Spirit-Led Parenting: Learning to Lean Not On Our Own Understanding (A Guest Post)

Yesterday, I shared a review of the book Spirit-Led Parenting by Laura Oyer and Megan Tietz. Today, I'm thrilled to share a special guest post with you by one of the book's authors, Laura. Then, check back on Friday for a chance to win your own copy of Spirit-Led Parenting!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Confession time: I am a person who greatly prefers to lean on my own understanding.
I seek out foolproof plans and clear-cut solutions, and find great comfort in control. During my first pregnancy, I practically memorized the popular baby-care books given to me, convinced by the success of friends and confident methods I studied page-by-page that this was the way to ensure myself an infant who slept well, ate well, and fell into an obedient, predictable schedule.

You can imagine, then, how life-shaking it was when my first child did nothing according to my expectations. We began with intense breastfeeding struggles that threw my sense of control into complete disarray. Maya’s eating frequency and sleeping habits did not look at all familiar compared with the neatly laid-out charts I’d studied. My baby needed to eat a lot. She woke up frequently. She preferred to be held all the time. And although she was happy and thriving, I could not allow myself to be the same, because not only was my daughter unable to do what the books and my well-meaning friends insisted she should do, I couldn’t either.

Nothing made sense. I tried to lean back onto my own wisdom and found confusion instead. If the books said, “Your baby will” and my baby didn’t, what was wrong with her? If they said, “You have to” and I couldn’t, what was wrong with me? Through desperate prayers, I’d asked God to just make it work, and He didn’t seem to be answering. What was happening?

My own understanding convinced me that I was failing.
If we let Him, God can use that first intense year of baby’s life to train us how to live a life that is fully surrendered to Him. To cultivate in us a trust that follows His lead, seeks Him first, and understands His grace. Spirit-Led Parenting, page 41
In our book, my friend Megan and I share the tumultuous stories of how God led each of us through blinding fears to previously-unknown freedom during the first year of motherhood, and how this often-messy journey impacted our homes, marriages, and spiritual lives. Our tear-drenched days and nights spent obsessing over how the “right way” wasn’t working, gave way to the beautiful discovery that there just isn’t a God-given command regarding a one-size-fits-all approach to infant sleep and feeding and other baby-care specifics. What works beautifully with some babies and in some homes is not going to be the answer for others, and what we all have in common is that we are simply asked to follow after the God who calls each of us – and our little ones – His children.

One thing that I see now more than ever before is that God knows me.
He loves me enough to look at my tightly-gripped control and attachment to steady plans and firm answers, and ask me to lay them down.

He was not absent in my early days of motherhood, He was leading. And where He beckoned would mean trusting in Him with my whole heart, not just a portion. Rather than lean back into the perceived safety of my own understanding, He asked me to change my posture altogether.

Lean forward, He said.

Lean forward to fall in love with my baby as a unique creation. To let go of the expectation that she would conform to a cookie-cutter set of behaviors and responses.

Lean forward to hear God’s life-giving whisper through the choking cloud of “you must” and “every baby needs to” and “never do this”. To trust that Maya and I were both intimately known by Him, and both of our needs were covered.

Lean forward into the not knowing. To the discomfort of jumping without a safety net of prescribed answers.

Lean forward toward a mindset that no longer views parenting as something to manage or conquer, but as a journey of faith and trust.

Lean forward and experience motherhood as a vividly hands-on way to know what it truly means to follow Christ’s example as a servant leader.

I know now that drawing back into my own wisdom and expectations brings only heartache. Patience, humility, joy in each circumstance, peace amidst laundry piles and hope throughout weary 3:00 AM feedings? These things are not possible when I’m sitting back and operating out of self, but only through God’s Spirit in me if I will seek Him out and yield to trust. This shift in posture and perspective not only transformed the way I parented my babies, it carried into every area of my life, decimating some ugly habits and revealing the wild and wonderful path into surrendered living.
By giving me the gift of a child who needed me to care for her differently than I had planned, God saved me from myself. In teaching me to release control, He brought freedom to my life. Spirit-Led Parenting, page 203
The freedom was there all along. It just meant learning to lean a new direction.

Laura Oyer is co-author of Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year. She blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous at In the Backyard, and is a regular contributor at Grace for Moms. Laura and her husband make their home in Indiana with their 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son.

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  1. Love it. I can't wait to read this book, and think I'll buy one for my friend who is due any day now!

  2. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful piece. Just what I needed to hear today. We can't help it as parents to want to be in control because it somehow gives us a feeling of certainty. But the truth is, we can never really be in control; and there is only one way to have security--to trust fully in the grace, goodness and mercy of our Lord.


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