Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Mother's Faith

(by Carolyn Mahaney)

Many years ago, CJ and I had breakfast with a prominent Christian leader. At one point the man turned his attention to me and said, "So tell me about your daughters...how old are they, did you say?"

"Six, ten, and eleven," I replied.

"Ah," he said, leaning back in his chair with a smile. "Those are delightful ages. They still think Mommy and Daddy are the most wonderful people in the world. But all that changes when the teenage years come."

My breakfast--not to mention my day--was spoiled. That sense of dread at the approach of my daughters' teenage years, always nipping at the edges of my imagination, played out once again in panoramic view: the little hints of trouble, the minor instances of disobedience--where would it all lead?

Nicole has been disrespectful lately. Is this the first sign of full-fledged rebellion? Sometimes Kristin is so quiet. Will she become more withdrawn. Janelle's mischievous streak could mean real trouble in a few years. Things will probably get worse and worse, and soon my daughters won't even like me anymore. What can I do to stop this from happening?

"What are your daughters' names?" The benign question jolted me back to reality. I managed to stammer a response, and the conversation moved on. But the gnawing feeling in my stomach remained.

Whether your child is six or sixteen, the temptation to fear for their future is great. That's why we're going to talk about A Mother's Faith here on girltalk this week. So, have a seat at our kitchen table and let's chat.

What I Wish I’d Done

Many years after this fear-prompting meal, I was faced with another question. This time, CJ and I, along with Nicole and Janelle (Kristin was living in Chicago at the time) were being interviewed at a parents’ meeting at our church. The moderator asked CJ and me, “If you could parent your daughters all over again, what would you do differently?”

It was not a tough question. While I am aware of numerous ways I would want to be a better mom, one thing stands out far ahead of the rest.

I wish I had trusted God more.

For every fearful peek into the future, I wish I had looked to Christ instead. For each imaginary trouble conjured up, I wish I had recalled the specific, unfailing faithfulness of God. In place of dismay and dread, I wish I had exhibited hope and joy. I wish I had approached mothering like the preacher Charles Spurgeon approached his job: “forecasting victory, not foreboding defeat.”

What mothering failures have you predicted lately? What fears about your children lurk around the edges of your mind—or even dominate your thoughts? Do you assume things will only get worse? Are you anxious about the future and tempted to despair?

As women, we’re all vulnerable to fear, worry, and anxiety. And few areas tempt us more than mothering. But faith must dictate our mothering, not fear. Faith, as it says in Hebrews is the ‘assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’” (Heb 11.1).

Faith toward God is the foundation of effective mothering.

More tomorrow... [at http://www.girltalk.blogs.com/]

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