Yesterday I had coffee with a lovely young woman who is about to give birth to her third child. Three kids four and under. I’ve been there.
As we chatted she asked a question that took me back to my young mom years. “Why did Steve and I decide to move from downtown Dallas to the suburbs?” What she wanted to know was how we, these radical Christian thinkers, ended up in a white, upper-middle class suburban bubble? I had to be honest.
Twenty- four years ago we moved from New York to Dallas to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. I was a brand new Christian and a new mother.
I was clueless.
He whispered to the recesses of my soul, “Jackie you want your kids to go to Christian school because you are afraid you will fail them in their understanding of faith. If you want your kids to walk closely with me you will have to show them what it looks like.”
We moved to the suburbs because I was afraid. Afraid of so many things but mostly that I would mess up my kids. I had baggage from growing up under an abusive father. I had no idea how to be a Christian, and being a godly mother? Ugh, forget it! So I wanted to put as many walls around my kids as possible to make sure they had all these other means of knowing God—in case I sucked at it.
God said no.
He insisted I learn to lean into him and let him teach me how to mother. And since my kids’ lives depended on it, that’s exactly what I did.
I share some of that story in my new book, Lime Green. I hope that when women read it, they find their own story in mine and learn to relax and lean into God in their mothering.
Too often I sit with young moms and hear the fear in which they are operating. Which school? When should I put my kids in soccer? How much planned activity is too much or too little? Will they be deprived if I work outside the home? … and on and on we go.
My kids are now grown, young adults figuring out their own way. Looking back, I can now say to young moms, just love like Jesus, unconditionally, and let Jesus speak about how to parent each child. To put it more simply, “Stop parenting out of fear, and learn how to parent in faith.”
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Here’s an excerpt out of Lime Green.
The Bible was the book on parenting I needed in that time. Because there Jesus would say, “Just stay on the horse.”
I learned staying on the horse would look different in different situations. But it always meant turning to God’s Word for direction. So, the day I received a phone call from the middle school vice
principal informing me that Hampton had stolen an ice cream during lunch (how stupid considering he had $20 in his lunch account!), just as I had learned to do in that tiny apartment, I went to the Scriptures and asked Jesus, “Show me the issue. Tell me what to do.” God led34 me to Ephesians 4:28.
When Hampton got home, I sat him down and said, “I received a call from your vice principal today.” By the look on his face there was no need for further explanation.
“I asked Jesus what the heart issue was and here’s what he wants to say to you: ‘Hampton, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work and give generously to others in need.’ What that means is you are going to have to do some yard work for your dad. You’ll get paid. And you’ll give it to someone in need.”
The beauty of Jesus parenting your child is it alleviates parental guilt. Whatever happens with your child is really between him and Jesus. Let that news sit on your child’s shoulders!
You can read more about Lime Green and order a copy of the book here: