I used to get so mad when I would find wrappers shoved under beds and socks shoved between couch cushions. It was evidence that, not only had my kids disobeyed (“Throw away your wrappers!” and “Put your clothes in the hamper!” were instructions my kids heard often), they had sneakily hidden their rebellion into little crevices out of my sight.
So what would I do? I would crack the whip and demand that my offspring come in and pick up their wrappers or socks or other object of defiance and put it where it belonged. I felt a certain sense of satisfaction in making my kids obey. I felt a sense of peace; as if I was in control.
Now that my kids are all taller than me, I’m learning that we–as Control Girl moms–can produce a pretty convincing imitation Christians. Ones who obey their parents and go to church and live moral lives. And we can do so without God. But here’s what we can’t do. Even if we nag, threaten, and give “the look”, we moms cannot produce children of God. Only God can do that.
Coming alive spiritually is just as much a miracle as coming alive physically. In the same way that we moms didn’t know how to bring our babies alive inside our bellies, we don’t know how to bring them alive once they are living life and making decisions on their own.
I admit, this is hard for me as a mom who struggles with control. What if I have a mouthy, lazy teenager? A sneaky, dishonest preschooler? A boy-crazy middle-schooler? As a Control Girl, I have a whole litany of tactics to unleash on bad habits I see. But when I succeed in demolishing the bad behavior, have I really cleaned up the problem? Have I produced new life that is lasting and true? Or have I succeeded in gaining momentary control?
Moms, we are absolutely called to influence our kids. And they they are accountable for the way they choose to live their lives, regardless of how wonderful or terrible we are, as their moms. But browbeating my child into meeting my expectations does not produce the thing I most long for. It does not turn my child into a true child of God.
A true believer is one whose obedience springs from a willing heart, not a heart caving to a controlling mom. When I nag, pressure, and control, I might be able to produce something superficial, but only God can do the real work inside my child’s heart.
Bottom line: I cannot produce a son or daughter of God on my own—only God can. Remembering this frees me to be a beautifully surrendered mom, not an ugly, controlling mom.
This post was adapted from my Bible Study, Control Girl, p. 74-75.
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