I used to have complete control over every aspect of my children’s lives. I homeschooled, so their education was under my purview. They were with me all day long, so their behavior was managed by me. I even did my best to manipulate their relationships with each other and with their father. They mostly had access to only the food I provided them. Since I of course want only the best for my children, this all meant they received an excellent education, navigated their relationships well, and got lots of healthy food and physical exercise.
Then my husband left, and my children’s world drastically changed. I had to find work, which meant they had to go to public school. In my efforts to continue to exercise some control over their education, we moved from the city to the suburbs so they could attend better schools. They went months without even seeing or talking to their father, before regular visitation was finally implemented. We had very little money, and I spent years trying to figure out how to cover just the basic necessities of food and shelter, meaning the sports teams and music lessons they were accustomed to were no more. Everything about my children’s lives was suddenly different.
As you can imagine, I carried a lot of guilt about the lifestyle my children were now living. I wished I had made different choices, somehow made my marriage work, or somehow figured out a way to keep the lifestyle my children and I had enjoyed. However, looking back now on the previous 3 1/2 years, I have to say the upheaval was a gift for my children–a gift I would not have chosen for them, even had I had a choice.
As someone in recovery, who is just now learning to be ok with not getting what I want, I wonder why I fight so hard to NOT give him this lesson. I certainly don’t want him to be like me when he doesn’t get what he wants. Perhaps he was given a greater gift today, to learn how to deal with the disappointments of life – I don’t know. ~The Birthday Gift.
In my children’s case, it was all a gift. Divorce was a gift. Giving up the homeschool lifestyle was a gift. Getting suspended in school. Nearly failing 7th grade. Not getting a birthday party. Moving out of state. Having to change preschools mid-year. I see my children learning for themselves what foods and activity levels make their bodies feel good, and which ones make them feel sick and tired. I hear them admit that they don’t like themselves much when they are selfish and unkind to their brothers, when I am not present to set boundaries for them. I am watching my children learn to turn to Father when they are frightened, as I am not always able to be with them to comfort them. Yet I have to admit, even knowing now how these past few years have been molding my children into strong, empathetic, successful lovers of Christ, I still would probably not have had the strength, given a choice, to choose this gift of hardship and pain for them.
From Echoes of Eternity, Page 101, May Fourteenth:
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. ~Isaiah 40:11
This is the life I have given you. Embrace it and be grateful for it. I am the Good Shepherd who leads My sheep in the right places for them. Here, My design is to keep you in a safe place. Here those qualities I desire to see can come forth and grow if you will embrace this life. . . .
How awesome is Father’s love for my children, that he would sacrifice so, refusing to block the hardship in their lives but instead using it to form them into such amazing young men. Thank you, Father.