Updated: Feb 9, 2020
Seasons change and becoming a Parent changes everything. Here are some lessons I've learned along the way...
Identity & My Personhood
I Am An Individual Apart From My Spouse & My Children
When God created man, He created him as an individual first, and then he went on to create other relationships institutions. This was an example to us that although relationships are extremely important to mankind, our individuality and relationship with God takes precedence over all other relationship in our lives. In fact, it is in the person of God that we find our person, our identity and our very being. He is our source of life and without him we cannot function properly or efficiently. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to our purpose and our understanding of who he created us to be. He is our life source, our very source of Hope. I have heard it said that a person can live up to 3 days without water and 21 days without food, but no one can live a minute without hope. Wether we are aware of it or not we desperately need God. HE IS our lifeline. Take a look at Acts 17:28,
For in him we live (we find life- hope) and move (purpose) and have our being (our personhood, whom he created us to be).As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring(identity).
Our individuality (our being/personhood) with God is completely set apart from any other relationship or title we might have. When we become parents, it's easy to lose our individuality in the midst of our responsibilities. With the understanding that God gave us through His example of creation, we need to be careful not to place false expectations on ourselves, and gain wisdom on how God designed us to function as an individual.
We were created to be able to express a part of God and we express that through our individuality. When we suppress our individuality we can fall into depression or an identity crisis. Part of our overall growth is the ability to understand how, and who God created us to be; apart from our roles.
Roles and Identity
Our identity and our being is found apart from our roles. Our roles are a gift from God that help us to express our individual purpose through the work and boundaries that created for us within our roles. But our roles; including that of parenthood, does not define us. Jesus defines us. We are first and will always be His offspring. Being an offspring of God is eternal while our roles on earth, are temporary. Therefore we should seek the Lord to make sure that we can fulfill our purposes on earth diligently while having the correct lenses on; that we are first sons and daughters of the living God. All work should flow from this deep and personal knowledge of where we stand with Christ.
We find ourselves & our limitations as we press on to know our creator. This is the reason why guarding our time with God, and by ourselves is of great importance. God uses His presence and the things we like to do to refresh us. Our refreshment is important for the health and vitality of our relationships.
If you have neglected this part of your life, and you're feeling depressed, get alone with God. Ask him for help, guidance, and wisdom to order your days. Then, approach your spouse and work out a fair schedule, so that both of you can have time alone with God and by yourself. God is a good Father, and you are His child. If you ask Him, He will help you to find creative ways in which you can decompress and express whom He created you to be.
Note: There are seasons & days in parenting, that we do not get much time to ourselves. This is what makes those seasons and days hard. In those busy and trying seasons, we are invited to find our joy and rest in Gods presence. On these days, practice quietness & stillness in God's presence, not as an obligation, but as a relief. You can do this by giving yourself some time away from the noise in your life (conversations, cell phones, T.V., music, or anything else that interferes with your ability to communicate and think about God and His Word.)
"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"
"Works" Based Relationship
In the midst of all the things that we parents do, it's easy to base our relationships on work. God gives us the example in His word that a "works" based relationship is burdensome. That is the reason why many people shun away from parenthood and begin to resent their roles, their life, and their children. I was one of these people. I resented parenting for a long time because I felt it placed a heavy burden on me. Don’t get me wrong, parenting is hard! But, I made it harder as I burned myself out with the many unrealistic expectations I placed on myself; and then blamed God for it.
People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.
- Proverbs 19:3
The weight from my false expectations led me down a miserable path. And being miserable forced me to come face to face with reality. I needed to learn to receive the freedom of God in my life. I prayed earnestly to understand this freedom, and God answered my prayer. The Lord is now teaching me to enter His rest. And He is also teaching me to have fun!
When we base our relationships on work, we will not enjoy much of it. But when we LEARN to have fun with our spouse and children, we learn to enjoy life, and whom God created the people in our lives to be. Entering Gods rest fills our life with joy, love and wonder. Learning to have fun in our relationships, balances out any hardships in parental responsibility (please see my other article named: "Struggling to Enter God's Rest", if you need more help with this subject).
Look To God For Your Purpose
As I was trying to find my identity in Christ, I made the mistake of looking into other people's call to determine mine. Striving to be someone else, placed a grievous burden on me, and it made me even more miserable. After a couple of years from suffering from identity loss and and scence of direction, I finally realized what had happened. I didn't need to look to others or to self to find me; I needed to look to Jesus.
Christ knows everything about us, including those things that we don't understand about ourselves. We each represent a part of God, and He is glorified when we shine His diverse qualities through us. He delights in teaching us who we are in Him. We get to know ourselves in proportion with how much we get know our Creator.
As God brings you deeper and deeper into your identity in Christ, remember that He is not looking to make you into the person you admire, He’s looking to make you into the image of his Son. With this in mind, ALLOW Him to renew your mind.
Learn Your Limitations.
God has placed limitations on us, for our good. But when we violate those limitations, we feel overburdened, burnt-out, bitter, resentful, and unhappy. Learning our boundaries is a blessing and a part of our maturing process. Limitations are about gaining the understanding, of who God created us to be (our call), and the application of the resources we were given to accomplish this call. Those resources include; our time, our personality, and how we were created biologically. Take a look at this biblical example on limitations:
“1But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.5 Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). 6 These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them.7 So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”” - Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7 NLT
In verse 1 we see: what could of been a pressing problem to the Apostles.
In verse 2 we see: that the apostles understood their priorities according to their call and their limitations.
In verses 3-4 we see: that due to the Apostles knowledge of their place in the body of Christ, they were able to come up with a solution that did not distract them from their call. We also see, their confidence in Christ as they trusted God to fill a gap that they understood they could not fill. Moreover, we also learn that the Apostles were not moved by pressing circumstances or people, but were only moved by the Holy Spirit.
In verses 5-7 we see: How God's plan unfolded due to the Apostles obedience to God in accordance with their role and their call. We also learn that God had already separated people like Stephen to fill the gaps of what the Apostles could not do and for God's service. And finally, we see what God accomplished through the Apostles obedience to stay in their place. Their obedience resulted in greater efficiency to spread the Gospel and thus, this lead to a greater revival.
Overall, this Biblical example illustrates that when we understand our God given call and limitations and we obey Him in them, we become more efficient for God's kingdom. Limitations are good, they help us to understand and steer away from distractions. And they protect us physically, mentally and emotionally.
If you are in the process of learning your limitations pay attention to your emotions. Emotions were not made to dictate our lives, but they warn us when something is not right. Take a look at the areas in your life where you're struggling to find peace. Determine the following with the guidance of God:
Is God calling you to step away or give up something in your life?
Are you carrying someone else' s burden?
Are you doing the work of 2-3 by yourself?
Is your ax dull; are you spending time sharpening your ax in God's word?
"Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That's the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed." (Ecclessiates 10:10)
Are you spending rejuvenating time with God, and by yourself? (Refer to Lesson 1)
Are you finishing well? (Refer to Lesson 5 below)
If have a problem understanding your boundaries ask God to help you through those questions. Ask Him to teach you your limits as the person He created you to be. This will take trial and error, but God will be faithful to answer your prayers. When He does, write your limitations down, and share them with your spouse at an appropriate time. Then, ask your spouse to share theirs. Pray together and come up with ways to help one another stay joyful, and on track in your journey. If you ask, God will give you creative ways to re-adjust your life.
There are times in our walk where God calls us beyond our perceived limitations, so that He could:
Stretch our Faith
Help us Grow
Refine our character
Bring us closer to Him
And Get to know Him Better
During these times you will experience growing pains, but you will also experience Gods peace, provision, wisdom, and strength as you ask for it.
If you feel overburdened by what you think is God's will in your life, check yourself for some of these signs:
Are you neglecting His instruction to rest? God is the good shepherd. When a shepherd wants to lead his sheep across a terrain, he makes sure he allows them time to rest. Psalm 23 explains how God leads His sheep. Make sure to listen to that still small voice when he is telling you to lie down and rest.
- Finish Well. The Bible says that even young men will fall in exhaustion. But then it says that those who Trust in the Lord will renew their strength. Parenting is a perfect example of what I'm trying to illustrate. I know I have been called to parent, however I can't think of a time when I was not stretched by this call.
Galatians 3:3 says, Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
As Christians we know that it is impossible to live the life we are called to live, in our flesh. So, we get into God's presence, we seek Him, and we feel great and ready to start our day; with the energy and power of the spirit. But as the day winds down and we get tired we find it more difficult to keep a good attitude. This is the time to stop and seek Gods help. When your finding it hard to keep a good attitude just stop. Don’t try to finish in your flesh. Ask God for a brake, ask God for help. Take a 5 minute breather and keep going. There were times, when my kids were really little where I HAD to STOP. I had to choose whether to leave the house dirty, or have a good with them. I had to choose to stop many times in my day, because I was exhausted and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it. God is creative and him for help to STOP during your day.
“When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, O LORD, I shall seek."” Psalms 27:8
Receive God's Grace For You
Growth is hard. But growing is part of maturing. God tells us in scripture, that "the seed that falls in good soil produces much fruit, with patience" (Luke 8:15). The seed in this parable is the word of God. The good soil is a picture of an honest repentant heart. God guarantees that this "honest repentant" persons growth will be complete through patience, if they don't give up (Galatians 6:9).
Having a lack of patience for ourselves reveals that we are trying to bear fruit in our own strengh. This is unrealistic, because no fruit grows from their own effort. Seeds cannot plant, water, or grow by themselves. Someone must provide the necessary conditions for a plant to thrive. The Bible tells us that God is the one responsible to provide us with the perfect conditions for our growth.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-5)
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow (1Corinthians 3:6)
As you can see from Scripture, we are cared for by our very own Father (John 15). Genesis 1:25 illustrates how God works in our life to order our days, day by day so that we can bear fruit for His kingdom. During this daily walk, we fail. Proverbs 24:16 says, that "the righteous man, falls 7x, but he gets back up again." With this in mind, we need to learn to become patient with ourselves, as God is with us. We do this by receiving His love and grace in the midst of our failures. When you fail, remember that you're one sentence away from forgiveness and restoration; through repentance. On days, when you struggle to understand God's love and mercy for you, ask Him for a reminder.
Be careful not to place false expectations on yourself and others. False expectations are destructive. If you are experiencing any of the above, get yourself alone with God and consider changing your ways. Ask God to reveal your limitations within your call. Remember that Gods will for you will NOT be burdensome. Ask Him for guidance on what to do in the areas that you feel a heavy burden. He will gladly share His wisdom, and help you (James 1).