At the prompting of a dear friend, I'm going to write about a lesson I've recently learned. It seems I've had my thinking a bit backwards...
You see, I have a child who has rocked my world. Unlike some children with different needs, you might not know at first glance which kiddo has rocked my world. In fact, unlike many more children, depending on the day, you might not even know which child after spending an afternoon with us. But believe me, I know.
I know because I often plan my life around this child. Of course, if you've never had such a child, that will sound crazy to you. If you have been blessed with such a child, you know exactly what I mean. From canceling plans at the last minute to letting go of a job, I've done a lot to ensure that I can give me children what they need.
Not long ago, a friend sent me an email that I'll never forget. In it, she reminded me that I'm exactly the mama God had in mind for my three children. As I read her words, I was humbled. She challenged me to view as an honor what I'd once seen as a burden. That was the first shift in my attitude change.
The second change has come over the recent months. If I'm honest, I could tell you that if my difficult child had a different personality, this parenting thing would almost be a breeze. Though I've truly never wished for life without this child, I have often desired that my child had a more flexible and easygoing personality. That dream is typically followed with thinking of all I could do if that child was just, well...easier. Life would likely be simpler and dare I say more enjoyable. And yet, I've come to realize that my life wouldn't be better. In fact, it would be worse. This child has made me who I am. This child has made me more fully understand grace. This child has made me know what it's like to empty myself until I feel there is nothing more to give. This child has made me realize that there is always something more to give. There's always something more to give because of grace.
If it weren't for grace, I don't think most of us would still be taking care of our children. Surely a parent's love is a decent example of grace. These children come to us unable to do anything for us. If anything, they do nothing but disrupt our lives and ignore our needs and yet we love them. We love them so deeply that we would die for them without a second thought. Remind you of anything?
I believe parenting in general teaches us much of God's love. Parenting my challenging child has taught me even more. It didn't take much to help me to understand that my child needs me. Of course a child needs someone who won't give up on him or her. It blessed me tremendously to think of the fact that maybe God had looked around and decided that I could do it. I could parent the kiddo that many others might give up on. Yes, that was humbling.
Yet, even more humbling than being chosen to parent a challenging kiddo (and really, aren't they all somewhat challenging?) was the realization that as much as this child needs me, I need this child. I shudder to think of the person I might be if I hadn't had this child. I'd be full of pride, not grace. Grace is so much better.
One of the most important lessons I've learned in my life is that the right thing is hardly ever the easy thing. Being the mama to a challenging child is never the easy thing, yet I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's the right thing. I know I'm better for it and it's my prayer that my child is as well.