The Christmas season has me reflecting on Mary. I was thinking about what it must have been like to be the mother of the Son of God. Yes, Jesus was her baby, but she knew that he was here for a deeper purpose than her own enjoyment. She must have known from the start that the greatness of their story would also mean hardship. She would have to keep her open hands with him – ready to give him back to God. It wasn’t about what she wanted. She had to let go of control and trust that God’s purpose was better than any earthly plans she might have this little life.
I think a lot of life is like. Only in the last few years have I learned how very little I control. This control freak has learned that I can control my own actions and reactions, but everything else is out of my hands. I can relate this now to parenting. Let’s talk about trying for a baby. That certainly didn’t happen on my timeline. Not that I had a timeline, but let’s just say it took longer than I expected. It taught me just how much God is really the author of life. Then there is the pregnancy process. A baby grows inside of you – regardless of what you… Your body just does it. I didn’t have to focus on it and will the baby to grow because the process was already set in motion. I had issues with my blood pressure and there was nothing I could about that. There was no willing my body to do something different. It just was the situation. Plain and simple. During the labor process, I realized that Owen was going to come into the world regardless of what I thought things were going to be like. I was out of control. I had to trust my doctor and make what seemed like the wisest decisions, but I didn’t look at Jeremy say “Let’s have our baby now – this time, this day.” Things just happen and you can go with the flow or you can freak out.
Now that Owen is here, I am reminded that I have no control over him as a parent. I can meet his needs and do my best to make sure he is well taken care of. But that doesn’t mean he won’t cry. It doesn’t mean he’ll always be happy. I can’t just tell him what to do and have him do it. He is already his own person. From the very beginning, I have prayed that Owen will come to know the Lord has his Savior and that he will fall madly in love with Jesus. I pray that he will be a good, kind man. I pray that he will live with integrity and love others well. But… I am not in control of him doing this. Yet again, I can do my best to raise him right, but ultimately these decisions are his. I can’t make them for him. God has given Jeremy and I the gift of raising Owen and being his parents, but really he is not mine. He is God’s first and foremost. I am only a trusted caregiver. I can do my best but the rest is up the Lord to touch his heart.
Both books that I’ve been reading recently reference Abraham and God asking him sacrifice Isaac on the alter. I find that when something comes up multiple times, God is trying to speak to me. This story flows perfectly with my pondering on Mary and parenting with open hands. Now I didn’t have to wait 100 years to be a parent, so I can only imagine how tightly Abraham wanted to hold on to Isaac. This was the long awaited, promised child. But Abraham was willing to give him up and trust God. Wow. I can’t fathom what that must have been like. Mark Batterson puts it this way in his book All In, “The truth of the matter is that you can’t really say mine about anything! Nothing belongs to you – not your house, not your car, not your clothes. Every material thing you own is a by-product of the time, talent and treasure God has given you.” While this quote references material items, I would go one step further and say the same is true about parenting. Owen is a treasure for sure. He is a God given gift. It’s up to me to daily give him back to the Lord and say not my will, but yours. I don’t want to be one of those parents who figure Owen’s life out for him. I don’t want to force my will and wishes on him. I want him to grow up to do whatever the Lord places on his heart. I want to inspire and encourage his dreams, not be an obstacle to them. I want him to be himself, the way the Lord uniquely made him. I want his personality to shine.
Just like most things in life, it’s not about me. It’s about Owen and God and this precious season I have to point a way toward the light. I want to reflect God’s love to Owen. I want to parent with open hands. I want to be willing to follow God’s voice no matter where it leads me. I want to trust that God has a better plan for Owen than I do. Just like Mary, I have to be prepared to let God do what he will. Our kiddos are entrusted to us for a short season and than they’ll be adults doing their own thing and living their own lives. My prayer is that is that I will be a mom who loves deeply and holds loosely. He is not mine. He is God’s. He is not here for my purposes, he is here for God’s. What an exciting opportunity and what a joy to be able to watch his life grow and unfold.
As a side note: I am not one of those parents who is going to let their kid do whatever they want because they are their own person and they’ll figure it out. I obviously know that there is a weight of responsibility that comes with parenting. I just wanted to clarify the point that nothing is really ours. The best things happen when you give everything to God and trust him with the outcome. That doesn’t mean you sit back and do nothing. Owen is my flesh and blood and my responsibility. But I can’t do this without God. This job is too important to do it on my own. Jesus needs to my first priority if I want him to Owen’s first priority. I am “All In” when comes to raising this boy the best I can. I know, however, that my best will never be good enough and that this where God comes in and I trust him to use it all for his glory.