Tomorrow our second-born son celebrates his 26th birthday!
He is the son who made me wonder if I wanted to be a mother anymore. 🙂
He is the son who was toasted at his wedding by one of the men in our church, who smiled as he said that years earlier he would have voted Joseph, of any of the little boys in church, most likely to end up in prison! I think he was joking – kind of.
Joseph was a sweetheart — when he wanted to be. He was (and still is) compassionate, playful, creative, bright, curious, friendly, and full of energy. But rather than submit to Daddy and Mommy, he often decided that doing what he wanted was worth the consequences. He spent a good portion of every day in the sewing room, the room where “instruction in righteousness” took place.
Joseph was the child who passed out in the middle of tantrums. Read through the offenses listed on our “If Then Chart” and think, “Joseph.” 🙂 He grins now when he tells people that he was the one who inspired us to create that chart. It’s true. He is the one who drove us to our knees. After almost three years with his easy-going, compliant firstborn brother, we were suddenly faced with the fact that we didn’t know what we were doing after all. That was good.
God has a reason for putting strong-willed children into families. They’re not mistakes. They’re gifts, given by a God who loves us and desires for us to lean totally on Him. He used our little handful of untamed masculinity to mold and shape us.
- I started to pray and lean on God like I never had before.
- I dug into the Word, for my own strength and survival, and also in search of answers to the “What do I do now?” questions that came up almost daily – or maybe hourly – while raising Joseph.
- I learned to persevere, and continued to discipline him, no matter how futile it seemed, because I loved him and I loved God.
- I became at least a little less proud when I had to ask again and again for forgiveness after sinning in my own impatience and anger.
- I was motivated to change when the Holy Spirit pointed out my own stubbornness and self-reliance reflected in Joseph’s attitudes and actions.
Over the years, God helped me to see glimpses of the blessing in his stubbornness, and to welcome the tremendous strength that stubbornness can be when brought into submission to Him. That determined spirit, when submitted to God, can grow into a strong and committed follower of Christ who who will not be easily swayed.
Little by little I changed, and so did Joseph. God worked in his heart, softening it and irresistibly drawing him to Himself. His energy, curiosity, tenderness, sense of justice, and musical talents joined hands with his determined spirit to passionately worship and serve the Lord he had grown to love.
Now he’s a man — a strong and godly man who loves God’s Word and knows what he believes. He is committed to Christ, committed to the Church, and committed to his growing family. I am so proud to call him my son.
Those of you who are blessed with strong-willed children — give thanks! God is the one who created those children. He is one who will bring that will into submission to His. He will use you and your faithfulness, but He is the one who changes hearts. Pray for your child. Pray for wisdom and strength to guide him into the path God has for him. Pray for patience and trust God. He created that child with a special plan in mind, and He will bring it to pass.
Happy Birthday, Joseph. I am so glad you were born! I thank God for the privilege of being your mama. I thank Him (and you) for the forgiveness that has been granted over and over to this imperfect mother. I thank Him for working His work of grace in your heart in spite of our many mistakes. And I thank Him for the countless ways He has blessed and taught me through your life! May you continue to persevere for His glory! (And I’ll be praying for you and Hannah as you start to raise your own little handful of masculinity soon. 😉 )
(Last photo taken by His and Her Photography)