If you are anything like me, you've found yourself surprised by the intensity of love you have for your children. You knew you would love them, but you had no idea it would feel like this. Elizabeth Stone said it perfectly, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to let your heart go walking around outside your body."
There have been many times I've done the right thing or gone the extra mile, more because I knew it was good for my kids than because it was good for me. There's a shift that happens inside of me, a willingness to sacrifice for them like I would for no one else.
Here's the thing though. Sometimes my choices of obedience and sacrifice are a direct benefit to my kids, but other times my choices of obedience and sacrifice force them to join my pain It's one thing to chose hardship for yourself, but Man! choosing it for your kids is brutal! I'll be honest. My biggest fights with God over the paths He's asked me to walk have come because I thought He wasn't being fair to my kids.
Here's what God has taught me, what I've had to choose to believe about Him when my emotions are screaming at me to run away:
God really is good, not just to me but to my kids.
God says this over and over about himself in his Word. We say we believe it but we've gotta believe it enough to put our money where our mouths are. If God really is good and loves my kids more deeply than I do, than what he's asking of me must be good for them.
If I find myself feeling like I need to protect my kids from God's plan for their Mom, the problem has to be with my view of the circumstances. It takes practice to take these moments, turn them around, and look at them from the other side. But you can learn to do it.
God calling Scott and me to ministry has cost our kids a lot. The statistics say most pastor's kids don't leave home with their own faith in God intact. Their parent's vocation requires them to give up a chunk of their privacy, share their parents with the needs of a lot of people, and live a penny-pinching lifestyle. It's natural for pastors' kids to struggle with blaming God for their hardships. Right from the beginning of our marriage, I had a choice to make. I could either live in fear about what would happen to our kids or trust God that he knows what he's doing and he's doing something FOR THEIR GOOD! God's call was unmistakable and his character made it unlikely that he was telling us to blindly throw our kids to the wolves for the sake of that call. So I decided to believe that the good outweighs the bad and made it my job to sound the trumpet when I see those things.
Why did you get to go on this overseas mission trip as an 11-year-old? Pastor's Kid!
Why does that famous speaker know your name and ask you about your soccer season? Because your dad, the pastor, picked him up from the airport with you in the back seat!
Why do you often see your dad in your high school cafeteria? It's part of his job!!!
You can still trust God in that "Yes." You can know that he is doing things you can't understand or see. You know pain is not the enemy, in fact sometimes it's the most powerful agent of growth. You have to be willing to get out of the way of what God is doing, even though you don't understand it, and even though you know it's going to hurt, and even though you don't know how it's going to end.
We need to decide that if God asked our kids to die as martyrs we could step out of the way and let it happen. We could say "Yes" to that. It's not melodramatic to say that. It's right. Your kids are not your own, they are God's. You are God's. He deserves our obedience and trust even when it's hard.
Choose to fear the right things.
Our family size is another thing I wrestled with God about. Adding large family to stay-at-home mom to a ministry budget seems like an impossible recipe. But each time a new member was added to our family, God mercifully made his call very clear.
The "what-if's" and "How will this happen's" grow loud and can easily drown out the confidence that God had a plan in place before he issued a call to our hearts. It's not always apparent that it's for our good, all of us, but it always is.
As my boys entered high school I became increasingly fearful about their college bills. When they were little I figured we had the future to catch up and get a savings account funded before they graduated. But my plan kept getting put on hold for God's plan and I found myself completely adrift in a sea of fear. I cried a lot about it. I cried to God and I cried to them.
My boys taught me a lesson about trusting God and respecting their ability to trust him too. Looking back, I'm really not sure if this was a good parenting moment, but it ended up giving me one of the best kid moments I've ever experienced. I talked with the boys a lot, warning them that a decision we were about to make as a family would make it certain they would have to pay for college on their own. I was freaking out about it and the fact that they weren't made me even more afraid. I was certain their calm meant they were clueless little babes walking into a hornet's nest they didn't see coming. I couldn't have been more wrong. They took turns telling me they were convinced this thing we were about to do was right for our family, even if it would cost them. With nodding heads, and level voices they told me,
"Mom, if you're going to get something wrong or leave something out, make sure it's not the eternal things. If you screw up our college accounts, the worst that can happen is that we have to find another way to pay for it. The stakes are a lot higher if you screw up by not following God's call with our family. Be more afraid of that."
My sons are wise, listen to them.
All my fears have come true. They are both in college struggling to pay massive bills that I can't help them with. Just about every day I have to decide, again, to trust God with this, and with them. Giving God's call in my life a "Yes" was the best way to parent them, even when it's hard. Whatever he's doing is right, and it's for their good.
Your obedience forces them to make their own decision.
When you say "yes" to God, it's going to put your kids in a spot where they have to make their own decision to either trust him or to live in fear. This is good for them. This gives them a faith that will walk with them out of your house with them someday. A faith they own.
Sometimes they will give in to the feelings that it's not fair and that not having a say and just getting swept up in your obedience to God really stinks. They're gonna screw it up sometimes. Mine did. I do. We fuss to God in the same way. But God still gives us a choice, every. single. time. Our obedience to him is never forced.
Other times, you are going to get a window into your kids' souls that will take your breath away. They are going to choose to sweetly surrender to your authority in their lives as clear direction straight from God. They are going to display a trust in him that puts you to shame. Then you will cry the tears that matter. Tears, not of fearing what your obedience to God might cost your kid, but fearing that you could have missed this!
We have to learn to fear missing the miracles we can't see coming more than we fear the "what if's" we can see.
God IS going to ask things of you that cost your kids and make their lives harder. These moments are going to put your heart through the fire and purify it. You need to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that saying "Yes" to God, really is what's best for your kids.
Take courage, Mommas. Your heart may pound, you'll cry bucket-loads of tears. But say "Yes." Don't let fear sit down in your living room and pull up a footstool. Keep your eyes on the most important legacy you can give your kids, a Momma who says "Yes" to God, and fear missing out on that.
Say "Yes" to God.
No. Matter. What.
You can trust him with your kids.
You really can....now go live like it.