Many years ago, an article I read described being a mother as having a piece of your heart walk around in another person. When your child hurts, you hurt. When they rejoice, you rejoice with them. Weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice is scriptural (Rom. 12:15), but those feelings are magnified when the one doing the weeping or rejoicing is your child.
I wasn’t an overprotective parent. As my daughters grew up, I allowed them to work out their challenges to the extent it was appropriate for their ages and maturity levels. Even so, they knew I was there to back them up, and when issues arose that were beyond their abilities, I stepped in to advocate for them.
I’d like to say I always did so with grace, but there were times when anger or frustration got the best of me. Though this may not be the best example, it’s the one that came to mind immediately as I typed that line. One morning, I was following behind newly licensed Mary, who was driving to school with her younger sister Jessie in the passenger seat. Someone cut between us and started tailgating Mary. Unable to give the driver an ample piece of my mind regarding road etiquette, I did the next best thing – I gave her a long, loud blast of my horn. Not my proudest mom moment, but my “cub” was threatened, and it was the only way I could intervene.
Fast forward nearly 20 years. In addition to my beloved daughters, I now have pieces of my heart residing in a dear son-in-law and three precious grandchildren. Grandmama bear is real, friends! From the early days of strolling grandson Joshua through the neighborhood and wondering how I’d fight off an unfamiliar dog who was eyeing us with a menacing glare to now, messing with my kids or grandkids is likely to raise my hackles.
Such was the case recently. Though it would be inappropriate for me to share details of the challenges we’re currently facing, suffice it to say it’s as if someone threw a grenade into our family. Misunderstandings, accusations, and ultimatums splattered everywhere. And now we’re left to pick up the pieces and find a way forward.
My heart aches for my children and grandchildren.
Reaction or Restraint?
The first few days after hearing the news, my emotions ran hot. Anger, sorrow, bewilderment – back and forth, up and down, my feelings tumbled and churned. Grandmama bear wanted to confront those who’d wreaked havoc, demand an explanation, and describe the painful aftermath of their actions.
But in the two decades since the horn-blowing incident, my spirit has become quieter and gentler because of the influence of the Spirit that dwells within me. So instead of lashing out, I took my jumbled emotions to the One who hears it all and bears it all. After several days of crying out to the Lord, He reminded me that nothing comes to us before it passes through His hand. It wasn’t “those people” who’d inflicted the situation on us. No, our loving heavenly Father had allowed it for His purposes.
A Firm Foundation
Spewing hateful words and blaring our horns at people may make us feel better in the moment, but Scripture tells us it is fools who give full vent to their anger (Prov. 29:11). Such behavior merely multiplies the harm (Prov. 15:1). As a senior member of my family who yearns to sow seeds that will yield sweet, lasting fruit for generations to come, my actions need to point them to Jesus. Thus,
- I can pray for my family without ceasing and in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:17; Phil. 4:6-7). When a horde comes against us, and the way ahead is unclear as it is now, I can pray as Jehoshaphat did, “Lord, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are fixed on you” (2 Chron. 2:12).
- I can be diligent in sharing my love of God with my grandchildren, weaving His word into our conversations as we sit at the table eating lunch, when we stroll the sidewalks of their neighborhood looking at plants and critters, and when we say bedtime prayers on sleepover nights (Deut. 6:7).
- I can recite countless examples of God’s goodness to our family, reminding them that God has never forsaken us and never will. Those stories are part of my grandchildren’s heritage of faith, no less than God’s people hearkening back to their deliverance from Egypt (Ps. 78:1-4).
- As one who has endured the sanctifying fires of loss and hardship, I can testify that God’s promises are a sure anchor for our souls and that His word is a firm foundation on which to build our lives. When the winds of adversity blow through our days, they won’t topple us (Matt. 7:24-25).
As much as this (grand)mama bear would like to protect her offspring and shelter them from all harm, I know that my faith has grown most through the times when I came to the end of myself and clung to God for help. I can say with Elisabeth Elliott, “The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”
I would not wish a stunted faith for my children and grandchildren. Therefore, I will entrust them to the One who loves them perfectly and eternally, knowing that He will work every hurt and heartache for good (Rom. 8:28). I will watch and pray and continue to grow right along with them.
 Elisabeth Elliot, Suffering is Never for Nothing (Nashville, B&H Publishing Group, 2019), p. 9.
Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash