Parenting when life is out of control…
There are some times we think we have it all under control as parents. There are other times we know our handle on life and our ability to protect our children is simply an act of faith. Today was one of those days.
Several months ago I was putting my daughter Madelyn in bed. As I placed my hand on her cheeks to pray with her God allowed me to feel a small tumor just in front of her right ear. I bless God for allowing me to feel that. What came next was doctors, test, biopsies, and eventually… today…. surgery.
We arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital at 6:30 A.M. and quickly prepped Maddie for surgery. By 8:15 A.M. her entire surgical team arrived, met with us, and whisked Madelyn away to a 3.5 hour surgery to remove her parotid gland containing a sizable tumor. Angela and I watched as people we barely knew but had to trust, took our little girl away to operate. Incredibly we (Angela, Madelyn, and me) had Shalom. A sense of peace that can only come from God. As we walked away I wondered what contributed to our emotional and spiritual peace in the “out of control” moment. Here is my 2 cents:
- Dependance on God | Our family has learned to depend on God when life is out of control. As parents we are teaching our children to exercise faith in the midst of really scary life. This is not perfect and honestly is messy. We still experience fear, anger, sadness, and anxiety but we depend on God. This brings us peace. Our family has been through some “stuff” over the years. We have together experienced life and death, healing and hurt. At both extremes we find that God is there and He is utterly dependable. We believe God is right there with us, especially when life is out of control. As parents we just point Him out to our kids. God is our refuge, He is the shade at our right hand, He is the Good Shepherd, He is our Strength, He is the Prince of Peace. This may seem extremely simple or overly religious to you but His faithfulness is our story. Tonight I am sitting in my daughter’s hospital room on the 11th floor of Texas Children’s Hospital. From the window I can see M.D. Anderson where my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor 2 summers ago that took her life. From where I sit I see life and death as extreme ends of “out of control situations.” This is my testimony. God is dependable at each end of the spectrum.
- Honesty | Parenting when life is out of control requires honesty with our children. To prepare Madelyn for surgery we walked her through the possibilities. We talked to her about what she would feel like afterward. We assured her that we would be close by. Mostly we taught her in times like these we rest in the God who made us and who can heal us either miraculously himself or miraculously using the surgeon as a tool in His hand. We applied this same honesty as my mom was dying with a brain tumor. We talked to the kids about what was happening to Nanna and how we should love her and talk to her as she was deteriorating. Age-appropriate honesty has been an important aspect of parenting our children when life is out of control.
- Prayer | Praying for our children and with our children is an important aspect of parenting every day, but especially when life is out of control. Prayer is powerful and places us in the arms of the Father. Praying with our children in scary situations is a comfort. Praying for them is a ministry. Three nights ago Madelyn asked me to stop praying for the Lord to take away her tumor “by His own hand.” Puzzled I asked, “Why?” She said she would rather God heal her by the surgeons hand because she was really excited about spending the night in the hospital. A funny “eight year old” way of thinking but I realized she trusted God to heal her and I was great with that!
- Community | We need family and friends when life is crazy. When they took Madelyn back to surgery, Angie and I had each other. That is a strong feeling. Several of our friends and family members showed up today to sit with us, pray with Maddie, and just offer support. Just a few minutes ago Madelyn said, “It was really nice for our friends to come pray with me so early in the morning.” I realized how much we need others to hold us up as parents, when life for our children is out of control. I am grateful for my family and my brothers and sisters in Christ today who reached out. Community is huge when life is out of control.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth. -Job 19:25
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. -Psalm 121:4
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1