March 6 – 72 degrees. Fantastic. I arrived home after work to see half a dozen kids playing outside. Some were in spring jackets. one was in a full winter coat with the hood up, and one was in a sleeveless t-shirt. The weather in Nebraska is hard to predict, which makes it difficult for even very good parents to always make the best choices. “It’s warm and sunny, should I put just a windbreaker on him?” “The wind is pretty stiff, should she wear her heavy coat?” “It feels great out, he doesn’t want a coat, should I just let him go without?”
It’s hard in general to make good decisions as a parent. I have talked to other people who suffer the same feelings that sometimes come to me at night when I’m alone – parental guilt and second-guessing, replaying long-gone events and beating myself up over my failures. Often, in retrospect, what seemed like a good idea turned out to be either too strict, too lenient, too smothering or too distant. I know that I tried very hard with my kids, but now looking back I see so many mistakes, errors of judgement or just plain screw-ups.
(Why is it, anyway, that when we lie awake at night, the wonderful events of our lives and the beautiful moments we expect in the future don’t come to mind and dog us relentlessly? Why can’t I have a night where I can’t stop dwelling on the surprise party my son threw me all on his own – including paying for it – when he was just a kid? Why can’t I endlessly loop on the lovely bride I hope my daughter will be one day? Why is it guilt or worry? That kind of stinks.)
It was an awesome and terrifying responsibility, having an entire person’s life in my hands to mold and shape. All my flaws and shortcomings obviously affected that process. I’m not saying I did everything wrong, just that it’s not possible to do everything right.
Right now my husband Sam is at a kind of turning point in his career. He is poised for some great things that could happen, but just… well, poised there. Like a runner at the line, or a swimmer crouched on the edge of the pool. He’s ready, so ready for the next move, but he hasn’t been told “GO” yet. I was talking with my mom today about some of the possibilities, and I said, “It’s in God’s hands. We both know that He is in charge and we will end up going where He wants and doing what He wants.” My mom replied, “Doesn’t it feel great to be able to say that? I don’t know what people do, who can’t rest in knowing that God is handling everything.”
When I got home and saw the kids in their smorgasbord of outerwear, I started thinking about how hard it is to make choices as a parent. Even when you have the information, like the weather outside. Two parents in the same building, saw the same weather – and one chose a parka and one no sleeves at all. Then I started thinking about our Father, and how He never makes the wrong choice. The weather never surprises Him. No storm blows up in my life that takes Him unawares. No dry spell, no cold snap, no season of warmth and fruitfulness is outside of His knowledge and understanding – and His plan.
I may not understand every choice He makes, but that’s ok. I don’t have to. And I don’t get to. I can fly in an airplane without demanding that the pilot explain every move he makes flying the plane, and second-guessing him all the way. I just trust that he knows what he’s doing, sit back and relax. How much more should I, can I, must I, trust that God has everything under control? That He never makes a wrong choice? That there are NO mistakes in His plan?
Doesn’t it feel great to be able to say that?
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28