Life is all about making choices. I believe with all of my heart that God is sovereign while letting His people have some free will. I don't think we are robots or puppets with strings attached. If this were so, then God's love for us would be forced, and true love is not forced in any way. However, I also believe that if we are following Jesus, our decisions should line up according to His plan for us. This is what it means to seek the heart of the Father. We should WANT to do what God desires of us.
Yet, there are decisions that we often have to make on our own, because some things are not that important when it comes to the big picture. When it comes to who we should marry, what our life's purpose is, when we should have children, where should we live, etc... God should be the leader of decisions like these. We can line up our thought process with the Word of God and ask Him for His will through prayer. As a rule of thumb, DH and I do not make any decision that directly contradicts of the Word of God or what He has spoken to us about our lives. Even when it came to buying our new home, we prayed without ceasing that our decision was a wise one and pleasing to God. We believe that if it had not been His will for us to have this home, things would have fallen through.
Now, when it comes to raising a child, God should absolutely be the leader of the entire thing. Verse after verse after verse in the Bible tells us how God wants us, as parents, to bring up our children. He wants us to love them unconditionally and create a Grace-filled home (read Families Where Grace Is In Place if you are a parent...it has changed my and my DH's life! The link is under my Shelfari bookshelf on the right). God wants us to teach them His ways and His Truth. He wants us to speak words of kindness to them so we do not exasperate them and cause them hate us, rather then respect us, when they're older. He wants us to disciple them so that they can be empowered to grow into healthy, happy, spiritually-successful adults. And He wants us to model Him in all that we do so that we do not cause them to stumble or turn away from Him.
Some things I have NOT seen in the Word of God when it comes to raising children are things like whether or not parents should use cloth diapers, whether or not they should use a diaper pail or changing table, whether they (or the mother) should breastfeed or use formula, whether they should buy a Graco or Chicco stroller and car seat, whether to have a natural birth or a C-section (even though back then C-sections did not exist due to lack of technology), and so on and so on.
To me, these are the kind of choices that fall into the personal preference category, and I do not think that they directly contradict the Word in one way or another. Again, if God does not give an opinion on it, then how can we say it is wrong or right?
These are the minor decisions in life that don't really matter, though there are some who treat them as though a child's upbringing depends solely on these particular factors alone. There are some who think that their way of doing things is right and everyone else's is wrong, when there is absolutely NO basis for that. I don't believe for one minute that if a person uses disposable diapers, their child will grow up despising Jesus. That is absurd. And just because I have chosen cloth diapers does not mean I think that my child will grow up knowing and loving God. That has nothing to do with a child's outcome in life.
DH and I would rather focus on the aspect of child rearing that does matter to God, the things that really WILL affect a child in the long run. And none of them involve anything material in nature or petty decisions that don't matter. These are the things we pray for our children:
1) That we will remember the children God gives us are not our own. Ultimately, they do not belong to us; they are God’s creation and belong to Him. We believe that He will give them to us “on loan” for a little while, and our job is to “train them up in the way they should go, so that when they are old, they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6).” We pray God will help us to do this.
2) That if our children are going to have any chance of making it in this world, we have to do our best, through our words and actions, to show them that Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth, and Life. To show them who He is and His love. We believe that if our children are given the guidance they absolutely need through God’s Word, they will choose Him and love Him as well from an early age. We pray God will help us to do this.
3) That we will nurture our children in an environment that is full of God’s peace, love, joy, prayer and His Word, regardless of circumstances or other family situations. We pray that our home would be a place of refuge and comfort for our children when life gets hard, and that they can come there to feel safe and secure. We want the Holy Spirit to be present at all times. We pray that God would help us to do this.
4) That our children would trust us and know that we love them unconditionally. That they would know that they don't have to be perfect for us and that there is nothing they can do to make us stop loving them. We want them to know that if they need anything, if they are hurt or scared, or if they have made a mistake or a wrong decision, that they will come to us first, trusting that we will do our best to help and support them in any way we can. We pray that God will help us to do this.
5) That DH and I would build the right God-given values in our children. We want them to be full of self-confidence, but be humble and kind to all, never thinking themselves above anyone. We pray that they would have integrity, honesty, and great virtue. We desire that they would be an example to others, and not fall in to peer pressure and what the world tells them to do, or how to act, or even how to look. We pray that God will help us to do this.
6) Finally, that our children would love God more than they love the world. We pray that they will desire to serve Him the rest of their lives, and not want worldly success or popularity. In Jesus' name, we ask that they would not be controlled by the prince of darkness, but by the Prince of Peace. We want to teach them to not long for money or material things, but teach them to be satisfied in Christ. We pray that God will help us to do this.
These are the serious decisions we have made that we fervently pray God will help us carry out. And we believe that these are the things that truly matter, even if the rest of the world thinks we're wrong.
What are you doing for your children that matters? What decisions are you making that contradict the Word of God? What decisions have others made that you feel are wrong, even if there is no right or wrong way regarding those decisions?
Teach us to be humble and not so easily offended. Help us to trust in YOU for our decision-making processes. Help us, as Your children, to be confident in the small decisions we have made, knowing and believing that You are taking care of the BIG things. Give us the grace we need when we make minor mistakes in our child-rearing, but let us not lose sight of what You have called us to do as disciplers of Your little ones. Thank you Lord for the gift of loving the precious ones you have created. Let us never take it for granted. Help us to give up control when it comes to our children, and to give them the freedom and love you have given us, unconditionally. We love You and praise You for all You have done, are doing, and will do in our lives and the lives of our children. Thank you for telling us in Your Word just how much the little ones mean to You. May we see them with Your eyes. We love You and bless You God.