Fear is what causes us to stand in the way when God is trying to do something in our children’s lives.
When children fail tests, we are afraid they will fail at life..
When children are having a hard time with friends or finding a friend, we fear they will live their entire lives alone.
There are as many fears as there are mothers.
Betsy Brown Braun, a child development and behavior specialist, wisely said, “You prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.”
Fear does not allow our children to grow.
I have never seen a child learn to walk without faltering or falling. A baby’s first steps are halting, off-balance, and altogether ungraceful, but we don’t critique any of that..
Think how absurd it would be to see parents watching a child walk for the first time and hearing a conversation like this, Man! He is so ungraceful! I hope he learns to walk okay. He needs to speed up a little. I think we need to make a special sidewalk for him because the cement sidewalk is just too dangerous. In fact, let’s pave the whole world with a safe material.
You also don’t see parents excited that their child took a first step immediately shout, Yay! Let’s take him outside and put him on a steep cement driveway to see how he does!
Clearly, we protect them and allow them on paths and in places that they are ready for, but we also can’t shield them from every fall, scrape, and bruise.
When a new little walker, falls, we encourage him or her by saying, Get up! Try it again! Sometimes they do fall and get hurt, and then we take time to comfort, bandage, and instruct, but we don’t ban them from ever walking again. They need to learn.
The same is true for our children as they are growing. As parents, we get to teach our children how to handle adversity. Honestly, this is one of the hardest parts of parenting for me.
When my family faces adversity, it has helped us to ask questions.
What do you think God is trying to show you through this?
What can you learn about how to treat others?
What are you learning about yourself that needs to change?
When you find yourself in a situation like this again, what can you do differently?
How do you think God could use this in your life?
Adversity is not an enemy in our children’s lives. It’s not an enemy in our lives. It is never pleasant, easy, or fun to walk through, but it can produce beauty in our lives. Some of the most beautiful people I know have the ugliest stories, but they have allowed God to make beautiful things out of the dust of their lives.
Father, I pray that the adversity we are facing will be a testimony of Your goodness, grace, and hand in our lives. I choose to respond to my children’s trials with hope and trust rather than in fear. Show me how to point them to You and to help them to have Your perspective on this situation. Thank You that You care and are actively working in our lives. Amen.
When my children come against hard things in their lives, my tendency is to wonder what I have done wrong.
Did I schedule enough playdates when they were young?
Why do they spend so much time interacting with friends?
Did I enroll them in enough activities?
Are they in too many activities?
Should I have been more involved in this, that, or the other thing?
Should I have been less involved in this, that, or the other thing?
Should we have served less; should we have served more?
Should we have, should we have, should we have, should we have…?
Do you see the problem ?
I think our tendency as parents is to think that somehow if we do things correctly, our kids will encounter little adversity, and that they will be well-rounded, good at everything, or at least outstanding at something, confident, social, friends of everyone all while having healthy relationships with God and family.
It sounds silly in writing, but from the amount of mom guilt we experience, I think at the gut level, this is what we believe because this is how we function so much of the time.
But, wait a minute. We forget. We forget that our children have a sin nature and so does every single person in their lives. Not only that, but the hard in their life is necessary.
What if the hard is the very thing that is needed to make our children into the people God wants them to be? What if the pressure here is the very thing that forms compassion in them? What if the hard knock over there is the very thing that develops the perseverance they need to handle what God knows their lives will hold? What if that loneliness is the thing that drives them to the One Who truly knows them? What if some of the things they experience aren’t the result of something we haven’t done or have done, but instead is the hand of God fashioning them and forming them? What if that bad decision provides the exact moment God needs to bring them to Himself?
Joseph’s life was full of adversity, but it was that adversity that developed the character he needed to fulfill God’s purpose for Him. I am guessing if he were asked if he could have traded the adversity for a regular life, he would not trade it.
In my own life, it is through adversity that I have become more grounded and have grown and understood more of God’s heart toward me and others. This includes both the adversity brought on by life and the adversity brought on by my own sin and selfishness.
Let’s try to get out of the way and allow God to work in our children’s lives..
Let’s trust that He can use the adversity in our children’s lives to make something beautiful.
Let’s give up our need to control and instead pray His Kingdom come, His will be done in our kids’ lives.
Father, I thank You that You are always working in our lives. Please help me to get out of the way and not fear adversity in my children’s lives. Help me to help them through the pain and to point them to You. Give me the wisdom to not shield them from those things that You are doing to mature them. I trust You with their hearts and with mine. Thank You for holding our lives in Your hand. Amen.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
When my kids encounter difficulty, whether it is with friends or life in general, I want to protect.
I want to make the path a little more straight and even. I want to remove the rocks and make a pavement of foam.
I have to fight against making them think the world should revolve around them and and instead teach them that sometimes things simply don’t go their way— and that is the way of life. Instead, I encourage them to genuinely cheer for those who get what they want. Not only that, but when they are treated unkindly, I show them how to love with grace those who treat them wrongly.
I have to fight against demeaning the ones who hurt my children to make my children feel better or superior. Instead, I use the opportunity to teach them mercy and compassion.
Honey, she is probably having a hard time. When people say things like that, it shows that they are a little broken inside. What do you think you could do to help her? Let’s pray and see what God thinks about this and ask Him to give you compassion and wisdom so that you will know how to handle this.
Son, that must have really hurt. Guys your age are just trying to feel secure and they sometimes put others down so that they can feel better about themselves. Let’s talk about what’s true about you and what’s not. Let’s pray for wisdom that you will know what to do when this happens and let’s pray for him.
I have to love my children enough that when they make wrong choices I enact consequences that can sometimes be difficult for me.
I desperately need God’s wisdom to go beyond what is happening in the moment and get His perspective on the situation at hand. He always has one. That’s the amazing thing about being in relationship with Him. He has all of the wisdom that we will need for our children, and He loves to give it to us.
Just like Joseph, Moses, David, Esther, Joshua, Paul and so many others throughout history, God marries His wisdom with my children’s situation (or mine for that matter), and it will become something beautiful in their (our) lives. We can waste our situations by having a small perspective or wrong reactions, but when we get His perspective and wisdom, He will use it to work His character into our lives.
Joseph had the perspective that he needed to see his situation for what it was. When his brothers found out that this powerful ruler they stood in front was the brother they had sold, they were understandably afraid. Listen to Joseph’s response to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Joseph had perspective. He had suffered much so many could be saved. (Joseph points me to Jesus; I, too, want to point my children to Jesus.) I am guessing he thought it was worth it.
Father, please help me to see my children’s situations as You do. Give me wisdom to teach them to handle adversity by gaining Your perspective and relating with others as You do—with love and grace. Give me the wisdom I need to guide them down the correct path. Thank You that I can come to You on behalf of and with my children, and You will provide everything we need to walk through whatever life holds. Amen.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
Mom, my friend told me I’m not good at anything I do.
Mom, I didn’t make the team, and all of my best friends did.
Mom, I failed another test, and I really tried.
Mom, I have no friends.
Mom, I need to tell you something I’ve done.
As any mom knows, hearing such words from your child can release a thousand emotions. These are problems we can’t fix. We can’t put a band-aid on these things and make them all better.
When they were really little, we could soothe most of their aches and pains because the injuries weren’t necessarily pains of the heart. I mean, maybe little George Fishington died because you accidently knocked his eye out while cleaning his bowl (didn’t know that could happen? Yeah, it can) but that didn’t devastate like losing a friend.
We can listen, we can pray, we can help as much as we can, but in the end a lot of the things our kids encounter in life are beyond our control.
As my kids have gotten older and are entering junior high and highschool years, I am finding that there are many things I cannot fix or guard against. What they are encountering is real life. I hate it sometimes. Sometimes my heart aches. I have enough friends with kids my kids’ ages to know that this is an universal ache. I’ve seen the flash in the eye of mothers when they recount stories of their children’s broken hearts It’s the mama bear reaction you have when your kid is messed with. I’ve heard and had the agonizing question of, “NOW what do I do?”
I have to trust. We have to trust.
We have to trust that God will “work all things according to His purposes for those who love Him” as it says in Romans 8:28.
We don’t have to get very far into the Bible to realize that the very things that cause us pain result in beauty.
In Genesis 37-50, we read about Joseph’s life. We know that Rebekah died in childbirth when Joseph was quite young. Surely her mother heart would have been devastated had she known the difficult turn Joseph’s life would take. God’s purpose for him was to be a deliverer for his people, but first he needed some tools. His brothers sold him as a slave; he was sold in Egypt and then spent years wrongly accused and forgotten in prison. Despite his outward troubles, he remained devoted to God. God gave him the ability to interpret dreams, and after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, he was released from prison and became second in power.. His family, including the very brothers who sold him in the first place, were saved because God worked through Joseph.. He was able to handle his power because of the things he had been through. In fact, it was the adversity that got him to Egypt in the first place,by way of a slave trading caravan.
We see this pattern not only with Joseph, but also with Moses, David, Esther, Joshua, Paul and many others throughout the Bible as well as many other men and women throughout history.
God uses adversity to work those things into our lives and the lives of our children to accomplish His purposes. They are not needless things, but needed things. When it is all said and done, we will see.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT)
Father, thank You that You have a purpose for my children. Thank You that though some of the experiences they have to go through will be difficult, You will use those things for good in their lives. Give me wisdom to help them navigate through those hard places and to point them to You. I choose to trust You.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
I’m on the other end of the playground these days. I don’t do playdates anymore. And it’s okay. Sometimes, though, I see that one woman who looks like I used to look. She’s so tired. Her kids are screaming, the baby’s crying, and she’s alone. I see her eyes, and I recognize myself.
So, I take the opportunity to look into her eyes and say, “You’re doing holy work, you know. It’s hard, the days are long, but the work is good. It will get easier, and you’ll look back and see accomplishment. I promise to pray for you today.”
It takes almost no time at all, but when motivated by love for Him and with intention to bless in His Name, the impact is staggering. We don’t always see the fruit this side of heaven, but I imagine, sometimes, how moments like this might play out in eternity:
I’d had a horrible week. They were draining every last drop from me, and I couldn’t imagine going on and on and on. But, then, you said that; you took the time to see me—and you didn’t judge me. You prayed for me. I saw Jesus in your eyes. Thank you.
Yes, we are powerful, moms, because He is powerful, and He lives in us. We have the opportunity to lift or crush. It takes much more courage to lift; crushing is cowardly. It’s the stuff of this world, not of our Savior.
This world isn’t a playground; it’s a battlefield. And even in the floor-sweeping, laundry-folding, face-wiping, baby-feeding moments, we are warriors. It’s impossible to imagine on most days, and the enemy prowls and seeks desperately to discourage and derail us. But, I am convinced as we heed our calling to train our children, love them as best we can, shelve ourselves, and thus, show them Christ, we stand at the door of our homes, and say, Not today, devil. Not this home.
Further, let’s commit to protecting one another. To being an encourager. To being builders. To saying the words Spirit lays on our hearts. Just open your mouth. And I will, too.
So, eyes up, knees knelt, hands empty, sisters. We’ve got work to do.
I pray, Father, that even today, You'd push me to her—that young one with young ones who needs encouragement. And give me Your words. Let her see You in me. Strengthen her. Strengthen me to boldness in your Name. Equip us with spiritual battle gear. Grace us with holy vision in holy work. And, thank You, for entrusting us. In Your Son's beautiful name, Amen.