The middle child, the oldest boy, starts kindergarten in just a few weeks. Not only that, but he will ride the bus (which is, possibly, a bigger deal for both of us even than kindergarten itself).
I’ve been a mother long enough to know that the days are long but the years are short. These summer days drag (how to fill the time between dinner and bed?), but I will wake up tomorrow and watch my son graduate from high school. I know this, and it has prompted me to wonder: what do I want this boy to grow up to do? To know? To be?
Like most parents in these enlightened days, I say, “I only want him to be happy. Whatever makes him happy. If that means becoming a doctor, great. If it’s an auto mechanic, fine by me.” Unlike most parents, I suspect, I really do mean it.
I’ve spent enough time around highly-educated Ivy-leaguers to know that the things which spell success in our culture (straight A’s! a University of Chicago degree!) are not necessarily markers of either success or happiness.
Not only that, but I know that there is some kind of Murphy’s law of parenting: whatever I plan for my child, the opposite will happen. My father gave me only this bit of advice as I prepared for college: “Study anything you want, but be practical. Don’t major in English or History.” I was never a rebellious child, but Murphy’s law kicked in and, by the end of college, I was graduating with a double major in English and History.
What then do I want for my boy? For his big sister? His little brother?
Only this: to know deep down in their heart of hearts that God loves them. Truly, that is all.
Unfortunately, there is such a big chasm between head knowledge and heart knowledge, between assenting to an idea or concept and feeling the truth of it deep inside. I tell them over and over: you are loved. By me. By others. But, most importantly, you are loved by the Love who created everything beautiful and that Love is vaster and more intimate than you may ever know.
I heard that too as a child. I sang these words in so many Sunday school classes: “Jesus loves me, this I know.” But I didn’t know. I nodded my head and agreed, but I didn’t really know.
Praying that my children know God’s love is sometimes difficult. It is as if I am praying that they suffer. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there is some other way in which this knowledge can travel from head to heart, but the enormity of God’s personal love was only revealed to me in some very dark places.
Looked at another way, I am not praying that they suffer. I am praying that they be comforted.
And this is what I want for my babies? Yes, this is what I want for them: that, like Hagar, they will one day say, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
This is my prayer:
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
I’m afraid that it will hurt, but I promise you: it is worth every tear.
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42: 5)
This is wonderful. Beautiful! I completely agree. I am surprised sometimes to read your posts about what you didn’t know in high school and while growing up. You always seemed to have it all together and in the right places to me!
I am thankful for these glimpses into your heart!
Thank you, Jamee! I think I had a lot of answers as a teenager which gave me (and others, I suppose) the illusion that I had it all figured out. But what I’ve discovered is that checklists of answers only take you so far in life, especially when circumstances don’t go according to plan. Knowing divine Love as a concept is like knowing food as a concept. It only really nourishes us if we taste and eat. Which I’m so glad you know, dear friend!
So ‘right on’!
If all those little 5 and 6 year olds out there could only learn and experience God’s love like your son is and will experience, then there would be no need for the labor that mom and I engage in on these campuses! We see a lot of insecurity and evidence of futility and obvious feelings of worthlessness prevalent among many of today’s 18 to 22 yr olds….. it’s often hidden by a frantically maintained covering of ambition, material success and relational scaffolding hastily constructed around their daily life.
Yesssss. (that’s me agreeing with a tear in my eye and a big sigh:)
Have you read Sally Clarkson’s ‘The Mission of Motherhood’? I’m really enjoying it right now and today I read this –
“As my children see me in the deep waters of life, being tested to my core and still holding on to my Lord and choosing to believe the best, this observation will prepare them for their own trials, which will surely come. They will know that he will guide and forgive them as they lead an imperfect but devoted life before a loving Father who has always met their mother’s needs!”
oh also I love that picture more and more every time I see it -definitely a “thousand words” image.
Me too. Thanks for taking it!
This is a wonderful post! And it completely echoes my prayer for my two daughters since they were born. I admit to being tempted to pray for them to be humble, to be obedient, to grow up and have a loving husband that leads them on a godly path…but most often the Lord whispers in my ear that all I really want for them is to know HIM! To love HIM! Because if they know and love our Lord, every single other thing will be taken care of no matter what. The Lord also reminds me of the hard circumstances that he used to draw me to him, and oh, how I don’t want my girls to go through the hard stuff. But it is worth it, when you receive the pearl of great value! So I also pray that I will have the strength to let them go through the valley and point them to the Lord! Thanks for the post and the encouragement.
You are welcome, Kristine. To know Him, to love Him, that is “the pearl of great value.” Yes! Beautifully put.
Definitely, truth I’m learning and prayer from Scripture that is becoming deeply rooted in my heart for my children…that they might know Him in the depths of their soul.
Thanks for this post!
You’re welcome, Lisa!