Losing Control

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” – Isaiah 54:13

When my kids were infants, we brought them to church and dedicated them to the Lord. I remember this beautiful ceremony so well. We committed to raise them in the “fear and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). We recognized them as the gifts they were from God. And we acknowledged they were on temporary loan to us from Him. But somewhere along the way I forgot these babies were not really mine.

I’ve always struggled with fully releasing my kids to God’s care. Being in control is how I’ve dealt with the inevitable fear and worry that comes with parenting. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn, very painfully, that not even this super mama can insulate them from the pain of this broken world.

As I’m realizing my inability to shield my kids from all pain and disappointment, I’m being stripped of the delusion that I’m in control. I think that’s a good place to be. It’s not comfortable or easy. But it is good.

Isaiah 54:13 says, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” (ESV). This verse reminds me who is the ultimate caretaker of my kids. I can’t control every detail of their lives, but I can entrust them to One who can.

Hope for the Future

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
– Corrie Ten Boom

I used to feel so secure in my future. I had things planned out so far in advance–to the point that I stopped asking God what His thoughts were. Then my future became uncertain, and I was forced to trust God with it. Or at least that’s what I’ve told myself. I use Matthew 6:34 almost as an excuse for why I’m not planning anything beyond the next few minutes: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (NLT).

The truth is, the future frightens me. From one day to the next, I honestly don’t know what new pain or challenge I will face. I’ve told myself that by not planning for tomorrow I’m not worrying about it. But the reality is, I am so worried about tomorrow that I refuse to think about or plan for it. I’ve even trained my kids not to ask about anything beyond today. “Mom, can I have carrots in my lunch tomorrow?” Journey would ask. Then I’d hear Faith reply, “Remember Journey, don’t worry about tomorrow!” It sounds so spiritually stupid now as I write it. But I thought I was protecting them, along with myself, from unmet expectations of the future. If I don’t plan for it or hope for it, I won’t be disappointed.

But the other day, as I was dropping the kids off to school, Journey asked about plans for next summer. My first inclination was to give my usual caution: “We’re not going to worry about things that far in advance.” But I stopped myself before I said it. I felt so strongly that instead of shutting it down, I should encourage a hope for the future, not only for him and his sister, but for me too.

James 4:13-16 says, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil” (NLT). This was another verse I used to keep myself safe. But the point of it isn’t to tell me not to plan for the future. It’s to warn me not to make my plans without God’s direct involvement. After all, He said in Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'” (NLT).

Just as the Corrie Ten Boom quote above says, I can trust God with my future. I can remember that He’s the one in control and He has good things planned for me. And in my trust of God, I can teach my kids to embrace the future and not be afraid of it.

Great is His Faithfulness

Earlier this year, after nearly 17 years of marriage, my husband and I separated. Whew! That was a hard sentence to write. There are a lot of people in my life that don’t know. It’s not that I’ve been trying to keep a secret or lying. But it’s really difficult to admit, out loud, such a huge failure.

From the beginning, I’ve told myself, “As soon as this resolves itself and God moves in our situation, then I’ll tell people. And what a testimony it will be!” But I’m learning that the testimony isn’t always when things are neatly resolved and put in a pretty package. Sometimes the miracle is in the process—in how a faithful God walks with me in the most difficult circumstances. As a friend aptly reminded me: “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and did not love their lives to the death” (Revelations 12:11, emphasis mine).

Although we separated earlier this year, the whole process started nearly 18 months ago. It’s been a long season, filled with a lot of life-changing lessons—none of which have been particularly fun to walk through or learn. But there’s a passage of Scripture that God gave me early on that I remind myself of often:

“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!'” (Lamentations 3:20-24 NLT).

I love Jeremiah’s honesty here. He doesn’t sugar coat it. He doesn’t pretend his situation is better than it is. He actually says, “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss” (v. 20, emphasis mine). That’s real life! That’s my life! There’s no pretty way to paint this. It’s just plain awful! But the rest of the passage is the kicker: “Yet I still dare to hope…” And that is what I’m learning. No matter how dark things get (and believe me, there have been plenty of dark times), there is still hope. Not hope in the situation itself, but in a faithful God who has promised He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6). It’s in a trustworthy God who also promised in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That’s why I can say, with a confidence that only comes from experience, “Great is His faithfulness!”

The thing I hate about being a mom

I love being a mom, much more than I ever thought I would. But there is one thing that I hate. No, it’s not the poopy diapers, although I could do with a few less of those. And it’s not the so-called “terrible twos,” after all that does pass (or so I’ve been told). It’s not even the late-night feedings that feel interminable in those early months. What I hate the most is the constant worry that comes with being responsible for another human life.

I wouldn’t have considered myself a worrier before children. Sure, there were things that nagged at me from time-to-time. But generally, I didn’t worry. But once I had children, I became this person I didn’t recognize. I suppose it’s pretty common for a first-time-mom to worry over every little thing. But I felt frantic. I think what gets me the most is the feeling of being out of control. There are so many things, when it comes to kids, that are completely out of my control.

When Journey was nine-months-old, we discovered that he was losing weight. That was a frightening time for me. I felt so helpless! I was doing my best and, once again, it wasn’t enough. I constantly had to prop myself up and say all the right things: “I trust God with my child”; “God is in control, even when I’m not;” etc. I sort of adopted a “fake-it-till-you-make-it” mentality (1 Samuel 30:6 Amplified).

I’ve grown a lot since those early days. But one thing remains–I still worry, a lot, about my kids. I try to keep it together on the outside. But deep down, I’m biting my nails and wringing my hands at the slightest abnormality. But even though I’m freaking out on the inside, I still keep saying the “right things.” And I remind myself of all the worries of the past and how each issue has resolved itself. When I’m in the middle of a challenge, it feels so overwhelming. But when I step back, I remember the last thing that kept me up at night and how that too felt so overwhelming. Then I also remember how we made it through. “Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid for you are close beside me…” Psalm 23:4 (NLT).

I doubt the worry will ever truly go away. And I’ll probably still have my secret freak-out moments. But I know that regardless of what I face with my kids, God will always see us through.

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