You know the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees”? Sometimes I feel that way in my parenting role. I stay so intently focused on the “bad” things that my children are doing that I forget to see the good things. I tend to dwell on all the negatives surrounding me and my whole perspective on life becomes one of negativity and discontentment (wishing for something different). I believe God uses parenting to remind us that His will for us is to rejoice and be thankful in ALL things. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Wait! Hold the phone! How am I supposed to rejoice and be thankful when my three-year-old pulls things off the shelf at the store or my one-year-old screams the whole time while I’m trying to make a phone call? How am I supposed to lift up prayers of thanksgiving when my child wakes me in the middle of the night or my child argues with me about doing school work? It is extremely hard, but I believe this is where our obedience to God’s will is rewarded.
If we will stop focusing on the individual “trees” (i.e. the negatives, the battles, the difficulties) and take a minute to step back, take a deep breath and look at the beauty of the “forest” (our beautiful blessings from God) we will begin to allow God to change our heart. As we begin to thank Him for His amazing gifts He has blessed us with, our perspective begins to shift and we begin to see our situations differently. We begin to have “peace that surpasses all comprehension” (Phil 4:6-7) when we put our trust in Him, praying in every situation with a spirit of thanksgiving. How awesome is that picture! In the middle of chaos, we can have peace that is greater than we can even understand. Oh, that’s what I want! – Peace that washes away every fear or doubt or negative thought. I am so grateful for a God who loves me enough to provide exactly what I need so that I can be the parent He has called me to be.
Now, is it easy to be thankful and pray continually? No! –Being thankful takes practice and is something that doesn’t come easily. Some days are easier than others, and the more we practice and commit to change our mindset, the easier it becomes. I challenge you to try to find one thing about each of your children EVERYDAY that you are thankful for and then rejoice with God over whatever it is. My guess is that you can find many things to be thankful for, but in the moment when you find yourself among the trees, sometimes one thing is enough to help you see the forest.
Parenting is hard but God is faithful and will help us as we commit to pray, repent, deny ourselves and be thankful as He continues to chisel away the rough edges in our lives in order that we maybe set apart and made pure. 1 Thessalonians says, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (5:24)