Thursday, May 04, 2006
Thoughts from the Garden
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with our first, Erik and I have prayed for wisdom to raise our children, and that they would grow up to love and fear the Lord God. We've read many books claiming that "this is the way" to raise your children. They all seem to promise the same result while offering the reader wildly different "methods" for obtaining it. Wouldn't it be nice to have some formula that would guarantee that if we do this, this, and this, our children will turn out like that? My Dad likes to point out out that Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go..." not in the way his sister or brother or another child should go. I've been mulling this over for a while, but this weekend, while working in the garden, I felt like it was clarified to me in a new way.
I'm a fairly novice gardener; I like to dig around in the dirt and plant things and water them and watch them grow. This is our first Spring in a new home, so we're starting from scratch, digging and building beds and planting. We did a soil test and are amending the soil based on the needs of the individual plants. We've been watching the shadows to discern wether a particular spot qualifies as sunny, partially sunny, shady, etc. As I studied my seed packets the other day, trying to decide where and when to plant each them, it occurred to me that just as each plant thrives in different conditions so each child needs to be raised uniquely. Some plants can be sown directly into the soil; others need to be started indoors and carefully transplanted. One loves sunshine and another will whither and die in the heat. Some can tolerate drought and others need lots of water and mulching to keep the roots moist. In the same way, each child will thrive in a particular environment.
As I considered where to grow each plant, I realized Erik and I need to carefully consider each of our children's unique characteristics as well. There is no "one size fits all" formula for raising kids. We need the Holy Spirit's guidance with each child, in each situation. I don't know how many times I've heard someone say, when speaking of a wayward child in an otherwise godly family "But they were all raised the same way; I don't know what happened." I do not want to pass judgement on anyone, on their apparent successes or failures, but maybe children shouldn't all be raised the same way. Our own children are young and we're just starting this journey and want to learn from others. I'm realizing each precious child is a unique little plant and we need to look to the Lord for "growing instructions". They need many of the same things, sunshine and water and good dirt, but one may need more of one thing and less of another.
And of course we need to remember there are weeds and pests that threaten to harm our tender little shoots as they grow. This paragraph from Farmer Boy struck me as I read it to Peregrine: "There was no time to lose, no time to waste in rest or play. The life of the earth comes up with a rush in the springtime. All the wild seeds of weed and thistle, the sprouts of vine and bush and tree, are trying to take the fields. Farmers must fight them with harrow and plow and hoe; they must plant the good seeds quickly." (Laura Ingalls Wilder) We, as parents, are like those farmers; we must fight the weeds and thistles that come up in our own hearts first, and then in and around our dear little children. Galations 6:9 says "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up".
Lord, give us wisdom to know our own hearts and then the hearts of our children. Teach us to raise each one in the way he should go and to learn from you just what he needs moment by moment and day by day. We look to You for wisdom and trust You for a harvest of righteousness.