I went lurking around on Facebook one night when I couldn’t sleep and saw a comment by someone … could it be; is it she? She was thin as a young woman and this woman is thin, longer hair and a bit graying. Maybe it is. I traveled back in time 22 years or so. My, how she rocked that grand piano in our church, what a gift! And she came to us when we were so needy when our former pianist moved away. She was a school teacher, married, and longed for a child of her own but had difficulty conceiving. Well, it just so happened that our church had prayed in a few miracle babies, so I’m thinking she came to the right place.
Several months passed, maybe a year or two … time does get away. It was our monthly women’s ministry meeting. At the end, our leader offered a time for individual specific prayer and asked that she play the piano. Compassion and empathy filled my heart as I watched her play. My family was complete – three little boys. She had none. No one at that particular moment was praying for her. It seemed a bit awkward, but I couldn’t ignore the internal nudge, the compulsion. I moved toward the piano and knelt down beside her. I didn’t know if she could hear me (remember, she really rocked the piano). After a couple of minutes, the keys stopped abruptly, she grabbed my hand. Many tears fell. I left that evening with an overwhelming peace and relief. I know that many others prayed as well over these months. Nine months later, she delivered a healthy baby boy. Shortly thereafter, she moved away with her husband and newborn baby.
I surmised if this is she, this young man I see in the picture with her on Facebook must be that miracle baby, but wait; there’s a young lady in the picture too. Did she have another? Was she blessed a second time? I had to take a chance and asked, “Are you the one?”
And so, as I drifted back to sleep, I pondered motherhood.
They come into our lives, so innocent, so adored. We are so blessed. We do not know what the future holds; but we hope, pray, and believe for a wonderful, full life. We’re riding high and really feeling that Proverbs 31 woman who can “laugh at the days to come.”
And the days come.
We want everything perfect. We handle everything with kid gloves. Even family members must sterilize to hold this precious one. Wash, wash, wash. We stay up on the latest and greatest trend for caring for our gift from God. They are dependent on us for every single thing. Nothing can go wrong here. Surely if we do our best, it will all work out in the end. Soon we learn that we are not perfect, no matter how hard we try. Accidents happen, life happens.
- I rested for just a moment leaning against the sofa and forgot that I hadn’t put up the gate. It had been a busy laundry afternoon up and down the stairs. I heard the walker wheels hit the tile and arrived at the bottom of the stairs at the same time as the walker, precious cargo still in the seat.
- I thought I was doing the correct thing taking my children to church. I had my five-month old baby bundled in my arms. The three of us scooted to the car after service against a bitter January wind. In a matter of seconds, not understanding exactly what happened, there we were sprawled on the parking lot.
Most of the time, everything is okay. All is well in the end regardless of our mistakes. But sometimes we are imparted grace to deal with the consequences of our mistakes and our poor choices. We are placed on earth to live out our lives. We have choices to make each day. We learn as we go, even from our mistakes, and pray for wisdom to keep the mistakes to a minimum.
There are so many decisions to make with our new responsibility. Do we make adjustments in our finances and way of life and stay at home full time, or do we return to the workforce? Surely if I devote myself to full-time, around-the-clock motherhood, that will be the best thing. But is it, was it? In later years, we wonder, shoulda coulda woulda …. we don’t really know. We’ve prayed, asked for guidance. But then we still have to make decisions. We do the best we can. And grace is there to help us through.
As our precious little ones grow, we guard their hearts as much as we guarded their physical well being the first few delicate years. We protect them from influences that we see as evil. Sometimes, against our better judgment, we have to let go. Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong. There are more choices to make, and we move on.
- Spank or timeout?
- Pre-school? Private, public, or home school?
- Competitive sports, recreational, or no sports at all? Do we spend money on dance lessons?
- When do we allow them to sleep over with a friend – maybe never?
We say “yes,” and we learn to say “no.” And we wonder if we are right. When someone hurts them, it’s like they’ve penetrated a knife straight into our heart. We cannot separate ourselves from that child. We are one, or so it seems.
And we pray more as they become teenagers. We draw lines and boundaries, but we learn to let go even more – to let them make choices. We have to. That is the natural order of things. We pray for wisdom to know. Who can know the answers? So we pray and receive grace. And we live with choices. We rejoice in their accomplishments and are there when they fall.
- What college do we suggest? Maybe it’s not the right time. Maybe it never will be.
- What we want may not be what they want. How do we influence? When do we influence?
And one day, that precious baby is grown. Sometimes we receive a call, sometimes not. Will they be home for Christmas? Will we be home for Christmas? No longer can we fix things. Maybe we never could. We still pray, but they may not be aware. We pray that they are making good choices, but it is out of our control. We love them and we pray some more. We hope that they think we were a good mother. We wonder ourselves.
We compare with others whose lives seem to be perfect and wonder where we went wrong, and we see others with even greater difficulties and count our blessings.
We reflect on all the years. There was laughter, there were tears. Most of us made it, a few did not. Who has the right to judge the whys and the hows? Are any of us almighty, all-knowing God? I think not. We did our best and even when we didn’t or couldn’t, we really were not the one in control. We pointed as best we could, but in the end, they have choices also. And their lives are separate from ours. They are individuals.
We still love; we still pray. But the choices are theirs. They must own them. (“… The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son …” Ezekiel 18:20).
Somehow we find peace with it all – the triumphs and the mistakes. We leave the mistakes with the one who can cover them, the one who can soften. Because He is the perfect one, the father of us all. It’s hard to imagine that He loves them more than we love them. They must come to know this too.
There are those who never had these joys and sorrows. They never had the choices, it was not their choice to be childless, and they do not know why. Some mothers have had to face the unthinkable – the loss of that precious one, the empty arms of the young mother and the empty nest of one lost later. Loss is loss, no matter the age. These are questions without answers. I don’t understand but am amazed that somehow His grace truly is sufficient for everything. Somehow, some way they go on. My heart goes out to the ones who have had to learn this extended grace of God.
Our parental course may not have been perfect, but it’s never too late to love, forgive ourselves for those imperfections, and find peace with our journey. And, yes, laugh at the days that have passed.
I awakened a few hours later and checked my messages. Indeed, it was she. And she confirmed that second miracle baby. She told me another story. I smiled at the goodness of God, that He granted the desire of her heart – twice. It was so nice to reconnect and remember.
I am sure that she dwelt on Psalm 37:4 much as she waited for an answer: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
But on that one particular evening when I was compelled to pray, her story reminds me of Hannah. I reminded God of his word above and that she did that with her gifted ministry to us. I believe we wailed.
In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord … and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” I Samuel 1:10-20. (NIV)
And life continued on …