“At least in heaven we’ll be friends again.”
Tears fell from her eyes as she imparted a final hope regarding a relational struggle she’s been dealing with for the past six months. Tears fell from my eyes as well. As a mother, my greatest personal pains have always been attached to the pains of my children’s hearts. Whatever they’re carrying, I tend to carry as well.
It would be easier if I could divorce myself from the struggle, but that’s not the deal. Parenting doesn’t come with pause buttons or expiration dates. Twenty-nine years ago, I didn’t understand the magnitude of what parenting love would encompass, but I did understand at least one thing going in:
I would do everything within my power to keep my children safe.
Safe. Protected. No harm done. Minimal exposure to danger or risk.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that, as it pertains to their safety, my ability to control it was limited.
Fevers. Scraped knees. Upset tummies. Playground taunts. Broken bones. Broken relationships. Outside intrusions of all manners and manipulations. No, I wasn’t going to be able to prevent them all. Multiplied times four and, well let’s just say, my kids’ strife has earned for me my parenting stripes.
Even today, I still want to keep them safe, but after years of not being able to manage it perfectly, I understand something further, something deeper as it pertains to this shaping, parental love:
A mother’s safety can sometimes be restrictive to the neglect of being instructive.
When my well-meaning desire to make their pain go away prohibits their pain from being a way to mature them, then I have limited (and underestimated) the power of the tender moment.
It’s not that I wish pain on them as some warped way of growing them. Never. Oh that our heart-shaping would come to us more through our laughter than through our tears! But I’ve lived long enough, cried hard enough, trod deep enough through my own personal sorrows to believe that they have, in fact, made me wiser and, more importantly, moved me closer to the heart of God.
When I can’t understand the why, I can run to the Who. And it’s there, in that sacred space of aching exploration, where I receive an understanding that cannot be found in a textbook and a rich comfort that cannot be bought from a shelf.
I find Jesus, a Savior who does not retreat from my pain but a Friend who enters into it. Who waits with me. Who stays with me. Who walks with me. Who mentors me.
Jesus comes to my pain, and to the pain of my children, and, if allowed, shapes a kingdom heart—a heart likened unto his own. A heart that lives through the pain so as to rise as a witness because of it.
I don’t know what lies ahead for my daughter as it pertains to her current heart struggle, but I do know that hope lives in her—a hope not anchored in false realities but, rather, a hope tethered to the truth of Jesus Christ. And for that alone (at least this time), I am willing to loosen my grip on the safety net I’ve been holding beneath her so that she might fall into firmer hands…
A God that will not let her go. A Father who will keep her safe and who will grow her into a bastion of strength, grace, and eternal nobility.
No, I cannot keep her safe this time.
Instead, I will allow Him to do so.
So, fly with Christ, sweet one. And, as always,
Peace for the journey,