Years ago, a mom-friend of mine flopped onto the big blue couch in my living room and confessed, “I feel like all I do all day is tell my kids what to do and how to do it.”
I nodded my head knowingly and sympathetically and absolutely had no idea what she was talking about. At the time, I had a baby less than a year old. Our conversations usually went like this, “Momma loves you. You’re so sweet. Where’s your nose? Oh, you’re so smart.”
And then she’d respond with, “Mama” or something else equally superior and I’d just know we had connected and that she was a genius bound for great things.
But now I’m older and my kids are older. One day at dinner I remembered the words of that mom and realized that she could be describing my life.
Wash your hands before you eat. Use soap! Sit like a lady. Talk like a lady. Eat like a lady. Chew with your mouth closed. Use a napkin. Don’t spill your milk. Clean up the milk you spilled. Clear your place when you’re done eating.
Brush your teeth. Up and down. Front to back. Don’t forget your tongue. Brush every single tooth. Don’t leave globs of toothpaste in the sink, on the wall, or on the floor. Hang up wet towels.
Don’t hit your sister. Don’t yell at your sister. Don’t manipulate your sister. Don’t push your sister. Don’t boss your sister. Don’t roll your eyes at your sister. Don’t tattle on your sister.
Do your homework . . . neatly. Take pride in your work. Practice the piano. Study your memory verses. Put your shoes away—shoes and socks do not live in the middle of the kitchen floor.
At times it feels like we’re prepping kids for the standardized tests of life and that means covering table manners, relationship skills, character issues, faith lessons, and more.
This isn’t just about the Mom-life. Teachers, church leaders, aunts, grandmas, big sisters, small group leaders and more all have speeches we’ve mastered and a curriculum to cover.
But what if we miss something? What if there’s a question we don’t know how to answer? What if we get it wrong and miss out on cultivating one of their gifts or fail to correct a character weakness?
Oh, how I have collapsed onto my knees under this responsibility in the past and now again for one of my daughters.
Because I just don’t know.
I don’t know what to say and when to say it and when to hold my tongue. When do I punish, let it go, reward?
Samson’s parents prayed the same prayers I’ve been groaning out in confused desperation.
In Judges 13, an angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of a man named Manoah to announce that she’d no longer be childless. She would have a son and he would be set apart for God from the very beginning as a Nazirite—no alcohol, no cutting his hair, nothing unclean.
God had a plan for Samson: “He shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).
What a promise, and yet how overwhelming for two first-time parents to wonder: “What if I mess this up?”
So, Manoah “prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born’” (Judges 13:8 ESV).
Yes, this is how my prayer crams into words: “Teach me what to do because You know and I just do not. I could read every parenting book and follow every tip and strategy in every parenting magazine and every idea on every awesome mom-blog and still get this so terribly wrong.”
God answered Manoah’s prayer, returning to visit with this young mom and dad and instruct them on the Care and Keeping of Samson.
So, I pray with the deepest confession of weakness and need, “God, I’m clueless. I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know how to get it all done. I don’t know where to go or how to make this happen. Please teach me.”
And when we come to Him, all overwhelmed and fully aware of our own insufficiency and weakness, He answers. He sees that purity of our heart’s request: Our deep desire to steward these gifts He’s placed in our hands, the way we’re not flippantly shuffling through every day with inattention and unconcern.
leads the humble in what is right and teaches them His way (Psalm 25:9 HCSB).
Yes, He has:
heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully (Psalm 10:17, HCSB).
On days when we’re clueless, moments when we just don’t know, this is the promise we need.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King
4 thoughts on “A Prayer for When You Just Don’t Know”
Oh Heather, I so many times have felt this same way. We just don’t know what to do.
I always ended my prayers with,” Lord please fill in the gaps. I’ve tried to do what you want me to but I know there are still gaps that only You can fill”.
I still pray that for the times I don’t do all I should for my adult kids and grandkids. I know I don’t always show them Christ no matter how hard I try.
Love you Gal, Dottie
Dottie, what a blessing this comment was to me. I love your prayer that God will “fill in the gaps!” And it also blesses me to see you as a mom to adult children sharing that with me in my “young mom years.” Sometimes we all need the reminder that it’s not just us, we’re not alone, other moms who see as successful have prayed these same prayers. It’s such an encouragement to see that testimony!