Delivered to us in large and small packages, swaddled in blankets of life, love, and promise, children are gifts given to us for a lifetime of unwrapping. Sometimes the process comes with happy surprises like first smiles and first dates. But the longer we unwrap our priceless gifts, the harder it becomes to deal with the surprises.
Well beyond the early years, we continue to experience crying, sleepless nights, and unimaginable exhaustion.
Trials placed on our doorsteps can feel a bit like grief: appearing unexpectedly, there is loss, pain, and suffering before there is acceptance and an ability to move forward.
The loss comes after we have poured enormous amounts of love and effort into their lives, in hope of seeing certain behaviors prevail. Sadly, our children make choices about life and faith that are different from ours, leaving us disappointed and discouraged.
Sharing from my personal experience, these are 3 things I didn’t expect when I was expecting:
I didn’t know how quickly my high expectations could be crushed in the early days of a child’s rebellion. A light dawns when their heart reveals it wants to go its own way, do its own thing, live by its own rules. New attitudes slap you awake from dreaming and drag you into a nightmare.
The rugged path of rebellion is fraught with danger; each step is tripped by the exposed roots of raging hormones and a teenager’s sense of self.
Rebellion rushes in quickly and spreads like wildfire. Efforts to extinguish it are challenging, ineffective, and ridiculed. Standing firm with grace and love are the most effective weapons when the beast of rebellion is unleashed.
A child’s rejection of right and acceptance of wrong slithers in slowly; it silently destroys any previously held identification with family values and beliefs.
Before I realized what was happening, I was pierced with daggers declaring, “ I hate you!” and, “ I don’t believe in God!”
Hearing words like this can drag you under waters of despair. If we hold onto them, we sink to the bottom, and our burning lungs fill up with questions that drown us: Why would anyone say this? When did they decide that? When did I fail? How did I not seen this coming? When will I surface for air?
As our children turn away from us and our beliefs, it is of utmost importance to firmly plant our feet facing God; trusting in Him during this time of unexpected rejection is the most powerful act of obedience we can model for them.
To be the object of painful rejection is the catalyst which thrusts us into the accepting, outstretched arms of God.
The depth of pain we feel, during the turbulent days of rejection, is buoyed by the depth of love offered by the One who suffered the greatest rejection.
Tagging along with rebellion and rejection, like an annoying, younger sibling, resentment grabs ahold of my heart and won’t let go. I was surprised by my reaction of resentment.
Fortified by a stone wall mortared with bitterness, my heart hardened toward my children while I tried to manage the tasks of daily living. Attempts to shield myself from future harm, through bitterness and resentment, proved to be a false sense of protection to which I clung for many years.
Resentment blooms from the seeds of rebellion and rejection. The more it grows, the slower the healing. Resentment should be avoided at any cost.
These 3 unexpected troubles have been like a drive along a mountain highway with its dangerous twists and turns, often making me plead with God to let me pull over and stop. But as we ride along on a trip we did not choose, we find Hope in the One who paves the way to make it smooth; makes a path in our wilderness; shines a light in our darkness.
For now, we stay on course and wait. We release control to God Who knows where we are going, how long it will take to arrive at our destination, and what the whole journey includes, even the unexpected things. And we will wait in hope because scripture assures us of the blessings that will come from the things we never expected while we were expecting:
“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience, in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” (Rom. 5:5, ESV)
Waiting with you!