August 24, 2014
I Didn't Know
I didn’t know, until I first felt his little hand tucked securely into mine, how much love my heart could contain. A passionate, fierce, intense love. A love so acute that it was almost painful. A love that nearly took my breath away.
I didn’t know, when the Lord saw my empty arms, when I begged him for a child, for an opportunity to be a mother, to imprint my life upon the life of another, that this was the child He had chosen for me. This charming, magnetic child who attracted people’s notice wherever he went. Who would walk into a room and instantly meet his next best friend. Who would go outside early in the morning so that he could knock on the new neighbors’ door and ask, “Do you have any kids my age?” This bright, curious boy who taught himself to read when he was four years old. Who carefully drew up architectural plans for his LEGO blocks, and made sure that the plans were followed accurately. Who chose as his topic for his essay: “The Difference Between Alchemy and Nuclear Fusion.” (Sorry, buddy. If you want my help with your homework, you’re going to have to pick a different topic. Or go ask your father.)
I didn’t know, when I was filling out those mountains of adoption paperwork all those years ago, what kind of mother I would turn out to be. Subconsciously, I suppose, I had envisioned that I would be patient and kind through every tear and tantrum, never using a harsh word, always having wise, tender advise ready on my lips. That I would aptly discern my child’s interests and talents, tirelessly nurturing him to become the best musician/athlete/student/artist that God created him to be.
I would make nutritious meals out of whole foods with no preservatives, making sure to have his favorites ready for him when he walked in the door after soccer practice. After a Normal Rockwell moment of family devotions, I would tuck him into bed each night with a kiss and a prayer.
I would study the latest child-rearing books, seeking tips and techniques about raising a responsible, well-adjusted child. About growing him God’s way, about daring to discipline, about shepherding his heart. I would be such a stellar example of motherhood that perhaps someday, when he is grown and on his own, doing amazing things to change the world, I might even write a parenting book of my own.
I didn’t know that every day would be filled with thousands of decisions and doubts: Should I allow him to eat that cookie, or should I make him wait until dinner? Should I let him watch that tv show, or should I insist that he read a book or play outside instead? Should I call him to return to his room and re-make his bed that wasn’t done correctly, or should I show him grace by making it for him?
I didn’t know that I would be so distracted with so many unimportant things. That the distractions would cause my patience to be so limited. You can show me your drawing later. You’re interrupting me. Be quiet and go play somewhere else. Can’t you see how busy I am?
I didn’t know that I was capable of using harsh words in a moment of anger that I would later deeply regret. Stop that! Knock it off! I am your mother, and you will not speak to me that way.
I didn’t know that I would be so tired, so weary at the end of another busy day, that the Norman Rockwell moments rarely happened. I’ll read you a bedtime story next time. Get back in bed. No, I’m not going to tuck you in again, I already did!
I didn’t know that all too soon he would stop showing me his drawings. He would stop interrupting me. That eventually, he would stop speaking to me altogether. I’ll listen now, I want to say. I promise that I will stop whatever insignificant activity I’m doing, and I will give you my full attention, complete with eye-contact and everything! But it’s too late. I got what I wished for: silence.
I didn’t know that, while I was weighing the pros and cons of homeschool v. private school; when I was losing sleep over which math curriculum to use; every time I pestered him to eat more vegetables or nagged him about his sloppy handwriting or complained about the holes in his jeans; what I should have been doing instead was praying for his heart. Striving to develop his character. Letting him know in countless, various, creative ways – every single day! – how much I love him. How much God loves him.
I didn’t know that taking him to Sunday School, helping him memorize Bible verses, listening to uplifting and encouraging music on the radio, sending him to summer camp with the youth group at church – that none of it would be enough. That none of the training in the way he should go would be enough to guarantee that, when he is old, he would not depart from it. None of it would be enough to protect him from walking away.
I didn’t know that in his rebellion, in his foolish decisions, in his anger and hatred and disregard for authority – that even then I would love him just as passionately as I did the moment I first held him. That I would learn how to love even when I received nothing in return. That I would learn how to love, not the son I dreamed of having, but the one God blessed me with. Not with a begrudging, disappointed love out of obligation, but with a fierce, powerful love that still feels as if it will burst my ribcage.
I didn’t know that I would one day be waging a violent war against a dangerous enemy, an enemy whose goal is to destroy my son’s soul. That I would feel the heavy, almost physical weight sucking the oxygen right out of my lungs, and that I would need to storm the gates of hell to rescue my son from that enemy’s grasp. That, in spite of my deep, paralyzing fear, I would be screaming shamelessly into the darkness, Get out of my home. Get away from my son. You are not welcome here. There is power in the name of Jesus that is infinitely more powerful than you will ever be. In His name, you have already been defeated!
I didn’t know how desperately I would seek truth and wisdom from God’s Word, practically ripping off my proverbial fingernails to keep from tumbling into the deep, perilous abyss of darkness that threatened to pull me in.
I didn’t know how tightly I would cling, trusting, determined with every ounce of faith to believe, to hope, that His promises are true. The promise that He hears my voice when I cry to Him, when I wait in expectation.1 The promise that there will be a harvest to reap if I do not give up.2 The promise that He will guard my mind with His peace when I lay the burdens of my heart before Him.3
I didn’t know what it meant to find forgiveness at the cross. What it meant to have my burdens lifted at Calvary. What it meant to let go of the guilt and regret for not being the parent I had hoped to be. The wise, patient, loving mother that my son should have had.
I didn’t know how badly I needed to understand His grace. That it’s not about whether I’m a perfect mother or not. That He doesn’t love me more if I do everything just right, and, in my failures and weaknesses, His love for me does not diminish one bit.
I didn’t know that His grace is sufficient.4 That I would learn to depend, not upon my love or my skill or my wisdom, but wholly, completely, upon Him. That when I surrender my efforts, my desire to achieve, then His purposes can be accomplished. Then miracles can happen.
Some day, in eternity, when my faith becomes sight, when my son and I are both kneeling in the presence of Jesus – and as long as there is breath in me I refuse to give up hope that my son will be there too! - I will see with clarity the extraordinary ways that God accomplished His plans in my son’s life. I will understand that all of these tears and prayers and sleepless nights had a purpose far beyond what I could have understood here on earth. I will see how He made everything beautiful in His perfect time.5
And I will say, I’m sorry, Father. How I wish I would have trusted You more. I didn’t know.
And He will say, You’re right, you didn’t know. But all along, I knew. I knew what I was doing. I loved this child more infinitely than you can ever imagine. I knew him even before he was born, and I had a plan that could never be thwarted.6 This was the path I chose for him so that My work would be displayed in his life.7
All along, My Beloved, when you didn’t know. When your faith faltered. In the darkest night when you could not see. I did. I knew. All along, He will say, as He wipes my tears and lifts my head and embraces my son, all along, I knew.
1. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. – Psalm 5:3
2. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
3. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
4. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
5. He has made everything beautiful in its time. – Ecclesiastes 3:11
6. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? – Isaiah 14:27
7. This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. – John 9:3