I have daughters. Three of them. Some days it’s easy. Some…not so much. But between both spectrums I have stories – a lot of stories from my time of being a dad of daughters. Most of which probably should just remain family stories. Let’s face it, my girls would probably not speak to me for the next 30 years if I’d share some of the more “entertaining” stories. (Otherwise known as embarrassing). And even though my job as a dad is to embarrass them I know my limits. Although Nicky has to remind me of them from time to time.
Anyway…You have an imagination and you can probably relate. I’m sure it’s not just girls that these types of stories emanate.
If you’re a parent you already know what I’m talking about. If not, well consider this a good read. Becoming a parent is not something you can study up on.
I love to read and so I read a couple books. Nicky read a couple with me. And I felt as though I had this parenting thing figured out. Not a big deal!
Then came Jalynn.
Holy son of a motherless goat! Whatever ideas of my being totally prepared for parenthood were thrown out as quickly as smelly diapers. I’m not saying Jalynn was any more of a challenge than my other two daughters. But that she was the first. It was a culture shock unlike anything else I’d experienced. Late night (mostly Nicky) diaper changes were an experience. Those things are bad enough trying to get them on. Let alone at a 3 am groggy stupor. Especially poop filled diapers. Ugh. Those were always a treat!
But slowly a route developed. And I adjusted.
Then came Madylynn.
Have you ever prayed for patience? Don’t. Run. Run as far away as you can from that prayer.
I’m being a bit dramatic. But while we were praying for patience with one daughter we discovered we were pregnant with our second. And God gifted us with Madylynn.
Now one might expect that the same practices and learned experiences from Jalynn would transpose cleanly to the next child. Logically this makes sense.
Girls don’t make sense. At all.
Madylynn was her own little person – full of her own sparkle and challenges. More stubborn than Jalynn she was the answer to our prayer for patience. And like Jay, Maddy is a great daughter. She simply presented us with challenges unique to her. Things we didn’t expect. Maddy loved to (and still does) express herself. That expression came in the sounds she made and the messes she created. And they were beautiful messes!
Ellynn was our last.
When we found out we were pregnant with Ellynn my next step was a call to Doctor Sanders. We finally figured out what was causing babies. And so after a happy pill, and a little snip snip, we were done having daughters.
And like Jay and Maddy, El is beautiful. She sparkles in her own way. She sees the world so differently than most other people. And like Jay and Maddy she presented her own set of challenges. Some of what I learned from Jay and Maddy applied to El. But I still had learning to do.
And it’s here where God finally broke through to me – a lesson through my daughters that I’ll have for the rest of my life and of which I’m eternally grateful for.
I was in our nursery rocking El to sleep. I could hear Nicky, frustrated, trying to get the other two bathed and in bed (think herding cats). All the while I’m totally enjoying the peace and quiet of rocking Ellynn to sleep.
To set the stage of life, Jay was 6, Maddy was 4, and El was about 8 months. In all seriousness, my career in being a dad of daughters had only started. And what I had experienced was the easier part. I had a lot more to go.
It was this thought while rocking El that sort of shook me. I really wasn’t prepared for this. It all sort of just happened. Well, sort of! We’ve already covered how we got to three daughters.
But the idea of them learning to become young girls, then teens, then young ladies, and finding husbands who are godly. (Not excited about that one!) It was overwhelming. The next thought is an honest one.
I was in over my head.
I’m sure I’m not the only one. And I’m sure that others have experienced a moment like this. Maybe not with parenting but with other areas of life.
I think part of me believed that God would swoop in and rescue me when He saw that I was in over my head. And while God can do that, it’s not His typical nature. His nature is more of one that desires to do “through us” than do “for us”.
Solomon gives a great example of this in 1 Kings 3. A little context might be in order to make the connection. Solomon is David’s son. Yup! The same David that killed Goliath and the same David that was king. He’s now dead and left some big shoes to fill. And it’s Solomon’s job to fill them.
Overwhelming? Makes raising girls seem easy when compared to leading a nation!
God appears to Solomon in a dream at night and asks Solomon a question I’ve never been asked
1 Kings 3:5 Ask what you wish me to give you.
Now stop for just a second. Have you ever thought about the whole genie thing? Come on! Sure you have! We all have! We’ve all thought about what we would wish for if we had one wish to make. And that wish has changed as we’ve grown up. (Some of us anyway…I’m still wishing for the Millennium Falcon)
Anyway…God gives this opportunity to Solomon.
Solomon begins his reply to God with a word of praise about his father, David, and the fact that he is David’s son.
1 Kings 3:6 Then Solomon said, You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
He then admits his own immaturity, inexperience, and incompetence.
1 Kings 3:7 Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.
He’s unsure of himself to rule competently the nation that God has entrusted to him. He doesn’t know where or how to start which leads to not knowing how to end either.
I can relate – only my nation is Jay, Maddy, and El. And I don’t rule them, but I am to lead them. And in that moment in El’s nursery, I felt vastly unprepared and unqualified. Maybe a glimmer to how Solomon felt.
One thing you’ve got to know about Solomon…he was known for his wisdom. And he was wise. But he doesn’t ask for an infilling of instant wisdom from God. Instead, he asks God to work through him. Read it for yourself.
1 Kings 3:9 So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?
The question at the end is the clincher. The answer is no one but God. He knows it. God knows it. Solomon is asking for an understanding mind and a hearing heart (one that listens). His response is like telling God…
“Hey! I can’t do this on my own. And on my own, I’ll screw it up. But…if you work through me, we can accomplish something great!”
Solomon is asking God to work “through” him instead of work “for him”. And the difference is significant.
This response pleased God. And God honors his request.
Now if you’re familiar with Solomon’s history after this moment, you know he didn’t always make the wisest of choices (which is sort of ironic). But I want to focus just on this beautiful moment that Solomon has with God.
Because you can have that same moment.
In El’s nursery, God didn’t come to me in a dream and give me the genie wish. But he gave me an understanding mind and a listening heart when I asked him to work through me in raising my girls. It’s not like God suddenly imparted upon me this fantastic mind and heart. In fact I’m sure that’s not the case! I’ve done it wrong too many times since then!
The difference was in my spirit, in my response to Him. While I am totally dependent upon God to give me wisdom, I’m also responsible for doing my part.
What’s my part? Glad you asked!
Let’s look back at Solomon’s example. What’s the first thing he does? He praises God. He praises God in the midst of the circumstance that he’s in – leading a nation when he feels overwhelmed and underprepared. He’s grateful for what God has done and he makes that known both to God and himself.
He then moves toward a position of humility. Instead of having a large view of himself, he lowers it. He admits where he’s faulty, where he’s incompetent, where he’s inexperienced. This is not a self-esteem move…it’s a God-esteem move. It’s esteeming God vastly greater than anything else. So Solomon’s second thing he does is humbling himself before God.
Lastly, Solomon presents his response, his wish to God. An understanding mind and a hearing heart. The phrase hearing heart needs some explanation. It’s hearing and obeying. Solomon desired to hear from God and obey what God had to say in the matter. Solomon aligned his heart under God’s heart and sought God’s direction. It was a commitment to not only hear God, but to respond obediently to God.
I’m reminded of what James wrote about wisdom. That if any of us lacks it we should ask for it. (James 1:5) That’s great! And I’m glad God honors that! But we still have to do our part just as Solomon did. We have to give God the proper praise, humble ourselves, and align our hearts with God’s. It’s a commitment to not just hear from God, but hear and respond obediently to what God asks.
Man I wish I could say I’ve gotten this right every time since El’s nursery. I haven’t. Pride can so easily get in the way! But that won’t stop me and it shouldn’t stop you from a commitment to seek an understanding mind and a hearing heart from God.
Here’s the ending thought. Next time you feel overwhelmed, apply Solomon’s recipe.
- Praise God.
- Humble yourself.
- Ask for an understanding mind and hearing heart.
Don’t expect God to just fix it without using you or without you having to do your part. That’s not God’s nature. And it’s irresponsible of you. You have a purpose in His purpose! And that’s for God to work through you in the overwhelming days and seasons of your life.
Today, Jay is 16, Maddy is 14, and El is 10. I’ve still got a long way to go. But I’m thankful that nine years ago, I had my first of many “Solomon moments” with God. For it’s God’s doing “through me” that has made me the father that I am today and the father I will be tomorrow. Even through dirty diapers at 3am, messes all over the house, boyfriends, and eventually husbands.
But let’s not go there just yet! I’ll need another Solomon moment for that one!