I’ve heard it said that parenting is like building a cathedral one brick at a time. Usually, it can feel more like one tiny piece of a brick at a time.
There’s a building project on a large piece of land by the library in town, and we’ve heard rumor that it will eventually be our favorite health food store. For months it seemed like nothing was going on, just a lot of trucks driving here and there over a paved lot. Then one day, you could finally see a foundation being laid and soon after that, the outline of a big store. All that effort had transpired into something tangible relatively quickly.
Not so much with mothering.
As moms, it sometimes feels like whatever construction you did accomplish during the day constantly meets with a wrecking ball (aka your kids). The building gets knocked down and you have to start all over. The clean dishes become dirty again. The empty laundry basket gets refilled. The neat and tidy rooms inevitably get messy.
Other times it can seem like the contractor simply didn’t bother to show up. There’s a framework, but progress is stalled. You go for months, maybe even years, without seeing any of the fruit of your labor.
Your son keeps displaying a disrespectful attitude you thought had been dealt with. Your daughter refuses to take steps towards more independence. Your children seem stuck in the same frustrating, and at times heartbreaking, behavior patterns.
It feels like you repeat the same words, go over the same lessons, read the same verses. And nothing changes.
In our fast paced culture, we want to see instant results. We aren’t satisfied until we actually witness something start to take shape, and when there is little progress it’s not very motivating to continue building into our children’s lives. However, the Bible promises “at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV; emphasis mine)
Of course, we need to make sure that we build on the right foundation in the first place.
Our homes must be built upon the Word of God, if we hope to produce children that have the same values as we do. This is the blueprint for all of our construction.
With so many things vying for our kids’ attention and hearts, they need to be grounded in the truth. They should see us esteem God’s Word over all else. If we have a problem, or a decision to make, they need to know that we will seek God’s wisdom over man’s. Likewise, if they have something they’re struggling with, they should be learning how to apply biblical principles to the situation.
Proverbs 14:1 says, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” We can either build a safe and secure home for our families with our words, actions, and attitudes, or destroy it.
Our words can build up and encourage our kids, or break their spirits. We can choose to spend time on things that don’t really matter in the long term, or be intentional about helping our kids build character and integrity. We can act resentful towards our children and spouse, or we can be joyful about serving and spending time with them.
Finally, prayer is the cement that holds the building all together. Without it, we lose our connection to the Master Builder who guides our work. We lose sight of the grand purpose before us, growing frustrated with what seems like a lack of progress.
As we pour into our children, we must be poured into by Him. We cannot give what we do not have. We’ll become weary in doing good if we’re concerned only with what we can see right here and now before us.
Eventually, all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into this cathedral we are building will start to appear in our kids’ attitudes, in their choices, and in their relationships. The monument of raising children gets built in the minutiae. In all of the nitty, gritty details from diapers to dating.
Today, we just have to focus on that one brick we are laying down. Or that one tiny piece of a brick.