As parents we have the responsibility to love, nurture, provide and train our children to become responsible, moral, hardworking, contributing, authentic adults. Most of us try to do this, with varying degrees of competency and success.
But I’ve found that God also has an equally important role for our children in our lives: to help us learn to walk in the Spirit, build our character, and develop skills we need for life and ministry. Here are two truths I have learned from my girls.
DEBBIE: You are not in control
Before Debbie was born, I was editor of Worldwide Challenge magazine. I loved that we had a specific schedule for each month, week, day. The magazine was so compliant. Every month it came out on time, and it was beautiful.
I stepped away from that responsibility shortly before Debbie was born. I knew I would need to learn to be a little more flexible about my schedule, but I was sure I could get her on a good routine.
Surprise! Debbie had colic. Not the evening kind. The always kind. Her tummy hurt. She cried. And cried. She didn’t sleep except a few hours each night—maybe five to six hours. But that was it. No naps.
My day went like this: Up by 5 or 6 a.m. with a screaming baby. An hour of nursing (no crying then). A few minutes of peace: quickly put some clothes on. Then carry her, entertain her, sing to her, anything to get her not to cry until the two-hour mark when I could feed her again. Repeat. Until midnight. For four months.
I cried almost as much as Debbie. I was sure I would never be rested, dressed, and presentable again. I would never be in control of my life again. "Lord," I said desperately, "this is not working. I am not the right mother for this child."
His reply was gentle: Oh Judy, you are exactly right for Debbie—the one I created to love and comfort her in her great discomfort. But she is also just right for you. I created her to help you learn some important lessons: You are not in control. Things will not happen according to your schedule. You need to learn to let go, to flex, to relax.
“But I don’t like not being in control.”
Then: Judy, I am in control. I know much better than you the what, when, and how for your life—and for Debbie’s. Rest in Me. You won’t be disappointed. My plan and schedule and timing are perfect.
MICHELLE: Enjoy the journey
From the day she was born, Michelle has not been in a hurry. She slept much of her first year. She cuddled, laughed, listened a lot, talked enough.
She played quietly, explored, created, painted, invented, rescued. But she never rushed.
I’m more of a destination person. She’s more of a journey person. I like to get there. She likes the getting there. So often she heard:
“Hurry up, we’re late.”
“We’ll be late to church, Michelle.”
“Carpool is waiting, Michelle.”
“Time for soccer practice, Michelle.”
Nothing hurried her. But I know I frustrated her, discouraged her, hurt her.
Over time, I began to hear the Lord whispering, What’s your hurry, Judy? He reminded me of those famous sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha was focused on getting dinner ready. She rushed around, fretting that Mary wasn’t helping her. And Mary? She was enjoying Jesus. Listening, learning, reflecting.
Slowly Michelle’s ability to live in the present, her not hurrying to the future, began to rub off on me. I still like to get things done, but I have learned to let things go, stop for people in my life, leave tasks for another day. I don’t get as much done. But I enjoy the journey so much more.
“I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly”
© Judy Douglass. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Judy Douglass has been a staff member with Cru (the name for Campus Crusade for Christ in the U.S.) since 1964. She currently assists her husband, Steve, in giving leadership to Cru. She gives special attention to helping and encouraging staff women in their lives and ministry.
Judy is the founding editor of Cru's magazine, Worldwide Challenge, and the author of three books, Single and Complete, He Loves Me and What Can a Mother Do? She and Steve have three married children and several grandchildren.
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