We were one of those fortunate couples who got pregnant exactly when we planned to. We married quite young, spent 4 years enjoying married life and then fell pregnant in the second month off contraception. I read books, attended courses, and was as prepared as I thought anyone could be. I made lists, I made plans and I had everything all worked out. My life was going to continue only lightly affected by this new little person that was coming into our lives.
However, I was not quite as prepared as I thought I was. There was still some heart-work to be done. I didn’t realize that parenting is a whole lot of laying down your life (and your plans) for the sake of another person. And putting off your own life and plans is hard for all of us, albeit harder for some than for others.
Our first year as parents was extremely tough, but I am still so thankful for that time, because God used it to do that much-needed heart-work. The tough times in life are the ones that give us the opportunity to grow and we will do well to try to embrace them. If everything is easy and comfortable, there is no need to grow and change. The tough times expose things in our hearts that we wouldn’t be aware of otherwise. My struggle gave me such a heart for other parents that it set me on a course to minister in this specific area. It caused a passion to develop inside of me and now others can benefit from what I have been through.
Romans 8:28 is a very well-known verse, and it remains encouraging: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Parenting has many joys, but it also has many hardships, as does all of life. Nevertheless, what an encouragement to know that the Lord can take each one of those hardships and use them for our good and the good of those around us – if we allow Him. I wouldn’t trade that extremely tough first year of parenthood for anything, because now I can see its purpose. And the reward of seeing other parents benefit from what I have learnt, far outweighs the price I had to pay.
Knowing this truth doesn’t always make the struggle easier, but it fills us with hope: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (Romans 5:3-5).
About the author
Leigh Janse van Rensburg is an Evergreen Parenting consultant. She is married to Jaco and has three children. She is passionate about seeing families, the building blocks of society, strengthened and rebuilt.