If you take your girl to birthday parties, you know it’s inevitable: The birthday kid is gonna open up a present that’s amazing and your kid’s eyes are gonna nearly pop out of her head and then, at some point comes “I WANT THAT!”
Somehow, though, I’d forgotten that this happens. We’d spent the past year working on being grateful for what we have. My 7 yr old seemed to enjoy focusing on finding our blessings: we have a nice place to live, a wonderful family, fantastic friends, food always in the fridge, clothes on our backs. We tried to appreciate the weather even when it was too cold or too hot. She loved to share, and was quick to do so. We watched Hurricane Matthew develop and set its sights on the Caribbean. We watched it leave a wake of utter devastation and hard times. She even offered to forego presents at her birthday and instead collect donations to send to Haiti to buy supplies. I was content in my heart. I smiled that all knowing smile – my eldest understood what mattered and eventually it would rub off on my toddler and I’d have a pair of amazing, giving kids. I could check “gratitude” off my parenting list!
But then the birthday party came and went and all I heard for the next few days (weeks?) was “why don’t I have 20 dollars?” and “I can’t wait for Christmas to get presents!” and “I want shoes that light up!” and “I wish my room was bigger!”
Wait a minute, where’d my grateful, fabulous kid go? Not gonna lie, I felt discouraged and kinda felt like a failure. I prayed a lot of, “what happened, God?” prayers.
And I was reminded of some really important truths:
- Our kids are sinful. What? Little Susie isn’t just the perfect little angel? Nope, none of them are. We are all born sinful and we will spend the rest of our lives dealing with a fallen spirit.
- The work is never done. Finish lines are awesome, but alas, the finish line for the work of our soul is pretty far away and we won’t cross it til we’re in our Father’s presence… and neither will our kids.
- None of our praying and teaching and guiding and good examples are in vain. What seems like a setback doesn’t mean total failure. It means the battles for our souls rage on, and yet the work we’ve done plants seeds. Seeds that need to be watered and tended ’til our last breath is taken, but there is always growth potential! That’s extremely good news, my friends.
The thing is, I remember being selfish as a kid (shoot, I’m still selfish at 39!). But I have also matured greatly since my childhood. I am still a work in progress, but thanks to God and many great examples from loving adults in my life who never gave up, I’m also very grateful. More and more, I see blessings immeasurable.
Don’t lose heart, friends, when your kids seem to have completely forgotten how to be grateful, especially as we enter the traditional season of giving. Persevering will not be pointless, I promise. Remember the value of their precious souls, and that you are doing the Lord’s work when you’re teaching gratitude.
Don’t give up, God has promised blessings to those who endure – and He ALWAYS fulfills his promises!
And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
Romans 5:4 NLT
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:9 NLT
A Prayer for Endurance
Dear God, you know sometimes we expect perfection, or feel like we’ll never get this parenting thing right. Help us to remember that life is a constant work in progress and it’s beautiful work. Help us to endure and constantly look to you for help, so we may see and reap the bountiful blessings you’ve promised! Amen.