This summer our family took a vacation to territory new to us. One of the states we drove through was North Dakota. It was a typical state where farming is the primary industry. Mile after mile of fields were dotted occasionally with a house or very small village. There was one thing about almost all of those farms that just amazed me though. On almost every acre there sat a huge pile of rocks. Not tiny rocks mind you, but rocks that would take one or more very large, strong men to struggle to move. It became very obvious this rich farm land had once been incredibly rocky. The early settlers must have performed backbreaking labor for days just to ready the fields for plowing and planting. They must have had to work quickly and as a team as the growing season that far north is very short. (In the winter the cold is bitter and the fields covered in snow.)
I am sure many settlers buckled under the work, gave up and moved to easier places to farm. I imagine all of them were tempted to give up more than once. It appears though that the work of those who toughed it out and remained was worth it. Even today, generations later, the fields yield beautiful and abundant crops.
It dawned on me the other day that in my parenting I can often identify with those early settlers of North Dakota. Some days as a parent are so emotionally and physically draining there is a temptation to let my daughter basically raise herself. I question if it is really worth it to correct her for the same offense I have corrected her for time and time again. It seems like it would be so much easier to let her do what she wants to do. After all, she is basically a great kid many parents would love to have living in their homes.
Then I remember those farmers and their crops. Do I want to raise a child who isn’t a criminal, but hasn’t dedicated her own life to the Lord and His work? At this point in her life, she would probably turn out fine in the world’s view even if I never corrected her again. But what about in the Lord’s eyes? If I had been one of those farmers, I think my greatest temptation would have been to leave a few stones unturned. I might have tried to ignore their existence and plowed around as many as possible. I am not a farmer, but I imagine my results would have been far less than the farmer who cleared stones until they were all gone.
My daughter is possibly the most important blessing God ever gave me. How she is parented will affect not only her life, but in many ways the lives of my grandchildren and generations of my descendants. Whenever I am tempted to stop active parenting, I try to remind myself of that fact over and over. Usually, it will give me the strength to remind myself I dedicated her to the Lord. Just like Hannah must have done, there are times when I have to do something that seems too hard to do at the time. If I can just find the strength to parent even on the toughest of days, I think I will be grateful in the end.
The interesting thing about those piles of stones is that generations later, every acre still has a pile sitting on it. With modern machinery, I imagine it would be easy to move them off of the property and create a little more space for planting. Yet they remain. I wonder if the farmers leave the piles to remind themselves of the hard work of previous generations. Perhaps when they are having a tough day, the piles of rocks remind them that hard work and perseverance will eventually pay off with a bountiful harvest. Maybe we need to create a pile of rocks in our own yards to remind us to keep parenting actively. The potential harvest is definitely worth the effort!