Guess what. The kids will never be settled. Not completely.
Sure, some of the things I want for them will fall into place. They may have moments, even stretches, of happy, but I’m slowly learning that life is like one of those crazy tennis ball shooters, and it never turns off. They might dodge and volley successfully for a while, but they’re never going to get an extended rest.
No one does.
They’re going to get hit, and there’s not a single thing I can do about it. Now, you might think this realization would overwhelm or depress me, but it’s actually a bit of a relief. You see, I know what I have to do, and this truth makes the job a little easier.
I don’t know about the rest of you parents, moms in particular, but I’ve been waiting twenty-three years for the ache in my heart to subside, the one that began when my oldest was born, the one that ebbs and flows with my children’s successes and failures, health and illness, joy and sadness. Dreading the squeeze of adrenaline that has followed every one of my babies’ cries, children’s tears, teenagers’ pained expressions, and young adults’ vulnerable texts, I’ve poured much to most of my time and energy into heading them off, not even hoping for awesome, just normal, so my weary heart can rest.
That’s no way to live.
First of all, it’s wrong. My time and energy? It belongs to God—all of it—and I have sacrificed way too much of it on the altar of the life I imagined for my children, something God may never even have had in mind for them.
Now, God’s been faithful to use what I have given Him to advance His Kingdom, and I’m grateful, but I can’t help wondering what He might have done through me if my attention hadn’t been quite as divided, if I’d had His glory in mind when making parenting decisions all along instead of just more recently. Whatever He might have done, I’m sure He accomplished it in other ways, but I hate that I missed out on opportunities to participate. Even more, I hate that I missed out on opportunities to express my devotion and gratitude to the Father for all He’s done for me.
Second, it’s a bad example to set for my children, whose greatest good is achieved when God is glorified and His Kingdom, their inheritance as born-again believers, grows.
God’s receiving the praise and worship He deserves for being Who He is and doing what He’s done is more important than anything else. Anything. Of course, I’ve known all along it was more important than my own happiness and have done my best to prove that. However, it’s also more important than my children’s happiness, and I know my words and actions to this point haven’t always conveyed that truth.
Well, today, that changes. Todd and I are empty nesters now, so it might seem like a moot point, but it’s not. Once a parent, always a parent. For the rest of their lives, I will be making decisions that affect my children—their children, too, if that’s what God has in mind for them—and I’m going to spend that time giving God His due, no matter the cost.
I thought I might feel a little anxious about this resolution, but I’m really not. I know and truly believe that God is working all things together for my family’s good because we all love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). What’s more, He’s not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). If something is His will for me, then it’s His will for my loved ones, too.
Like I said before, the kids are never going to settle anyway. If they suffer as a result of my obedience, at least the sting will count for something good and lasting. At most, it will deepen their faith.