On Stretching

I have a pretty common conversation with other moms. We talk about whatever struggle is currently on our plates with our kids. We talk about how tired we are. We sometimes complain a little. But I'm thankful for friends who are learning alongside me. I'm thankful that I have friends who will share their true feelings, fears, and even moments that they aren't too proud of.

As parents we are stretched in more ways than we thought possible, no matter what our situation. No matter how many children you have, or what kind of children they are; parenting is something that stretches every part of you. Just when you think you have a challenge all figured out, something changes, completely stomping all over your desire to control everything.

What is this stretching? I don't exactly know how to describe it, but I'll give it an unworthy try;
Before your baby arrives, you expect that parenting will bring you trials and you realize your days are going to get busier. You might even recognize that you're going to have to give of yourself in ways you never have. None of us can really know for sure what it will be, we just know it will be different than the life we had before.

We are stretched beyond what we could have imagined when the details of it all become bigger than we are.

Let's just say I'm the current Gumby of parental stretching. I'm Mrs. Incredible's rubbery arms. I'm play doh and silly putty, stretching across the dining room. No parent is ever prepared for the love they will have for these wee ones. We all experience it differently, in our own unique ways, but it is never absent. We live it every day. This love is where the stretching begins.

The challenges of parenting are so all consuming, one at a time, just as they come, just for today. Therefore, we are stretched. To be more patient. To be more calm. To be more faithful. To persevere. To grow. To change. The physical demands are great as we take on the task of daily life. The emotional, mental and spiritual demands are even greater.

We are forced to see parts of ourselves we never thought it would be a good idea to take a peek at. And then we are stretched. So we stand naked before our families with all of our baggage gleaming brightly on our backs. It can be painful and awkward, and yet there we stand. If we have anxiety issues, hello panic attacks! If we struggle with anger we will find ourselves in a room counting to ten more times than we like to admit. If we are depressed, there is no way to hide it and no way to leave it alone. We are stretched beyond these things, to try to heal and to be free of them so that we can offer our children a healthy parent. We are stretched.

My experience thus far, as naive as I may be, is that this stretching can only benefit our family. I will have no other choice but to hold on to my belief that God's heart is good. And He is fully aware of the hearts of my children. He has always had their very best in mind, even before I met them. He has a really cool purpose for their lives. He loves them more than I do. He will not ever change that. And so my faith is stretched, being molded and groomed, making it possible for me to live out my purposes.

I have never been all that good at growing up without being stretched. This particular version of stretching is one I would never want to give up, as painful as some of it can be. One day I will look at my boys, all grown up, and I will realize that they made it possible for me to change in ways I never imagined I would.

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