“Mama, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
I’d just gone in to kiss my six year old good night. His room was still filled with evening light, and I could see his large, tear-lined eyes as he stared thoughtfully at the ceiling and explained this to me in a calm, matter-of-fact tone.
I stretched out on the bed beside him looking earnestly into his face, my own eyes filling with tears.
He was right. He is going through the largest trial of his life right now.
There was a strong desire inside me to stop the pain he is going through. Like any parent, I long to see my child joyful and at peace every day, but I’m also learning God, in His love, sometimes has a bigger plan for my child then easy days.
My first grader continued. (He’d just spent 15 minutes discussing this situation with my husband, and he had a game plan.) He was going to show God’s love to the person hurting him in the situation.
I listened intently, as my son quietly outlined for me how he’d sometimes been unkind to his sisters, and now God was teaching him the importance of being kind.
He talked about praying for the person who was hurting him.
He expressed how he wanted to share with that person about Jesus, and we talked about showing Christ’s love and being a light.
My eyes welled.
We as parents so often see our children in pain and desire to dive in and save them from sorrow, and my mother’s heart longed to do this for him.
But as I lay there in the semi-darkness watching his piqued little face as he searched to express deeper thoughts and reach far beyond the tiny world he’d known even that morning, I was hit with a deep mix of joy and sorrow. God was working in my six year old son’s heart.
The difficulty he faced was drawing him to God and helping him show more of God’s love to others.
Parenting is not quite what we feel it’s going to be.
When our child is born, we take hold of that sweet treasure God’s given us and desire to protect that child from everything. We try to give them every advantage we can. We don’t want pain for our child. We don’t want people to hurt them. We don’t want them to fail.
But pain can purify even a small vessel.
Hurtful people can drive even a child to God.
Failing now, under the love and care of his parents, is the safest place for a child to learn foundational patterns that will set him on a life time course and future strong walk with God.
We as parents plan out a course for our children. We give them healthy food to strengthen their small bodies. We impart wisdom to (hopefully) shield them from mistakes, we fervently share the gospel, and we give massive amounts of thought to their education and extracurriculars.
We don’t usually dream about the trials divinely brought by their greater Parent.
We don’t really think our child will be the worst reader in the class, the ‘dumb’ one who feels the rejection and judgement of his peers and maybe even teacher.
We don’t imagine our child being the socially awkward one who can’t seem to make friends and doesn’t fit in.
And it’s hard, as parents, when these problems come up in our child’s life to not view them as roadblocks to the wonderful life we have planned for our child.
But these are not roadblocks, they are stepping stones to a higher path for our children!
The socially awkward girl learns dependence on Christ for her need of friendship, and eventually, she will understand and show empathy to the excluded and outcasts.
The academically delayed boy will learn discipline, conquering his academic struggles, and he may soon surpass the children who never had to fight and struggle in school.
And as a parent, I am left in awe as I watch God working in my child’s life according to His good pleasure.
My focus is shifted from my ‘perfect’ plan for my child to the perfect Author.
God brings about what I could never begin to do in my child. He brings about faith, hope, love, wisdom and character.
And I become nothing more than a bystander and an occasional arrow – pointing my child to focus on his most loving Parent.
And what’s more, my faith is grown. I lay my ‘plans’ on the altar and see God do more than I even thought to imagine for my child.
Thank you, Lord!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11