Relentless. It was one word my son used to describe me for my 50th birthday. It’s not a word I would have used to describe myself, but in retrospect, I’m happy he sees me that way.
As parents, we need to be relentless in so many ways. We relentlessly share our love, faith, encouragement, discipline, teaching and most importantly, our presence. To wrap up our #JoyinParenting series, we’ve discussed the importance of being a guardrail, teacher, and simultaneously a lighthouse and/or a willow as parents. But nothing can compare to being a present presence.
You may think the choice of words is redundant. But trust me, they were chosen with care. Being present and being a presence can be two very different things. We all have experienced someone being physically there yet far from present. It could be from distraction, unhappiness, or something else, but they aren’t truly present with us.
I’ve been guilty of this far too often as a parent. I’m physically there, but my mind and heart are elsewhere. It could be for very good reasons, but the result is the same. I’m not fully engaged; I’m not truly present.
On the flip side, we all have experienced someone’s presence even if they aren’t physically with us. We are reminded of others when we experience something they’d enjoy. We sense the presence of a departed loved one in memorable moments. We knowingly trust God’s presence is with us, even though we cannot see Him. We can be a presence without being present.
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” ~Deuteronomy 31:6
God is always present in our lives as He promises and the more we learn about and live for Him, the more He is a presence as well. Influential people and parental voices also echo throughout our lives.
Can anyone else still hear their parent’s voices in their mind when making a decision? My mom has been gone for almost twelve years and I still sense her presence almost daily. She is no longer present but her presence will never leave me.
Being both present and a presence as parents boils down to choices. What we do and say as parents is important. We may not even realize the significance until we hear our children describe us as my son did. To him, my relentless nature is probably both an annoyance and a blessing, I suspect.
At times, I relentlessly nag, remind, instruct and protect. Not necessarily bad, but maybe not always joyful or appreciated. Hopefully, more often I relentlessly love, encourage, assist and defend. While certainly not perfect, I pray my choices will culminate in a loving, joyful presence my children will carry through their lives.
Let’s choose to be joyful parents who are present. There will always be days when the joy doesn’t flow. In those moments, fewer words and being fully present can be exactly what’s needed. Being there for it all-the good, the bad and everything in between, matters.
At the same time, let’s also be a joyful presence in our children’s lives, not only when they are small but also in the tween, teen, and adult years. How we guard, teach, stand firm or sway while they’re growing up impacts the rest of their lives. I want my children to always know I’m with them, even if I’m not physically present. Creating a joyful presence while being fully present builds that foundation.
Finding parenting joy comes as we protect, teach, stand firm or are flexible, but most importantly as an ever-present presence. Knowing they are always loved not only by us but also Jesus can be just the lifesaver our children need one day. Let’s not underestimate the power of God’s presence and emulate Him by doing the same.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. ~John 14:16-17
Just as God is ever present with us, let’s choose to be fully present with our children. Let’s be the relentless, joyful presence of love, encouragement, and stability our children need. In this, we will truly find our joy in parenting.