I heard this quote listening to Jen Hatmaker‘s Willow Creek podcast from Mother’s Day, and I immediately thought of how scared I am as a parent. I think I’ve gotten better, I really do, but I have a long way to go.
This was never more apparent to me than
this past summer when my friend Jessica invited Jason and I out on the boat. I watched as her daughter, a year younger than Grumpy Toddler, was fearless with the water. FEARLESS, y’all, in the best way possible. She was FUN fearless. Jumped in, swam, played in the waves. In contrast, Charlotte clung to us in our laps, and I realized that she was the result of a mom who tried desperately to remove anything that could possibly cause her harm or sadness or discomfort. I had bubbled her right into boring.
When I think back to my life, and the moments that grew me, they really were just not all that fun. They were times I would have skipped if given the chance – if God had given me the foresight into the future. The babies I lost, the marriage that failed, the friendships that I walked away from, those horrible decisions I made. Like it or not, though, the bad grows us. And as I scrambled to block impending discomfort from my kids, I robbed them of their ability to be strong, determined women. Strong mothers. Dependable employees. I took away some of the experiences that would have forced them to learn to problem solve. In short, I decided to get their education FOR them so they wouldn’t have to – as if somehow that was a good thing.
Worst, I have robbed them of their ability to truly minister to others, because we see God best in the darkness. CS Lewis said “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I kept all the lights on, and took away their shouts from God.
The best thing I have ever experienced is the presence of God. To be fully IN His presence. To know that He is there, and I crave that knowledge and experience for my children. I know that God has very specific plans for their lives, and I know He will use them. And in order to do that, I have to get out of His way. I have to stop trying to prevent life from happening, because the thought that I MYSELF could be the entire reason they do not experience God in a supernatural, indescribably powerful way is more harmful than any hurt I am trying to prevent.
Life is meant to be experienced and learned from, and I cannot go to school for them so they don’t have to learn the lessons. What is life without those moments? I have given them life once, and now must do so again by backing off and giving them the freedom to become people.To experience heartache and failure, to feel that weight that feels unbearable when you get a “No” that you thought for sure would be a “Yes”. I will allow them defeat and falls so they learn how to stand up on their own. I will let them be the people they are meant to be. I will let them walk away and find their own faith if they choose to. And it’s going to be so hard, y’all; but isn’t that what faith is? And isn’t that the whole point?
Life, being lived