lord leads us individually, according to His flawless will and timing, to answers perfectly suited to our families.
- Freedom to fail - understanding that perfect parenthood is unattainable, believing that God’s redemptive grace covers our missteps, and seeing our insufficiency as opportunity for our surrender and His refinement.
It was a rocky road, learning to live out what He offered. But as we began to let go, we gained something unexpected: a deepening perspective on the glorious, mysterious paradox of dying to self and gaining abundant life. As two control-loving, perfection-seeking new mothers each woke from a fear-driven haze, we discovered that the cost of our new freedom in parenthood was not at all what we’d expected.
Where once we believed we would find spoiled children and splintered marriages in the wake of our decisions to turn from the loud-and-popular advice, we found instead our own expectations and desires bowed low. Where we once held fast to the notion that the “right” methods of baby-care would bring success, we learned that releasing our expectations gave us the freedom to truly follow the Spirit’s lead in every area of our lives.
It’s an approach that welcomes an often messy journey. One that comes with sacrifice, as is always the case when we pursue a life of serving God and others. It may mean less predictability and more time. It may bring the uncomfortable realization that you are parenting off the beaten path, if that path where He has led some is not where He is leading you. It may mean laying down that precious sense of control.
Living and parenting in freedom is a daily – and often difficult – choice. We have heard from countless new parents through the years at different points in the journey, and believe that safe and honest discussions can encourage one another along the way. Will you share your thoughts here today?
What aspects of parenting in freedom appeal most to you, and which do/did you find most uncomfortable or hardest to embrace? How has God used your role as a parent for your own spiritual growth, or how do you suspect He may want to do so?
Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.