Friday, July 25, 2014

Roots and Fruit (MNM 4)



 . . . blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
 
whose confidence is in him. 
They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.
 
It does not fear when heat comes;
 
its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)


Welcome back!  Before we go any further, here are some of the main ideas we’ve discussed so far:

Most people believe a person’s intelligence is what leads to academic and life success.  But research shows that traits such as grit, perseverance, and resilience—in other words, the non-cognitive traits—are far more crucial than IQ, or cognitive ability.

From kindergarten to college, many of today’s youth seem to possess only the most meager supply of these characteristics.

This means it’s important for moms and dads—that’s you and me--to be intentional about nurturing their children’s non-cognitive qualities.  We can do this by creating opportunities for them to begin discovering and strengthening these traits, and by avoiding parenting pitfalls which inadvertently limit these opportunities.

When parents allow our children to practice characteristics like perseverance, resilience, and optimism, we aren’t just strengthening their non-cognitive ability.  We’re cultivating characteristics which are consistent with biblical values. 

We’re also responding to our culture’s call for individuals who possess these characteristics. 

In other words, we’re accepting our world’s rare invitation to bring our faith right into the open—to live out our beliefs in a way our world understands and even welcomes.

I hope these thoughts give fresh and exciting significance to this season of parenting your little ones.  But if you’re like me, it also feels a little intimidating.  So, before we go any further, you should know a few things.

First, a disclaimer:  I am NO super-mom.   When it comes to parenting, I am nothing more than a work in progress, and if you spent 10 minutes with me, you’d know that.  This has never stopped me from trying to pretend that I’m a super-mom, but I’m learning—very, very slowly—that pretending is just a bad idea.  The fact is I’m just an average, everyday mama trying to do her best and finding little successes some of the time.

Second, a warning:  Learning about the importance of cultivating my children’s non-cognitive traits has been inspiring, fascinating, and informative.  But it’s also a little dangerous—at least for me, and maybe for you too.   Here’s why. 

Most of the moms I know are regularly on the lookout for the latest and greatest parenting strategies, which are available all day, everyday.  It doesn’t matter where I turn—the radio, tv, social media, or the good old fashioned library—I run into someone else with a list of 10 tips to a great kid.  Because my heart’s desire is to be the best mom I can, I read that advice and faithfully add it to my “mama list.”  Maybe you have one too:  It’s the itemized list of everything I must to do in order to succeed as a parent and avoid failing my children.  Each time I read another piece of expert advice, my list gets even longer—impossibly long, in fact.   And what results is a dilemma faced by countless well-intentioned moms: When, in our desire to always, always be the best parents, we are constantly gathering information, we inadvertently set ourselves up for frustration.  Because the fact is not one of us will ever, ever measure up, because we will never, ever accomplish everything we’re
supposed to be doing as mothers.  Constantly updating the mama-list is nothing more than a recipe for frustration and guilt.

And when I go down the road of mama-guilt, I slip into some behaviors I don’t find particularly productive:
~ parenting to avoid the bad rather than cultivate the good;
~ parenting impulsively rather than intentionally;
~ parenting that's reactive rather than proactive;
~ parenting out of fear rather than trust

And that kind of parenting, my friend, saps the joy right out of your day.

So I’ve decided to take what may be an unexpected approach to this series on nurturing our children’s non-cognitive traits.  Rather than advising you to cultivate a list of traits, I’m encouraging you to cultivate a habit of trust that is rooted in truth:
  ~ trust in the truth that you are a flawed-but-capable mom;
  ~ trust in the truth that God has created your child (and you) with the innate capacity to learn, to grow and to mature; and (most importantly)
  ~ trust in the truth that God will guide your unique mothering journey, and that, like Jeremiah says, He will produce His fruit in your child’s life, and in yours.

Our job is to trust in the truth; His job is to produce the results. 

When we tend the roots, He grows the fruit.

I still have so much to learn, but I can confidently say this:  trusting doesn’t begin with my making a list of behaviors and systematically training my children to practice them.  It begins with putting myself in earshot of a loving Father’s guidance and trusting Him to do His part. So that’s where we’ll begin each part of this study—not by examining traits, but by anchoring our hearts and minds in the truth about our good God, and trusting in His ability, willingness, and desire to guide us along each step of the mothering journey.   


As you make your way through these readings, my prayer is that you’ll rest confidently in God’s ability to help you discern what “fits” you and your family, that you'll feel the freedom to pass over what does not, and (most importantly) that you will be encouraged during this precious season of your life.


We’ll start the study with our next post.  I can’t wait!



1 comment:

  1. Anne this is so good and so true. Trust is opposite of striving and striving is what we can sometimes do when we aren't trusting Him!

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