We cannot do better for our children than to commit them to the Lord Jesus, to be wrought upon, and prayed for, by him.
At a birthday party one warm Saturday afternoon several weeks ago, my youngest son, just 2 years old, managed to fall into a pool.
I had forgotten that it was to be a pool party, so we had arrived without swimsuits or flotation devices of any kind. I watched Shortstop like a hawk for an hour, and when he was occupied with the other kids, playing games on the grass, I stepped away for a few minutes to make a quick phone call to my husband to let him know where we were.
All of a sudden, one of the moms at the party came running up to me telling me that my baby was drowning. I started running and saw them lifting a blue, lifeless baby out of the pool. I discovered later that the young brother of the birthday girl had seen Shortstop and called out, and his fourteen-year old cousin had quickly pulled my little son out and saved his life.
By the time I arrived at my son’s side, he had vomited and was awake and crying. I held him until the paramedics arrived and checked him out all over. They noticed that his color was off- he was a dusky gray, though, rather than blue, thankfully. They also noticed that while he was responsive and breathing on his own, he was quite lethargic. Not at all what my active, energetic, mischievous little two-year-old should be. They told me they would be taking him to the hospital because of the possibility of secondary drowning, where inhaled liquid can act as an irritant in the lungs, causing a serious condition or death.
The paramedics took us in the ambulance to the closest hospital and when we arrived there were many medical people surrounding us. They hooked my baby up to monitors, examined his throat and body, rolled an X-ray machine into the room and took X-rays of his lungs, took his blood and did all sorts of things.
After about an hour, Shortstop perked up. He started telling me the colors of everything in the room and babbling sweet and silly nonsense and generally becoming more like himself. My husband had managed to track us down and arrived in time to here Shortstop tell me some silly knock-knock jokes. “Knock-knock, who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange gla….sses.”
The doctor came in at some point and told me that there was no fluid in his lungs, his initial blood test had shown that he had experienced a stressful, traumatic event, but his second blood test was totally normal. He had had a close call, but he expected my little son to be just fine. I was very overwhelmed with gratitude and relief.
We were then transferred to Kaiser Hospital to be kept under observation for the night. He slept well and was very cheerful, charming all of the nurses the next morning. The doctor told me, as she released us, that she expected that he would be just fine.
And he is.
I spent the next day staring into space and crying. Crying and praying grateful praises to my God and Savior. Thank you, Lord, that you were watching over my child when I wasn’t.
Now, in hindsight, there are so many things I would do differently. But still, it struck me that next day how thankful I am that my children are not really my own.
These precious children I carried to term, birthed, nursed, rock, kiss, hug, teach, play and pray with, do not actually belong to me. They are a gift from God. I am his steward, his representative, and to a certain extent, I am responsible to care for them, protect them, train them, and raise them according to his standards. Because in the end, God is the one who is truly and ultimately responsible for them.
There will be so many times in my life when I cannot watch them, cannot be with them, cannot hover over them and protect them from every evil and danger they will face. It is so good to know that there is a God who is everywhere and all-powerful who loves them and watches over them.
I’ve noticed that it is so incredibly easy to fall into the trap of parenting out of fear. There are thousands of articles that try to persuade you to do things their way because if you don’t, dire consequences will follow.
If you spank your child, you are giving them brain damage, and they will turn out resentful, violent, and probably criminals. If you don’t spank your child, you are a permissive parent and your children will not understand consequences, but will grow up self-centered, irresponsible and probably criminals. Let them cry it out, or they will learn to manipulate you. Don’t ever let them cry it out, or they will turn out hating you. There are endless debates on how to feed them, educate them, how to let them play, how to provide for them. Should you stay home or work? How much screen time? How do you celebrate the holidays? Sometimes I feel terrible weight in every choice: what books to read to them, what curriculum to buy, how much outdoor time to require, how many outings and events to schedule.
And then the more articles I read, the more stress I feel. Truly the author of Ecclesiastes knew what he was talking about: “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” (1:18)
There’s just so much pressure for parents. These children who have been entrusted to us are so important and we want to get it right. We don’t have another chance!
But there is no peace and no joy in parenting and making rules and choices for our children out of fear. We are doing no good to our children in letting fear and stress guide us, drive us, enslave us.
The choices we make in fear suffocate and damage. And fear not only damages our children and our relationships with them, but also our own bodies and spirits. Stress kills.
Furthermore, children are amazing copiers. If we let fear rule us, they will pick up on that and let fear rule them too. We want better for our children and we want better for ourselves. God wants better for us..
What can we do instead?
1. Pray. Pray for them, pray for our decisions, pray for ourselves, pray for the world, pray for our communities, pray for the church.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you. I Peter 5:8
We should pray about the big things in our lives and in the world, but we can also pray about the little things. The other day, I was stressing out- much more than was warranted- about which Language Arts curriculum to use next year. I was really struggling with feeling anxious about it until I realized what I was doing. I lifted the matter to the Lord and asked him to give me wisdom at the right time. Then in the meantime, I committed to stop worrying about it and also stop thinking about it altogether.
What do you know? The very next day, I was at the park with a number of other homeschool moms and a particular mom had some experience with one of my choices and was able to give me some very valuable information and advice. Not all of my prayers are answered so quickly, but He always answers.
2. Love. We need to remember that these little persons we are raising actually belong to God. We need to make wise choices. We need to raise them according to who God created them to be and not try to force them to be someone they are not. We need to develop loving, trusting relationships with our children and treat them with dignity and respect.
In Titus 2, older women are told to mentor the younger women. “They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children…”
(For example: Out of love and because of wisdom, I need to keep doing swim lessons, using flotation devices, and not letting my non-swimming children near the pool without someone specifically tasked to watch them!)
The key is that we must not make these decisions out of fear, but out of love and faith. Perhaps the choices we make will be the same, either way. But the difference lies in the heart. Our hearts will be at peace.
3. Trust. In the end, we must trust God with the results. We trust God when we triumph. We trust God when we fail. We trust Him because He is Love.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. I Timothy 1:7