A very wise woman handed me a worn little gift-wrapped matchbox.
I was a brand new Mom. Carli was only a few months old. I knew that little box. I have seen it taped to her wall by her bed for most of my high school and college years.
“I’m so scared I’m going to mess this up, Mamma. She is so precious. There are so many things that can go wrong. I love her so much! What if she chokes in her crib and I don’t hear her? What if I go to pick her up and she doesn’t breathe? What if I don’t teach her both languages and she falls behind in school because she has two cultures? What if she makes the wrong friends? What if someone takes her and I can’t find her? What if she doesn’t choose Jesus? What if? What if?”
She looked in my eyes with the experience that comes from years of letting go and walking by faith. Eyes that have seen her own kids struggle and search. Eyes that looked down at the casket carrying her only son. Eyes that watched airplanes grow smaller knowing it would not return for several years at a time so I can live in the land of the free. Eyes that have seen suffering, disappointment, and heartache. But hers were also eyes that studied and read His Word like the Life that it is. She put her hand over mine and said, “I want you to have this.” Pointing to the worn little box. “God has given you this precious little life as a gift. She is not yours to keep, Stellie. She will always be His little girl first. You get to love her and guide her and most of all cover her in prayer. But you have to give her back to Him every single day so that you always keep Him before your eyes and not your ability as a mom. That is what this little box represents. It symbolizes me giving each one of you back to the Lord and trusting Him with you.”
I searched for this little box this week because I found myself in another round of learning to let go – such is the journey of motherhood.
As time passed I’ve shifted from placing them before His throne every day to gradually putting on a yoke of control and the fear of messing up, of not getting it right. I was questioning my wisdom and feeling the weight of each and every decision. Will they be ready? Will they be safe? Will they serve Jesus in a culture that often defies everything they have been taught? Will we get through all the changes in tact or blown to pieces? Will they thrive in their original design by their Heavenly Father or will they adapt and change to what others’ expect them to?
Simply put I traded the peace that surpasses all understanding and started partnering and parenting with fear. I was hitching my wagon once again to a good ole’ dose of pride.
Thinking that if I only add the right ingredients of superb reading and obedience and following every rule and the best 5-steps to perfect white picket fenced kids, it would keep it all together and make everything work out okay. And as the what-ifs stacked up in an unbearable weight in my heart, I was reminded. The prayers of a Mother, not a perfect mother, but a Jesus loving mother, who followed Him even when it was hard and it didn’t make sense, span across time and space and His Spirit of truth reminded me of what she taught me.
“Beautiful, precious child, you are His daughter first. Brave and adventure driven man-child, you are His son first.
Into the little gift-wrapped box you go.
At His feet I place you AGAIN today, at the dawn of every unknown to me, yet completely unhidden from Him.
Knowing that He loves you with an everlasting perfect love.
He will be there in the best of your days and the hardest. He will be there if you feel like giving up and in the ones you mess up. My prayer is that you will hear His voice whispering, “This is the way, follow Me.” I pray that you will hear it echo in the chambers that so easily get cluttered with noise, His promise, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” In a world constantly changing, “I am the same today. Tomorrow. Forever.” And that when the world spins lies at you and spits you out bruised and battered, “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.”Is 42:3
And as long as He breathes life in my lungs, I will be here cheering you on, guiding you as best I can, but most of all I will be right here; praying for you.