Saturday, July 20, 2013

Does Your Love For Your Children Interfere With Your Love For Your God?

I was 13 the year that I nearly burnt the house down.  My parents had left me home alone for the first time, and in an age before cell phones, I had no way to reach them.  The 5 fire companies that had responded to my call for help had all left before my parents returned that evening.  The street, which had been closed due to my "emergency", had been reopened.  The front yards and driveways of 3 consecutive homes no longer showed any trace of the fire trucks, ambulance, or police officers that had been present, save the tire tracks that remained through the yards that had been used as parking lots only hours before.  I had clung to a neighbor and cried, with horror, as I realized that I had left my dinner on the stovetop, on high, for 3 hours while I had been outside talking to a friend on the phone.  That's why my home had filled with a terrible dense black smoke.   The firemen had opened all the windows and doors and used their industrial fans to suck most of the smoke out of the house.  Then everybody went home and I curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket and shivering with all the windows and doors still open on that cool, crisp night.  And that's how my parents found me when they returned around 11:00pm.

The next day, my mom wept as she watched a hen frantically clucking at her babies who had wandered outside of a fence that she was too large to pass through.  Those tiny peeps where just beyond her reach.  She could see the danger that her little babies were in but she could do nothing to protect them.  This mama hen's panicked squawking broke my own mama's heart as she realized that, in reality, she was no more capable of keeping me safe while allowing me to grow up and experience moments of freedom.  She had to begin letting go of a child who was gaining and craving independence, but there was danger in that, and it terrified her.  "Mommmmm!" I whined, as the tears fell from her cheeks.  Usually rational and collected, my mother did not often succumb to emotion and I hated seeing those tears.  I didn't understand her fear or her internal struggle.  And then I became a mother....

12 years later, at 25, I welcomed my first child into the world.  A beautiful baby girl, perfect and healthy in every way.  But amidst the baby showers and birthing classes that went into preparing for that precious first child, there was something that no one ever told me about motherhood.  No one ever told me that from the moment that child left the safety of my womb, I would live in a perpetual state of fear.   The fear of having this child taken from my arms was overwhelming at first, despite her perfect health.  The fear of her spitting up and choking while I slept peacefully beside her made me unable to sleep at night.  I feared tripping and dropping her down the stairs.  I feared car accidents in a way I never had before.  I felt like a mama hen who's baby was sometimes just out of reach.  No matter how well I cared for and protected her, I was (and still am) incapable of complete and flawless protection over my child.  I would clutch her and beg God not to take this beautiful gift away from me.  My heart broke at just the thought.  On the day my daughter was born I learned that the greatest of all loves will produce the greatest of all fear.

There's a place where the God-created beauty of maternal love and instinct collides with the fallen-ness of a world that was originally designed for perfection. In my life, this collision reflects itself as fear and this reality has made me even more keenly aware of the sinfulness of the human heart.  We live in a world so desperately tainted with sin that something as beautiful as a mother's love for her child can be wrought with a fear so intense as to damage a woman's faith in her God. His perfect gift of motherhood can be the very thing that begins to divide the recipient and the Giver.  How can we be in harmony with a God we can't trust.  And how can we trust our God when we're clinging to our babies in utter terror of losing them.

I have been a mother for 5 years now and in that time I have welcomed 2 more precious babies to my brood of little ones.  These 5 years have been a journey; a balancing act of executing my God-given responsibility to protect my little ones in every way possible while still ultimately trusting their lives to Him.  It has been a continual process of opening my hands to Him and saying "Here Lord, they are yours and I will make the choice to trust you."  When I peek in their bedrooms after they are asleep at night and I see their sweet sleeping faces illuminated by a soft light; the rays falling across their delicate and impossibly beautiful cheeks, I still beg God to not ever take them from me.  Just the thought of such a pain can still bring me to tears - and I suppose, always will.  It wouldn't be a mother's love without that element.  But, day by day, I'm learning to let go, one heartstring at a time. It's a pain I pray I will never have to know. But beyond that, God is teaching me to pray that if the day were to come that he allows that trial to come into my life, my faith in Him would be so complete that my broken heart could simply rest in the trust that I have in His wisdom.  It's knowing and BELIEVING that "...in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28.  It's knowing that The Artist sees the complete picture, while I see only a tiny brush stroke.  It's being willing to suffer to allow God's glory to be shown, because it is God's glory that allowed me to experience the gift of motherhood in the first place.  It's finding that beautiful, and completely terrifying place of total submission to the God I serve.

My mother wept as she watched a mama hen clucking at her stray babies that day.  Realizing that she was no more capable of keeping her own children safe, she felt the weight of an impossible task upon her shoulders.  It was a burden she was never meant to bear.  "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?"  Matthew 6:26. Open your hands and your hearts to the Lord, sweet mother.  Allow yourself to live at peace with this world by trusting in the God who orchestrates it.  The responsibility is yours but the burden was never meant to be.  The "letting go" will be a process, but determine to make that journey, one delicate heartstring at a time.