The lights lowered as the worship team walked onto the stage. The spotlight came up and a young man stepped into the center of it and began to sing into the microphone.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,” Chris’ voice rang out.
The musicians began to play. The instruments, the voice, those beautiful words melded together, filling the sanctuary with the melody of praise. Sweet tears filled my eyes as I sang along. My heart was full as I watched my son on stage, filled with the love and gratitude of a mother who cherishes those special moments in life when all is right with the world. We moms long for those times for each of our children. Those precious moments that seems to validate us as parents.
A memory invaded my mind that Sunday morning in church during that time of worship:
A hospital bed, a nurse holding a blue swaddled bundle, me reaching up from that bed to take my newborn son into my arms. I held him close and kissed the top of his perfectly round, blond head. My husband and two other sons had left the hospital a few hours before.
Suddenly the door creaked. My sixteen-year-old daughter entered, head down,
clutching a small blue package.
“Mom, I brought him a present.”
Cindy began to cry, and then leaned over to also kiss the sweet head of her new brother.
“I am sorry, Mom,” she sobbed.
Those were the first words she had uttered to me in nearly four weeks. Cindy had run away from home six weeks before Chris was born. We were able to locate her but had to call in the authorities to bring her home. For the past month she had literally been on house arrest.
The changes in her life over the past three years had upended her world. There was the divorce, her mom’s emotional recovery from an abusive marriage, and the tumultuous relationship with her father. Then a remarriage two years earlier brought a step-dad and a move to another state. Just as she had begun to settle in, we had to move again due to my new husband’s job. I was juggling parenting her and our two younger boys, ages 12 and 14.
That night in the hospital was a time of healing for both of us. She held her new baby brother and a bond began to form between them that last to this day. The ache that had been in my heart began to ease. After she left, I prayed as I held the baby close.
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life,” (Psalm 119:49).
A prayer of thanksgiving for this reconciliation. Gratitude filled me with new resolve to trust the Lord with all my heart and to surrender each child to His care.
My husband, Mel, and I went to counseling before we blended our family, and at different times when difficult issues came. We knew we needed help. Our love and commitment to each other and the children were strong. But we were in uncharted territory. We attended church, prayed together. We had entered into our new life with high hopes, seeking God’s guidance. The Lord was with us each step of the way…even when the valleys were deep and heartaches overwhelming.
An important fact I learned during that time was that every trial and change, no matter whom it happened to or how serious, affects every member of the family.
Communication was a key element of involving everyone in working through each situation.
Sounds good, right? So when Cindy became depressed and refused to talk, our communication hit a blank wall.
Their individual personalities, their peers, their needs and desires along with day-to-day challenges, all played a part, no matter how hard we tried. We learned that we did not always have all the answers.
Cindy remained with us for nearly a year before she left again. Another year passed before she reunited with us. By this time our fifth child had been born. Eventually we moved to Savannah, GA with the whole family intact. Throughout those years of raising our family, there were more times of joy than difficult ones. We are now blessed with eleven grandchildren and all live close by.
If I were asked for parenting advice it would be: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5
All our children are grown now. They all survived and so did I. They have jobs, homes and families and each has had measures of success in different areas. I can’t take credit for that. When they have problems or fail, I know I am not to blame. There is a lot of love between all of us and for that I am most grateful. This story is just one of many episodes of parental dilemmas we faced.
Does knowing almost all families go through difficult times make a difference? Maybe.
We would love to hear your comments.
When I look back, I remember my mother-in-law’s favorite saying for parents: “You do the best you can with the knowledge you have at the time.”
No, there is not one perfect parent in this world, but there is a perfect God. A God who loves our children more than we ever could. Trust in Him with all your heart.