Alas, I am not smarter than a fourth grader. I have been subbing in a fourth grade class of late, and fractions are breaking me into bits. Percent over a hundred equals is over of. I can say the right things, but some of those word problems are doozies. My AP Calculus teacher would be ashamed of me.
Perhaps because of the re-immersion into fourth grade math, I have had fractions on my heart and mind. Actually, one fraction in particular is haunting me.
You see, my oldest son turns twelve in a few months. And, rusty though I may be, I can still do some simple math. Twelve is two-thirds of the way to sending him off to college, if the Lord would have it.
Two thirds. More than halfway there. I swear I just taught him to write the numbers two and three by counting candy corn and gummy bears at our kitchen table.
We have approximately six years left before he can legally join the army or vote. Six years of trusting the Lord for deeply significant things in his rapidly running life.
Six years of begging the Lord for deepening insight into his personality, including his shadow side and glimpses of his glory self. Six more years to carefully and relationally come alongside him to interpret disappointment, risk, failure, victory and defeat. Six more years to climb a bunk bed to lay and pray for and with him, listening for hints at what is going on in his heart and mind.
It does not happen often that I am stopped dead in my tracks at the beauty and weight of this calling of motherhood. I am usually too busy stocking the pantry, schlepping kids to practices, and helping with dioramas to see that I need to take off my shoes… because this motherhood season is holy ground. But this week, I have been struck with wonder and urgency anew.
What a privilege and responsibility to be entrusted with his rapidly growing heart, mind and body. What a sacred and strange portion God gives parents. He asks parents to become experts on their children and the best-educated-guessers as to how to shape and guide them to live out what God has laced into them already.
Did we pick the right school? Did we seek to discipline to get to his heart rather than merely trimming his behaviors, as if he were a topiary? Did we speak over him what we saw coming out of him? Did we catch him doing not only broken things, but also beautiful things? Did we give him space enough to fail?
Without the Spirit’s intercession and a gospel buoyancy, the weight would be crushing. But with the triple-strength help of our Triune God, these questions become goads to press on in prayer, to present and re-present and re-re-present our children before the One who calls them twice His, once by creation and again by salvation.
For the past year, I have been praying that God would cultivate in our older boys passions beyond their own pleasure. As I’ve been expectantly looking for tiny sprouts of future-trajectories to grow, I have been so tempted to plant my own dream seeds or the easy-to-come-by stock seeds of the culture in them. Yet, I want to leave space enough for God to grow what He has perfectly planned for them.
This last third of our in-house parenting seems to be more about responding and praying, watching and waiting, course-correcting and vision-casting than controlling and knowing.
I am so thankful that Jesus has opened up a way of access for me (1 Peter 3:18) to come boldly into His throne room (Hebrews 4:16) and lay down daily the burdens and blessings, the failures and victories, the questions and tensions of motherhood. For I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard all that I entrust to Him until the Day of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:12).
He is the brilliant mathematician, the perfect gardener, the life coach par excellence. He is my hope in parenting not only these next six years, but also for as long as I and they live until the fullness of His presence becomes our true home.