Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
She was always dressed so stylishly, exuding confidence and assurance in herself. Her family lineage was of the blue-blood variety…and there she stood, in front of us with her hazel brown eyes filling up with tears. Her lower lip quivered and she wistfully twisted the big silver and citrine ring on her index finger. Shiny droplets gathered on her thick black eyelashes as rivers of sadness washed down her face. Kimberly was crumpling.
We were gathered at our women’s leadership group that day sharing prayer requests. “He is leaving home the end of this week,” she painfully explained that her only son was leaving for college that weekend.
“I am so proud of him, but this is crushing me. I am afraid nothing will ever be the same again.” She sobbed. “Please pray for him and…” she stuttered, “please pray for me too. The house will be so empty – what will I do without him?”
Her cries jabbed a sword into my own heart. Though my sons were still in elementary school at the time, I felt the shadow of the future steal into my mind – I knew that one day I would be there too…
Just a few years before, I had been a new mother. It was the week before I was to return to work from maternity leave and my very wise next-door neighbour (and mother of four daughters) had suggested I have a “dry run” of the babysitter before I officially returned to work. It almost destroyed me. I took my son to the sitter’s house and left him there for only three hours. When I returned home, I walked in and fell onto my husband’s chest – wailing away.
“What will I do with my arms now?” I petulantly demanded of him. I felt naked, bereft, lost, without purpose and permanently halved without my baby boy to hold. My husband looked at me like I was nuts (maybe I was, just a little post partum), but the intent of my meaning wasn’t lost. I had changed. I was a mother now and world watch out – you must revolve around him.
When son number two came along, that emotion just intensified and I built my bulwarks to protect them both. These two little people had been given to me and it was solely my job, or so I thought, to foresee and intervene with all things/people unhealthy, unholy and just not right.
It was shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks when God sharply snapped me to attention that I was trying to do His job. My “hands off” attitude did not please Him one bit.
At the time, our family lived in an area that had been directly affected. Indeed the whole country walked on pins and needles for many months afterward, but for the communities who were directly impacted – well, there was an extra level of anxiety…always waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” And it seemed that it did, as within the year our region was also under the fearful specter of Anthrax poisoning by mail and the sniper attacks.
It was the sniper crimes which really shook up my personal community, as the killings were random and varied, with no apparent pattern. A new Christian at the time, I was very fearful of the shootings, and found myself with high anxiety, a racing heart and sleeping in my children’s rooms. I was adamant about pulling window shades down and taking extra precautions around gas stations. It was crazy. I was crazy.
One morning, as I was attending my first Bible study, I shared my concerns but also noted with some bravado that I trusted God with my own life, but not really with my kids. A woman I had never met in the group asked me loudly (and rather forcefully),
Who do you think is a better parent, you or God?
The woman went on to berate me about my lack of faith in the One who had planned and created my children in the first place. Her question shocked me, but that was a turning point in my life and as to this day God continues to remind me about my tight grip on them. It is a constant struggle for me to trust anyone with my children and “tear down” the fences I have put around them – even with Him.
My oldest son is nearing the end of his high school career now and will be making some decisions too soon about his own future. I know that God already has plans for his future and that no matter what I want (can’t he just stay local to go to college)? that God will send both my sons where they are supposed to be. I am learning each day to open my hands to God fully, so that He can guide my boys (without my interference) to greater things than I could ever imagine.
So like Kimberly, I will face that same trauma with my boys that she did…and I will have to answer my own question, What Will I Do With My Arms Now?
Well, I am their mom, and though they may wander away for awhile whilst they figure life out, I know they will return time and again, and maybe one day fill my arms with little ones of their own….and when they are away from me, I will use my arms and hands to love on and pray for whomever God places in my life…and look forward to the days when I can wrap my arms around my grown-up men of God once again.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
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