“How 936 Pennies Will Forever Change the Way You Parent,” a thought-provoking blog post, floated around the Christian parenting sphere for a time. I found it well worth the time I spent reading it. The author made a great point: we have approximately 936 weeks to spend with our babies before they turn 18. Are we spending those pennies (weeks) wisely?
Something struck me as I read through the article, though, something I wish the writer had pointed out.
We aren’t promised 936 weeks. We aren’t even promised tomorrow.
I know countless parents who have lost children long before the offspring’s 18th birthdays. If putting 18 years into perspective by viewing them as a penny a week is intended to inspire us to better parenting, should we not also consider the fact that only the Lord knows the number of each one’s days?
Every day with our little ones is precious. We’re not promised that we’ll have 18 years – or even 18 days – to parent them. How would keeping this perspective change our parenting habits?
While I don’t want to waste time worrying about what the future holds, Scripture reminds us to number our days so that we may apply our hearts to wisdom (Ps. 90:12). Next to marriage, I know of no other situation in life that requires wisdom more than child rearing!
If I knew that I only had, say, 12 years – or 624 pennies – to parent one of my spark plugs, what would I be doing differently than I currently am? Would I change my approach? My actions? My responses?
I know that, for starters, I would want to spend more time with a child whose days were numbered. I would want to be more patient, to be more creative, to do more reading aloud. I would want to get down on the ground and push toy cars along a track. I would want to spend time teaching him the truths of God’s Word, reminding him to place his confidence in the only One Who cared enough for him to die on a cross in his place. I would want to take a million photos a day, trying to capture as many memories as possible.
If those are the things I would do if I knew that our time together was coming to a close, why am I not incorporating these things right now? The fact is that I don’t know that my time is not limited. I don’t know my own lifespan. I don’t know those of my children, either.
While I am not at all worried about losing a child and am content to trust the future to the One who knows what lies ahead, I do think it a good thing to take time now and then to re-evaluate how I’m raising these spark plugs to see if I need to change my approach.
In some areas, I truly believe that Jon and I are doing well. We daily spend time in God’s Word with the kids. We pray for them every night, specifically that they will each grow up to love and serve the Lord. I’m improving on spending individual time with each child and am attempting to quicken my response when one of them needs me.
There are many other areas where I have great room for improvement, and I know that as I work toward strengthening my weaknesses, I will invariably lose traction on my current strengths. The pendulum of life simply swings back and forth, and I will never be able to do all things well this side of Heaven. I’m perfectly okay with that. I may not be able to impeccably execute my responsibility as a parent, but I know that the Holy Spirit is working in both me and my spark plugs and is filling out each of our weaknesses. It is a beautiful testimony to His perfection.
I don’t know how many pennies each spark plug has left. I’m thankful for the ones we’ve already spent together and pray that we have many more ahead. I’ll keep praying for wisdom to raise them, reading and memorizing Scripture with them, and snapping pictures as often as I remember to take out the camera.
I don’t need to know the future. I only need to be faithful for the days that I’m given with them, whether that’s 936 weeks or 936 seconds.
Your turn: How has thinking about Eternity affected your parenting? In what areas are you excelling? In what areas are you hoping to improve?