Isn’t it so hard to see our newborn baby get his first cold or struggle to gain a new skill? Hasn’t every mom been tempted to rise up and smack the kid who stole her child’s toy during a play date, or at very least throw the stink eye her way? It is hard at times to watch our children battle their flesh in order to learn self-control or to face the many disappointments life brings. Many days it is a challenge even to say “no” to our child despite knowing how much it is for their own good.
We want so much for our children. We have hopes and dreams for them even before they’re born into our homes. We want to protect them from anything that would bring harm or adversity into their lives and shelter them from the harsh realities of living life in this fallen world.
For me, so much about motherhood has been anything but what I expected or desired for myself or my children. I did not expect to have a child with a Port Wine Stain covering forty percent of his body and a related syndrome called Sturge-Weber Syndrome that affects his eyes and skin. I didn’t expect to have to encourage my boys to face fears that seem so unfitting for children their age. I didn’t expect to wait for a week postpartum for my 3rd child, Bella, to come home from the NICU. Nor did I expect that same child of mine, now eight, would be recently diagnosed with epilepsy.
But most unexpected of all in this motherhood gig is to be at a place where I see all these unexpected hardships as gifts, as God being ever so gracious to my children.
You see, God has shown me that in a quest to shelter my children from suffering, I could very well be sheltering them from the thing that draws them to God. I could be holding back the rush of Living Water Who wants to flood their souls and minds in the midst of their needs and longings.
When we are unable to get rid of whatever it is that is the source of grief or discomfort in our child’s life, maybe we need to give thanks instead, recognizing that God is at work. We can express empathy to our child, communicating how much we would love to take away the “ouchy,” the bully, or outcome of that test, and at the same time take up a banner of faith to affirm God’s sovereign love at work in our child’s life and heart. We can believe and speak over our child the truth that God is using even these hard things in his life for his good.
I will say from my own experience, however, that we must first believe this to be true in the deepest part of who we are, first for our own life and then for our children’s lives before we communicate it convincingly to them. This requires some hard work and wrestling with God in prayer and over His Word at times before we arrive to such a place.
For me, it has meant many hours poring over Scriptures, memorizing, journaling, praying, and pleading for God to open my eyes and soften my heart to His truth, to not give me over to bitterness or lies from the enemy. It has looked like cries in the middle of sleepless nights, raising fists at God, literally (yes, I have done this!), faithlessly screaming that His mercy was nowhere to be found in my life or my circumstances no matter how much I pleaded.
It has been ugly, raw, and a fight. But God has been patient, forbearing, and faithful. And He has won me. He has convinced me by, in my mind’s eye, repeatedly taking me by the hand to His cross. He has walked me to the foot of the cross and asked me to look up and remember, to see His never failing love displayed perfectly for me through Jesus, Who obeyed flawlessly yet was punished mercilessly, Who took all of God’s wrath that I deserved so that I could have all of God’s love that I don’t.
And because I have seen how He loves me again and again, I can believe His love for my children and I can speak His love and faithfulness over them even in the midst of circumstances I might not have ever expected or dreamed for them.