We didn’t become a family easily. Our resume includes infertility, miscarriage, adoption, failed adoption and international adoption. Oh, and we have a biological child as well.
When you have to jump through hoops to become a parent, it makes your gratitude level soar. It might also make you a bit over-protective. It probably did for me.
Can’t really blame myself for that though. Most people begin a family by having a (hopefully) pleasant physical encounter. I started a family by being fingerprinted and having a background check. New babies for many parents involve a trip to the hospital. While I have made that trip, I have also made a few trips to the airport. It’s just different.
When those precious bundles grow up and manifest as the grown-up version of the sinners we all are, it’s shocking! How could my prayed-for, sacrificed-for, much-celebrated child turn out to have some of the challenges of any other young adult, or maybe some super challenges in addition? This is not how I thought my kids would turn out!
Uttering those words takes me back to when my oldest was a young teen. She was sweet on a little boy at church. A few years into the sweetness, they became more interested in one another. The mom of the boy spoke to me once and said, “This was not what I had planned for my son.”
I can’t begin to tell you how furious I was! My daughter was a delight Her son was a good kid too. How could she make such a pretentious, rude comment? My sinful self wanted to punch her in the face.
Yet, I find myself sometimes echoing a similar lament: This is not how I thought my kids would turn out.
What does this really mean?
As I pray about it, the Lord reveals to me (once again) the absurdity of my thinking that I am in charge of anything! Just like the mom whose son’s life was being sculpted by her alone, I fell into the same trap. With all my investing, cultivating, loving, teaching, training and praying, surely my kids wouldn’t have problems.
In the end, it has very little to do with me. It has more to do with how the Lord wants to work through me.
He chose me to be the parent of children with certain issues. He had confidence that I would (through earnestly seeking Him) do the best I could to raise them. He asked me to trust Him with the rest.
It isn’t easy. Most days I feel both blessed and burdened.
But every day I am grateful. Through these life experiences, He has forced me to grow in Him and lean on Him. He has allowed my really horrible flaws to come out as well as my real strengths. There is a fullness and steadiness to life that would not be there if I did not have the privilege of being a parent.
And so when a mama tells me about her child’s struggles, I can say, “Ah yes. I understand. Can I encourage you in this?”
What a gift.