Throwing up as I barely made it to the bathroom to hit the toilet. My stomach was rolling and smells made it worse. I never get sick – not since flu in high school, so this had to mean I was pregnant. I bought a pregnancy test and sure enough I was. We called the parents and shared it with friends, found a doctor and started taking the prenatal vitamins, which I could not keep down for many days of the first few months. Due in late February of 1989, I discovered we were going to be 2300 miles away from my mother and support when I gave birth to my first child. Not a fun thought for me. It was the first step toward being a Mom.
Parenting. So many ideas of what I wanted to be as a Mom and do as a mother. Wanting them to understand and love who Jesus was and how to live for Him and the difference that would make in our home. Many of these things were done and shared. We home schooled a bit in younger years and then again for my son in later years of school. Always with a Godly perspective and explaining why and what and who He was and how we were to live for Him.
But my dreams and thoughts of the perfect Godly home did not take into account my past abuse and its affect on my need to control and use guilt and anger to bring those dreams about. Seems contradictory. It was and yet I prayed and asked forgiveness of my kids and tried again. I had fears of them walking away from the Lord or getting hurt physically or sexually, so the control continued. I loved my kids, worked to keep dialogue open and yet was afraid of any challenges to things of faith. I over-talked the Gospel and quoted Scripture for every doubt or failure or challenge they faced. I really did care about their eternity. It was central to my thoughts. But I was trying to be like God to them as I was still not trusting Him with what truly mattered to me – remember the schizophrenic faith that believed God was the only way to heaven, but not trusting Him with the details of what really mattered to me, like my marriage, kids, finances, etc?
Yes, that ugly monster was loose!
Then my kids began to struggle with spiritual, things and the world was having a sway on their hearts and I went into deep panic mode and upped my fearful prayers and conversations with them, guilt and anger, confession and asking forgiveness – REPEAT. I meddled and pushed and argued and preached. I began to ask the Lord what I had done wrong and why this was happening, but it continued and I had no answers. The teen years were a disaster and then college and I felt them slipping away as I tried to speak truth and supported them as best I knew. I was a mess, my home was a mess. My dreams were not coming true. My brokenness had been passed on to my kids and I had pushed too hard and my husband kept telling me to stop trying to be my kid’s best friend as they needed a Mom and had plenty of friends.But I struggled because I felt this failure with my kids to walk with Jesus was a reflection on my work as a parent to teach and model and train them up in the Lord.
I didn’t let go well as they got older. I cried and prayed, cried and prayed. Got in the middle of things I should not have, trying to be their Savior. I had made a mess and what a mess it was…
Then I hit my own wall and forgave my abuser and I finally understood what I had been doing to my kids for years – living out of fear, and pressuring them to believe something only God can cause anyone to believe. I had been legalistic – teaching a moral life instead of applying the Gospel to the hardness of life and the questions that needed grace and truth, not fear-mongering and debate.
The transformation has been slow in the relationship with my kids. I am learning to extend grace, letting God speak to them when and how He wants to about life and eternity. They are fully on their own, making their own choices. I have asked forgiveness for the battering, for the fear, for trying to be God to them and for them. They know more of my story and the whys of my over-reaction. It doesn’t change the past, just casts light and softens the view they have held of me over the years. I have often wished to have done it differently – more softly, more passionately, less fearfully. And yet I know the Lord had me in process through it all and the process was supposed to be a part of their life as my kids. God makes no mistakes. They were supposed to be my kids and I was supposed to be their Mom. We are both born broken by sin and in need of God’s salvation and transformation from His Word through His Son Jesus. We were intended to knock off each other’s rough edges -they mine and mine theirs.
Living backward is not God’s purpose for my life and I choose to call and talk with my kids and love them where they are and where they are going, letting Him be their God. I cannot change the past. I can acknowledge it, ask forgiveness for it, and make new choices in light of it. The past has shaped me and my children. Only God knows the final outcome of the initial dream of them knowing the Lord and walking with Him daily. But it is in His hands – something I should have acknowledged all those years ago when the doctor removed my first baby, a girl, and laid her on my tummy and said hold on to her, we need to go to recovery. I looked into her eyes and knew I I had entered a new phase. I was a mother. Was I ready? How would I do? Time has answered that and said, “The best you could with what you had. Now live forward and trust the Lord for their todays and tomorrows. I have got them. Trust me.” And so I choose to trust Him.
This section will look different than previous weeks as I wanted to share who my kids are and what they are doing today:
My daughter is 26 years old, lives in Portland, OR, and is a registered nurse at a surgical clinic. She is passionate about the rights of women to be treated fairly. She is an advocate of those who fall through the cracks and get mistreated by culture. She loves hiking and the outdoors, exploring the mountains and lakes of Oregon and Washington. She has a boyfriend named Billy and a pup named Huron.
My son is 22, currently lives in Ypsilanti, MI, but has been to Alaska and Idaho in the past 9 months, helping with the Yukon Quest, cooking, cleaning, hiking, exploring. On his journeys he has met a young lady named Natasha and they are in a relationship. He currently works at a brewery in Ypsilanti, but has dreams of returning to Alaska, which I am sure will happen.
My children have inherited a love of the outdoors, learning new things, and working to bring justice to the under-served and mistreated or wounded of the world. I am grateful to the Lord for them. My dreams look different than the current view, but the Lord knows them and He is at work in them and our futures are His.
I have been broken by sin. My kids have been broken by sin. God is good. God is faithful. God has us all under construction. He will be glorified and does NOT need my help as He is perfect at all He does. Thank the Lord for that!
How About You?
- What has being a parent looked like in your home?
- How is the Lord at work in your family through your combined brokenness?
- Where did you want to be by now and what needs to be surrendered to the Lord to get there?
- How can I be praying for your family?
- We sometimes need someone to pray with and process life to make changes: How can I be a part of helping your story change and have a better outcome?