By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
I have a short window left to talk candidly about my youngest. He’s learning to read a lot faster than I anticipated. Russell is evolving into his personality, and it’s interesting to watch, because he is our goofy, fun-loving one who keeps all of us laughing.
That is, until any girl comes within 6 feet of him — young, old, dear friend or complete stranger, Russell avoids eye contact, words, or anything close to human communication.
In my incessant worry as his mother (honestly, I already feel bad for his wife, I will be such a difficult mother-in-law), I asked him a question one day. It happened when we got into the car after an awkward encounter with one of his female classmates: “Russ, what are you going to do in high school when a girl talks to you? I really don’t think you are going to just be able to avoid girls your whole life.” And he said, as calmly and confidently as he tells me he loves me each night, “Well Mom, I’ll either walk away or I will ask her to marry me. It’s not that hard.”
Lord, help me. For real. It’s conversations like this (and my 8-year-old daughter’s sole birthday request of lululemon shorts) that cause me to lose confidence in my ability to handle anything related to motherhood.
I’ve mentioned before in this space that I have to guard my heart from becoming a manager instead of a mother. I can find myself being critical of my kids to protect my own self-image, my own desire for others to think I’m a good mom. Shouting “BE KIND!” in an aggressive manner in public, or when my kids are playing with friends, doesn’t necessarily give a consistent message of kindness. I am a hypocrite (“No you can’t have a coke; it’s bad for you,” as I am on my third of the day), I am self-protecting, and I lose my temper.
Why? Ultimately, because left to my own devices and desires, I am ill-equipped to love my kids well. All of us, as sinners, can’t possibly master all the intricacies of motherhood.
Because of this, I often find myself in the same battle I found myself in during my teenage years: a complete lack of self-confidence. Lying down at night with a list of things I should have done differently that day — it can be the song playing on repeat in my head.
As our church has been going through a sermon series covering the power of unlikely heroes, namely Gideon in the book of Judges, I have been reminded repeatedly of God’s goodness in never leaving us on our own, His faithfulness in providing strength when we are weak, and ultimately His love in pointing us to Himself each day.
I was struck recently with one point in the sermon: “God wants us reliant, not confident.” Isn’t this what parenting is all about? Relying on the Father’s protection, His wisdom, His grace when we inevitably get it wrong, His strength when the broken world lets our kids down, His peace when everything around us is anything but peaceful? Reliant prayers, I believe, look different than what I often find myself praying. Reliant prayers are simpler, more powerful, and more the right view of Who actually is in control.
Reliant prayer says, “God, help me. God, I need you. God, show Yourself to me. God, guard my children’s hearts and minds today as they learn to seek You. God, You are the Creator and the Sustainer; show me Your way.”
Reliant prayer puts me in the right place. It reminds me that my inadequacies have been covered in the blood of Jesus. We have been restored, redeemed, and renewed each day because God made a way for you and me to have an unlikely hero: a baby born in a manger, who became a servant and King who died a death we deserved to bring us eternal life and Hope everlasting when we fall short.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 8 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 5 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.