Get Them in the Ark
How to Be a Mom in 2017: Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to overstimulate, under stimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free, two story, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development. Also don’t forget the coconut oil.
How to Be a Mom in Literally Every Generation Before: Feed them sometimes.
A friend shared this popular meme with me the other day. Much as I hate to admit it, I could relate, as nearly everything listed in the 2017 mom category is something that has gone through my mind as a parent of three children.
In our overstimulated, fast-paced, technology-driven world, it is way too easy to obsess over “perfecting” every minute detail of our children’s lives, from enrolling them into the best school to finding the best coach for their extracurricular activities (regardless of whether or not they show promise of being Olympic athletes). It is nearly impossible to keep track of everything, much less stay on top of it all. Needless to say, I have a lot of “mom failure” moments.
Recently, I was throwing myself a pity party about my latest failure when a friend looked at me and bluntly stated, “Emily, you just need to get them in the ark.” My confused look must have been enough of a reply. She continued, “Go back to the story of Noah. He is obedient to God in building the ark. Then God commands him to get everyone (his family and 2 of every living creature) inside. Once they are all inside, God is the one who closes the door and saves them all. Not Noah. That is your only job as a parent – get them in the ark.”
Mind blown. Mic drop. Whatever it is the kids say these days.
I had never looked at the story of Noah and the ark from the perspective of Noah as a parent, but I was desperate to get a better grasp of what getting them in the ark actually entailed. After trying to make it more complicated than it was, I deduced that “getting them in the ark” simply means:
1. Shelter them.
Start with the basics. In Genesis, God commands Noah, “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark and cover it inside and out with pitch.” In other words, provide for your children a safe shelter to protect them from the storms.
2. Feed them, physically and spiritually.
God then commands Noah, “Take with you every sort of food that is eaten and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Simply stated, feed your children when they are hungry. Yes, I am speaking in terms of physical and spiritual hunger. Teach them about the gospel— all about God’s great sacrifice, mercies, grace and love for us. Even from a young age, it is amazing what our children are able to absorb and understand.
3. Be Obedient.
So why did Noah build the ark and load it with food? Because God commanded him to. In the four chapters about Noah and the ark, the Bible states “Noah did all that God commanded” four times.
We need to be obedient to God even when it means going against the cultural norms of this day and age. We need to seek HIM in all decisions related to the health and well-being of our children. For they do not belong to us but to HIM.
I know: easier said than done. Seek the Lord in your weakness.
4. Trust in our Lord.
Trust in HIM and HIM alone. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I know it is hard to imagine, but God loves our children more than we do. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) He knows what is best for us all. Trust in Him and His plan for the lives of our children.
5. Provide Love and Direction.
This one should come naturally, as we were created to love one another.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12-13)
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” (1 John 4:7)
Invite your children to experience the love of God through your love of them and others around you. Explain to them that love is a gift from God. Point them back to the cross in all things.
This list is about 1/100th of the daily checklist that goes through my mind regarding my children. But it is the ONE list I should be focused on and remind myself about daily. For at the end of the day, seeking and being obedient to HIM in raising our children is the only thing that matters. I wish I could say that we live in “ark mode” every day. We don’t. It is constant battle and struggle for me.
Just yesterday, I found myself obsessing over my daughter’s homeroom class list for school. She does not have any close friends in her new homeroom. Would this be a problem all year? Would she make new friends? Would those new friends be a good influence or a bad one? I even called my husband and mom in a panic. Then, I stopped myself and prayed, “I know you have got this, Lord. Please, help me focus solely on loading my kids into the ark today.” And just that small prayer helped me maintain perspective of what is important in their lives.
As we start back to school, I pray that you take a deep breath and focus on simply getting your kids into the ark. Don’t let the craziness and pressure get to you. Seek HIM, and he will give you the grace and strength needed for this season of parenting.
“For My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And, I pray the Lord blesses you with friends and a community that continually point you back to Jesus and His Word. For we are all sinners, unworthy but grateful recipients of the love of our Lord Jesus, desperately in need of daily (or more accurately hourly) reminders of His greatness and power.