Kids cause pain, and I was one of those mothers who wallowed in it. I felt every little disappointment, rejection, and heartache my children went through. If they were hurting, I was hurting twice as much. And if it was a major disappointment, rejection, or heartache my pain grew exponentially.
It may seem like fretting about your kids is the hallmark of a loving parent, but it was not healthy for me—or my children.
And I was not trusting God.
There’s an old adage that pretty much says how every parent feels at one time or another. “If I’d known what I know now, I’d have skipped the kids and gone straight to the grandkids.”
After she ate the apple, God told Eve, “In sorrow, thou shalt bring forth children.”
Sure, He was talking about the pangs of childbirth (those thorns Adam had to deal with were nothing compared to having something the size of a watermelon inside you—WITH ONLY ONE WAY OUT), but as every mother knows, the pain doesn’t stop there.
Eighteen was the magic number when I could stop worrying about my children. That’s what I thought. Was I ever wrong! The worry’s just getting started at eighteen.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t worry about them anymore, or that I don’t feel their pain.
But I’ve learned some principles and acquired some tools through the years that have greatly reduced my anxiety and that heart-wrenching ache that is so debilitating.
I intended to share some of my grueling stories, but I don’t have to. You have your own stories and your own struggles. Every parent knows that kids cause pain.
This article is not to tell you how to get your children to shape up. That’s not the answer, because they’re probably never going to live up to your expectations. Even if they do, things are going to happen to them that can break your heart.
This article is about you. It’s about walking in peace, no matter what’s going on around you.
So what’s the biggest hindrance to walking in peace when our kids are having problems?
We blame ourselves. If we’d just done this or that they wouldn’t be like they are.
Sure, you could have done a better job of raising your kids.
Sure, they might have been in a better place if you had disciplined them more, or if you hadn’t disciplined them so much. If you’d stayed married to their father or their mother, or if you had left.
There’s always something that you can find, no matter what kind of parent you’ve been.
When Adam fell, he let sin into the perfect world God had created for him. After that, every person born on the face of the earth was born in sin. How would you like to have that kind of failure hanging over your head?
Adam couldn’t fix it. And you can’t fix it either. Jesus did that when He died on the cross for our sins.
Just remember—if your good parenting could save your kids, they wouldn’t need a Savior.
It’s not up to us.
We’re not Jesus.
We can’t make our children perfect. And if we try, we’re probably going to mess them up.
God loves them more than we do. Much more. We should repent for the choices we’ve made that have adversely affected our children, then accept God’s forgiveness.
Remember that if you allow your children to rob you of your victory, you’re giving them control over your life. And control belongs to God.
Speaking of control, that’s another thing that brings anxiety. I know some parents that seek to control every aspect of their children’s lives—even their adult children. And when they can’t, it’s not the kids that suffer. It’s the controlling parent.
Children don’t grow if we control their lives. They don’t learn to function in the world. And we WILL lose control of them eventually. We are to shape our children’s lives through teaching and example. That’s not the same thing at all. Let’s let Jesus be in control of our kids. He’s better at it than we are.
So what are some of those tools and principles I was talking about?
When something happens to one of my children, I remind myself that God knows what’s going on.
Psalm 139: 2-5 You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do]; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and You are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O LORD, You know it all. Amplified
So, I have a choice. I can believe that God is watching and He cares about what’s happening to my children, or I can believe that He isn’t watching and he doesn’t care.
I believe God’s keeping a better eye on them than I ever could.
Next, I remind myself that God sees what I don’t see. He knows the end from the beginning.
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes could see me as an embryo, but in your book, all my days were already written; my days had been shaped before any of them existed. CJB
This is a difficult thing for us to understand. Our whole lives were written in His book before we were even born. Our days were shaped before any of them existed.
I won’t try to interpret that. I’ll just take it for what it says. God is not surprised by the things that happen to our children.
Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. NIV
If predestined is too strong a word for you, the Amplified says destiny. Our children have a destiny. God has a plan for them. And God works everything out to fit in with that plan because that plan is His will for their lives.
So if our children have a destiny, and they mess up their lives because we didn’t raise them perfectly, is God’s plan messed up? The verse in Ephesians says God works out EVERYTHING in conformity with the purpose of his will.
Child abuse? God works it into His plan.
What about divorce? Yup.
And if they get on drugs or alcohol? God uses it.
If they get sick? He doesn’t make them sick, but He uses everything.
Whatever it is, God works with it.
Have you ever thought about David and Bathsheba? Adultery and murder. Those were David’s sins. But out of Bathsheba’s womb came Solomon, the wisest man on earth, and further down the line—Jesus. Did God condone David’s sins? No. But He worked them into His plan.
What about that beautiful baby born to your wayward daughter or son? Did God have to scramble to come up with a plan for that child, or did He already have one in place?
When we think of everything our children go through having passed by God first, it’s easier to rest.
The final tool I’m going to mention: I remind myself that this too will pass.
No trial lasts forever. It’s going to get better. When? I don’t know, but eventually, this will be just a memory.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. NIV
Our troubles may not seem light or momentary. They seem heavy and endless. But the eternal glory they achieve for us outweighs them by far.
So we don’t fix our eyes on what can be seen—our children’s problems.
We fix our eyes on what is unseen because it’s eternal.
What is unseen?
The purpose of those troubles and trials. And the glory that will result from them. PLEASE, DON’T FIX YOUR EYES ON YOUR CHILDREN’S PAIN. Expect good to come out of it. It will. It may take time, but God is faithful.
As I was writing this article, I got a call from one of my children. He/she (I won’t say which) told me something that made me want to jump into momma mode and fix it. It hurt. But the child said, “Don’t worry, Mom. This is good for me. I know God is going to work it out.”
In all honesty, it took a while before the worry subsided. I could see that Satan was trying to convince me I shouldn’t bother writing this article. These principles didn’t work for me; how could I expect them to work for you?
But they did work.
I started to fight the hurt I was feeling for my child, and I soon had peace. How wonderful to know that my child understood these principles as well.
Sometimes, I actually put my palm out (like Fran—talk to the hand). I say, “Stop! God sees this. He has a purpose for it. It won’t last forever.” Am I talking to the pain? To the devil? To myself? Probably all three. It just helps to say it out loud.
There are a few more things I want to mention:
Don’t forget your other kids. Sometimes, we neglect them because we’re so worried about the problem child.
Build your relationship with your husband. If you put the children before him, it will do great damage to your marriage.
Take care of yourself. You’re no good to anyone else if you don’t take care of you.
And most important. Build your relationship with God. Talk to Him about something besides your problem child. Worship Him. Love Him. Put Him first.
I am so thankful for my four children. All but one are now parents, trying to raise their own children in the ways of the Lord. They’re not perfect, but they turned out pretty darn good!
I see the faithfulness of God when I look at them. Christianity looks different on each of them. They don’t all do things the way I do, or the way I would have chosen for them, but it wasn’t up to me. It was up to God, and He has not failed. They all love Him.
I want to address one more thing.
I know there are some of you reading this post who have lost children. I can’t imagine anything more horrible. I would not presume to say I know what you’re going through. I have no words of wisdom for you other than God loves you. He truly does.
I talked to a dear friend the other day. She lost her son in a drug-induced automobile accident a few weeks after my first husband died. I marveled at her peace of mind. She told me, “I know where he is now. I used to worry about him all the time because I didn’t know if he was eating or where he was staying. But I don’t have to worry anymore.”
The wonderful thing is this too will pass. I know this young man loved God, and his mother is going to see him in heaven.
I hope you can feel my heart in this article. I’m not lecturing you. I’m not judging you. I don’t want you to suffer as I did.
Please, just give it a try. Say it aloud: Stop! God sees this. He has a purpose for it. It won’t last forever.
If you still have the worry and pain, don’t give up. Study the scriptures I’ve quoted. Look up some more. Become convinced that God is in control, and He loves you and your family.
Lord Jesus, I pray for my friends. Help them, Lord. Help them to trust in you. Be merciful, Lord. You are a God of mercy and love. I pray that you would give them peace and strength, and help them to feel your presence in their times of trial. Thank you, Jesus.
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