Life is full. There are great and amazing moments. . There are moments that will tear your heart out. There is a lot of the in-between. There are times when the way is certain and there are no gray areas in terms of which way to choose. There are times when the way is clear and the choices and consequences are clearly laid out before us. There are times when the way ahead feels like it is clouded with fog and we don’t know where the next step will lead. There are moments of wonder and surprise. There are moments of shock and tragedy.
All of these moments impact us and become pieces of who we are. They shape and mold us. Our responses to what happens in our lives shape and mold us. They define and refine our character for the good or for the bad.
I always knew that having a large family would most likely increase our “moments”. Life is indeed full. Full to the brim. My family has had so much joy, but we’ve also had our share of heartache…deep heartache. Joy and heartache are the stuff life is made of. We all get doses of each. But as a mom, it’s especially tough when you see your child make choices that are going to bring more heartache than joy and you can see it coming like a fast moving train, but have little power to stop what’s already been set in motion. Sometimes situations just don’t have a silver lining and just feel like a lose-lose situation for all parties involved. Like being in a baseball game that’s gone into extra innings that is ultimately lost, sometimes all we have to show for the intense effort and hard work is dirty uniforms, aching bodies, discouraged hearts and exhausted players. Sometimes there’s a lot of loss and not much gain. So what’s a mom to do?
Yes, what’s a mom to do when you see the heartache of your child, but know that part of their actions are the very thing that set the series of unfortunate events in motion? Honestly right now, I just don’t know. This post is just part of me processing it all because although I can’t change what brought us to this point, I can hopefully help my child to learn, move on, and walk in a way that doesn’t heap more consequences, but brings more healing and wisdom as a result. I can hopefully deal proactively so that this pit in my stomach leaves and no roots of bitterness form and take hold. I love that God can use these situations mightily, it’s just the growing process sure can be painful. So, here’s my little reminders to myself.
PRAY. Yes, of course. That’s the priority. But the priority is not saying I’ll pray, not praying a little bit, but praying to God and yielding myself to Him as I offer up my child and their needs to Him in a time of difficulty. Praying with faith is so different than just speaking mindless words. It is passionate seeking after God’s heart for my child. It is seeking God’s will, God’s wisdom, God’s ability over all and acknowledging that God can so do what I could never even hope to touch. He can accomplish more in one second than I could in a month of striving, figuring out, trying to control, or trying to do damage control. First things first, and prayer must be the foundation of all that this mom’s to do. Yes. Pray.
BREATHE. Yes. Of course. Breathe. But no, I mean, really b r e a t h e. God knew about the situation before it occurred. He allowed it. He is with you. He loves your child. Breathe. Have faith that God can use the situation for the good. Seriously? Yes. Seriously. Romans 8 says that He can work “all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Pray that God will use it for the good, and believe (breathe faith) that God will use it for the good.
FORGIVE. Yes. Of course. Forgive as you have been forgiven. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Sometimes stupid, stupid, idiotic mistakes. Sometimes sinful, selfish, awful mistakes. We sin. We must forgive. There are often many layers of forgiveness. Start with peeling back one. Forgiving isn’t forgetting. Forgiving is canceling the emotional debt owed and freeing both parties up to move forward without resentment of looking backward. Forgiveness frees. Take steps moving toward forgiveness. If you can’t take big steps, take baby steps, but move towards forgiveness.
THINK. BEFORE speaking. Think first. Not react. Not lecture. Not condemn or condone or judge or accept. Think. Align your thoughts with scripture and your feelings will follow. Be aligned with the Word of God, not what neighbors or friends or family or whoever will say about the situation. Yes. Words will fly from others. Others may know of the situation and have their opinions and their convictions laid out before your child for all to hear. But as a mom? It is important to THINK and not react according to my embarrassment or hurt or being misunderstood. As a mom it is important to be as objective as we can so that LOVE is the motive. To love in word or deed. To honor God above all else and others. Not to flip out in words and deeds.
WAIT. Wait and breathe and pray and think and then….only then, wait a little while longer and ask God to set up the timing. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sometimes less is so much more, especially when it comes to words. Less. Words. But after praying and breathing and thinking and waiting, well, it’s time to be a woman of action, a mom on the move who moves with confidence and conviction, but ensures that there is a proper time and place for discussion.
SPEAK. Words of wisdom. Direct. Clear. Thoughtful. Hopeful. Redemptive. WORDS of wisdom that offer redemption to the situation. Consequences that move towards healing. Sometimes the natural consequences set in motion by choices take away the need to put more consequences in place. But if there is a need for consequences, speak words of life that move towards healing. Towards Growing. Towards Being welcomed back in if there’s been a shutting out. Words that move toward hope. Words that heal…and offer a way out of the darkness.
ACCEPT. Accept that… this child? This child can and will make choices and respond according to what they think, feel, believe. We are all born with a will….free will. The response just might may not look like one wants it to. Accept. Again, Rome wasn’t built in a day. To accept doesn’t mean to accept sinful decisions, but accept that your child has a heart and mind of their own that cannot be controlled by another. It can be trained, molded, shaped, encouraged, but….it will still forge it’s own way. The heart will still respond as it will, but if it is coerced and manipulated, the long term goal may be sacrificed for a short term response. ACCEPT that there is much in life that we so cannot control. This is not in reference to consequences provided for providing consequences is a necessary part of parenting. The acceptance of which I’m speaking has to do with the issues of the heart…
HOPE. This moment does not need to define the parent or child. Does it have an impact? Yes. Are there consequences? Most often, yes. Is it difficult and or embarrassing and hard to move beyond? Yes, maybe so. But is there hope? YES, a resounding YES! I love how God can sometimes make the most beautiful of lessons to come out of heartache. He can use it. But we need to offer it to Him…That’s where the redemptive process often begins…
…and in that offering the situation back up to Him the cycle continues. Pray. Breathe. Forgive. Think. Wait. Speak. Accept. Hope.
And last? REMEMBER. Remember moments of being like a lost sheep who needed to be back in the fold. Remember the need for grace, the need for God in my own life. Remember the great things about your child, for in times like this it’s easy to become unbalanced. It’s as though one thing, one incident can paint everything black. Don’t paint it black. Keep perspective in the LIGHT of God’s grace. Don’t paint the situation black. There’s hope. Bring light and life into the situation by remembering God’s grace for you and His grace towards His children. After all…this child….was His before he or she was yours. I need to enTRUST my child to His care above all else. Trust.
Well, I feel a little better. Still have the pit-in-the-stomach feel with regards to our present “lose-lose situation.” But I’m choosing to believe that when placed in the Hands of God, our loss can be transformed into gain. Gain. What kind of gain? A Long-term, lesson-learned, eternally impacting kind of gain that takes a loss and allows the pain and grief from loss and regret to be transformed into something beautiful. Beautiful. It’s amazing what can happen when we offer up to God that which we cannot change to the One who makes All things NEW. He is the Great Redeemer. He can use situations that are brought to Him. So sister? Mom to Mom…let’s commit to bringing our pits-in-the-stomach situations to Him, and I have a feeling, that in time, we’ll have amazing testimonies to what God has done. No, things don’t always look like we want them to and life is full of heart-wrenching moments. But I just love how God can take the most desperate of situations and breathe hope into them, redeem them, and use them for His glory. Praying with faith that He will move in our hearts and the hearts of our children as we trust in Him.
So, Pray. B r e a t h e. Forgive. Think. Wait. Accept. Hope. Remember. and then do it again…and again…and again…And if that pit-in-the-stomach feeling just persists and won’t go away in the midst of trying to continually offer the situation up to God? Well, it’s my firm belief that a little dark chocolate can’t hurt! Keep pressing on, friend. God loves us. He knows us and loves us….and uses situations like this to not just grow up our children, but to grow us up as well and draw us nearer to Him. Knowing Christ is an ‘all-surpassing’ gift that swallows up the loss and replaces it with more than what we could imagine. When placed in the hands of Christ, even lose-lose situations can be turned into gain…not just for us, but for our children. I’m so very thankful for that.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,
for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.”