A word, a sentence, a look is all it takes to arouse a fear lying dormant in the heart.
“Mom, I can’t bend at my knees. I think my leg is swelling up again.”
Fears in my heart rubbed the sleep from their eyes.
“I’m sure your knee isn’t swelling. You are probably a little sensitive to the possibility of it happening again.” I was convincing myself as much as my 9-year-old.
The following day he made mention of pain in his leg. We noticed a limp in his walk. Fears in my heart began to stretch their arms, preparing to come fully awake.
Easing himself into a chair, he placed his left leg out so I could raise the leg of his pants. The chattering of fear could be heard in the background. I talked back, telling fear that it was a different leg than last year. I talked back telling fear that this was a coincidence. I talked back telling fear to go back to sleep. He’s not welcome here.
Inching the leg of his pants up, I swallowed a gasp as my eyes took in the sight of his knee. Begging my eyes not to give away the fear now fully awake, I looked at Zachary. “I think it’s fine. It looks like it is a little swollen, but I’m sure it’s fine. We will keep watching it and pray it doesn’t swell like last time.”
One year ago we had a scare and a painful couple of weeks when his right leg became swollen, fluids drained, tests run, and finally no conclusions, but swelling gone. For a year the fear of a reoccurrence has slept in our hearts.
Now we are reliving the experience. This time in the left leg.
In my own heart, fear feeds on the unknowns and the what-if’s. In Zachary’s heart, fear feeds on the pain, the oversized needle, and the inability to do all the things he loves- running, jumping, and playing outside.
The mama heart in me wants to make everything right for my child. To take away every twinge of discomfort, every ounce of pain.
We pray, friends pray, family prays, teachers pray. I listen to his prayers. I hear the courage that wants to dominate, but I hear the fear that fights for its place. We ask God to take away the swelling. We ask God to bring back the normal function of his knee, his whole leg. We ask God to take away the pain.
As we lay our requests at the feet of Christ, my heart silently pleads with God. Please, God, grant us this. I want Zachary to see how you answer our prayers. I want him to see how you work on our behalf. I want Zachary to experience you.
And I hear His whispers back to me. I strain hard to hear. I freeze, making no movement to be sure I hear Him. I always answer prayers. I work all things for good for those called according to my purpose. My ways are not your ways. Trust me.
I argue with God in the privacy of my soul. No, God, really. I don’t want my child to hurt. I want to take away all his pains. I don’t want to watch him struggle. And more than anything I want him to grow in his faith. I want him to know you fully and trust you with everything he has.
Patiently, God listens to my moanings. He is my child. I love him even more than you do. I want the same things for him.
I see my shallow faith. I see my temptation to believe the lie that my child must get his way to believe God. That my child must have his prayer answered immediately the way I believe is best to believe in the God he’s placed his trust in. I feel the guilt in my heart growing.
It’s a struggle I face daily. Trying to be the Holy Spirit within my children. I’ve written about this struggle. Thinking I know what is best for them. Wanting to guide them towards safety. Wanting to grow them into who I want them to be.
I want to take away the fears of my children. I want to take away pain. I want them to experience joy. I want them to trust God with all their heart.
But at times I want that so badly, that I try to get in the middle and do it my own way. I think I know best. I think that for my kids to fully trust God, that God must answer every prayer according to how I best see fit. I think for them to trust God, they must get the answers they want from Him.
God always brings me back to Him. To a place of seeing our most desperate need is not to get our own way, but to live out our lives His way.
Softly, He brings to mind many of the prayers He has answered in my own life. Many that He answered in ways I never would have anticipated. Many in ways I never asked. Some no’s, some yes’s, some maybe’s, some yes – but it looks different that you are picturing.
Zachary hobbled to the farmhouse table and eased himself onto the bench by the fire. The place where hearts are shared regularly. The place where stories are told and created. The place where the fire warms us, the food feeds us, and His Word nourishes us.
“Mom, I think I know one of the reasons God allows this to happen to my leg.”
I looked up to meet his eyes that spoke a tenderness commanding my attention.
“I think God allows this pain so I can help others. Now that I know what this is like, I can help others when they hurt.”
The gasp I swallowed out of fear earlier came to the surface. This time it didn’t come from the place of fear.
“Zachary, if I could take away your pain I would. If I could take it on myself, I would do it. But I can’t. God did that for us didn’t He? To save us, Jesus took on pain, shame, and death so that one day we could be with Him in glory.”
He reminds me again. His ways are not my ways. Sometimes He uses our pains and our struggles to create the person in us He wants us to be. Sometimes He uses our circumstances to grow the character needed to sustain what He sees ahead of us. Sometimes pain free isn’t the best place for us. Sometimes it’s there we are most aware of Him.
As a mom, I want to make life well for my kids. I want to take away what hurts them. Kiss the boo-boo away. Tuck them in tightly crowding out their fears. Sometimes, I want it so much I’m tempted to take away the place God wants us to be in that moment.
He sent His son to die on a cross for my sins. He knows the pain of a parent watching their child struggle. He knows that pain more than I can begin to fathom.
Yes, I can trust Him with my own child. After all, my child is His child, on loan to me for a time. My role isn’t to make life smooth and comfortable, removing the rocks along the path. My role is to encourage my child to keep his eyes focused on the One who leads him along the path laid out before him.
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