Before my first baby was born, I prepared myself for a major career change. My husband and I had decided that I would stop working outside the home for a while and become a full-time mom. I knew I had a lot to learn in my new role, as I’d heard about motherhood requiring the skills of a nurse, nutritionist, chauffeur, office manager, coach, counselor, events planner, teacher, and referee, just to name a few. What I didn’t know was that becoming a mom also meant I would be entering the farming business.
Not right away, but the older my kids got, the more I felt like a farmer with a budding crop. I was responsible for these little people God had planted in my family, and it was up to me to make sure they grew well. Very well.
Like a good rancher just starting out, I did my homework. I asked other farmers for advice and paid close attention to older, more experienced growers who’d been farming for years. How did they do it? How did they ensure a “good” crop? I read articles and books. I got up early and worked hard. I wasn’t afraid to get my hands dirty. I kept a close eye on the weather, stood ready to battle any harmful pests, and prayed daily for God to bless our land. After all, the growth of these trees was a direct reflection on my farming expertise, right? This little crop was my responsibility; failure was not an option.
So I did all I could to be a successful farmer: my kids would be good kids. I made sure that the soil was right; my husband and I provided the best environment we could. We offered plenty of water and sunshine for them to thrive, an abundance of love, support, and encouragement. I watched my crops carefully, pruning when necessary, nipping challenging behavior in the bud.
And, guess what? It worked! Sometimes, my kids were good! They were sweet and respectful and kind. They obeyed and worked hard and made good decisions. Receiving compliments about their behavior from friends, teachers, and total strangers at the market was like winning a blue ribbon at the county fair. And I wore those ribbons proudly. Wow, what a good farmer I must be to raise this kind of crop.
Other times however, it didn’t work at all. As hard as I tried, goodness didn’t grow. During these times, when my kids didn’t listen, refused to obey, or made poor decisions, I resorted to solutions that any reasonable farmer might try …
I yelled at the trees. I pleaded with the trees. My husband and I sat down and had serious discussions with the trees. I tried negotiating with the trees, lecturing the trees, and even bribing the trees. Our efforts had some temporary effect, but no significant, long-lasting impact on the growth of our crops. Wow, what a horrible farmer I must be to raise this kind of crop.
Looking back, now that my days in the field are almost over, I know that farming is a tricky business. As moms, we can do everything right, and still have a few shaky seasons to work through with our children. On the other hand, we can make lots of mistakes, and still be granted grace and blessed with a plentiful year. I know that I tried my best to be a good farmer, but I also know that growing goodness in my kids was never really in my power. Goodness, just as with every other fruit of the Spirit, grows from the Spirit. It has little to do with my farming skills, and all to do with His power, His ways, His perfect timing. We can’t force it, create it, or hurry it up.
Fellow farmers, don’t lose hope! Keep preparing and enriching that soil. Continue to provide all of the water, sunshine, and love you possibly can. Don’t stop paying close attention to each tree, and pray ceaselessly for God to bless your harvest. Fruit will come, from the One—the only One—who can lead our kids to flourish in goodness.