Instrumental


Words by Shannon Guerra; Image by Rosina Waszaj

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I used to think I had things under control. Life was a simple melody, and our home was an instrument that was easily tuned.

And then we had kids.

We learned about God’s sense of humor. Our melody turned into harmony, and the chords started to weave in and out of dissonance as we all learned to play together.

At first it’s not so bad because they start as babies, and even though our sleep schedule is in ruins, we can at least dress them the way we like, play the music that we want, and beautify the nursery according to the dictates of our Pinterest boards.

Enter toddlerhood.

These small, chubby prototypes of the human species have the capability to rearrange, redecorate, and revamp any ideas we have about who is in charge, and it just accelerates from there.

But it’s okay. Really, it’s good for us, because we aren’t the ones in charge. Fortunately, our kids aren’t, either. The sooner both parties discover that, the happier everyone is.

Parents learn to give up some small details – and some big strongholds – in order to focus on priorities. It’s that phrase called “choosing your battles” – but it can also be called avoiding foolish, ignorant controversies. We open our hands to let go of some of our ideas of décor, fashion, and interests, and He fills us with discernment and wisdom for these blossoming little souls.

They flourish when given room for creativity that our perfectionism might otherwise stifle.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:23-26 ESV).

I have three daughters, and they all have their own eccentric ideas about wardrobes and accessories. In light of one of my daughter’s penchant for dressing like Punky Brewster, this passage could be interpreted thus:

Let it go, Mama. Patiently endure plaids with prints, pinks with reds, and mismatched socks without arguing. Correct her gently, without demanding coordinating colors. By adulthood, God may grant her wisdom to understand that red checkered pants will never, ever, in a million years, go with a football jersey worn over a purple shirt.

It is an ongoing process of sanctification.

They don’t always like the same songs we do, rarely have the same favorite color as us, or have all the same interests. I love music, and our oldest son isn’t interested in it at all beyond playing it on the radio. He has a gift for technical science, while I can’t even work an alarm clock.

We aren’t called to raise little duplicates of ourselves. We want to train our kids to grow up to look like Him, not like us. It’s much simpler than we make it sometimes:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Each of us as mothers, as women, play a variety of instruments. You play your home – a two story in the suburb, an apartment in the city, wherever. We play our washing machine, our kitchen stove, and our vehicles. One of my main instruments is a Suburban that we fondly call the Stagecoach, and I conduct a small orchestra of six little musicians who all play their own instruments – legos, swords, dress up, and sometimes even the piano. They create their own symphonies.

Their styles are often very different from mine. They’re very . . . percussive. 

We don’t write their music or dictate their future, we just teach them the notes and conduct them through the song until they learn to read music on their own. Our gentle influence is instrumental to their pursuit of the gifts God has given them.

We let go of control in little things to give our children room to learn, grow, and express themselves without our own insecurities getting in the way—and when our hands are open, letting all those little insecurities fly away for the sake of their freedom, we find our hands being filled with smaller hands, slipping into ours. Mismatched socks, messy hair, and all.



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