Mum to the Rescue

My oldest son, started Kindergarten this year—a transition that has been long anticipated by everyone in our family. Obviously, there were the nerves and tears (from everyone) that came with such a momentous change. But, all in all, the transition has been smooth and welcome.

Yesterday after school I was chatting to my son about his day. I asked him the usual questions: “Did you have a good day? What did you learn? Who did you play with at lunch time?”

Knocked for Six

His response to the final question knocked me for six. He said he was playing with his friend, but then his friend told him that he didn’t want to play with him today. I asked him what did he did after that. He responded and said that he went and sat on the buddy chair. The buddy chair is a cleverly set up space for kids to go to when they don’t have anyone to play with. There is always someone there, usually an older student to hang out with and make you feel included. At that moment, I was very thankful for such a space and at the same time my heart was breaking inside for my little 5 year old. How could this happen to such a sweet, friendly boy? How could anyone not want to play with him? Is this what school life was going to be like for my son? A series of painful social exclusions?

My first response? Rescue mode—Alert! Alert! What can I do to save my son from a friendless existence both now and in the future? My mind started racing with ways to solve the problem. I thought about talking to the mum of his friend about being nice to him, I called my husband to get his take on the situation, I even contacted one of the other mums in the class trying to organise a playdate with other kids so he could diversify his friendship portfolio.

At that point, I stopped. I decided to take a deep breath and to start unpacking my rescue plan and my breaking heart. Firstly, I had to acknowledge that the pain I felt for my son was mostly coming from the years of tumultuous relationships I had during school. Whilst I had plenty of friends throughout the 13 years of my education, there were plenty of hurtful words exchanged, plenty of rejection and plenty of lonely lunchtimes without the buddy chair. I didn’t want to start interfering in my son’s life just because I still have pain when I think about some of those days and what I experienced. But I couldn’t let my thinking stop there.

Not My Child

I started to dwell on how God fits into all of this and how I need to trust him now more than ever. From the time that my son was born I was aware that he was a gift from God, not MY child, but one given to me, almost on loan to, at some point, be given back. The thankfulness and deep sense of responsibility for this gift has stayed with me throughout the five years that he has been home with me, but until now I haven’t really had to put this theological truth into action.

My son has been with me, I have been able to see when he’s happy and when he’s sad. I’ve been able to talk with him and walk with him through joys and pain and I’ve always been there when he’s needed me. So, whilst I’ve theoretically understood that he is God’s and not mine, I haven’t really needed to let the rubber hit the road. For all matter of purposes, it has felt like he is actually mine. But now, for six hours a day, he’s gone. Whilst I love and respect my son’s teacher deeply, she won’t be able to give him the same one-on-one care that I do—nor should she. Inevitably there will be times, like yesterday’s lunchtime when he is going to have to work it out. And more importantly, times that I’m going to have to trust that God has got him.

I ended up having this discussion with God:

God, it’s really hard to let my son go and trust that you’re looking after him. It’s really hard knowing that he may have things ahead of him that will hurt him and cause him deep pain, both physical and emotional, and that I won’t be there to rescue him. It’s really hard to be a bystander as I let you take him on the journey that you have for him. God, I just don’t want him to suffer.

But during that prayer, I had to acknowledge that I couldn’t stop my son from experiencing the hurtful things that I hated experiencing myself. Not only that, if these things are part of God’s will for him then I need to trust that God will be with him and use those painful experiences to bring about his purposes in his life, shaping him to be more like His son every day, and turning this beautiful boy into someone eternally beautiful.

God’s Greater Plans

I wondered if Jacob could have, would he have stopped Joseph being sold into slavery? There’s no need to wonder, of course he would have. But then the great salvation that God brought about through Joseph’s leadership in Egypt may not have come to fruition. I wondered if Mary could have, would she have saved Jesus from torture under the Roman guard and the excruciating death that followed? Again, no need to wonder, of course she would have. Do I even need to describe the outcome of this parental interference? God’s plans and purposes extend far beyond our physical and emotional comfort. Being taken through failure, rejection and loss, as well as success and joys, are all part of the way that God brings his amazing plans to fruition in our lives.

God’s plans and purposes extend far beyond our physical and emotional comfort.

So, I found myself humbled once again and needing to surrender. It wasn’t something that I had expected to do as I’d deluded myself into thinking I was living in a surrendered state all along. And yet, when my fears and my worries crept in for my son I realised that I wasn’t completely trusting God with his life. I’m certainly good at holding on to the good gifts that God has given me with a tightly closed fist. “I’ll look after it for you God! I’ve got it right here, in my hand.” And while God freely bestows us with amazing blessings, such as a beautiful son, he asks that we hold them securely, and yet lightly with our fingers wide open allow God to brings his plans to their fulfilment.

My Hopes, God’s Plans

I have many hopes and dream for my son. From a worldly perspective, I hope that he has friends at school; I hope that learns and loves to play music; I hope that he enjoys sport and being healthy; I hope that finds something to do in his life that he enjoys and at which he is successful; I hope he finds a lovely girl to marry and one day has a family with her; I hope that he has a long and happy life. Yet these hopes are completely short sighted and if I had my way, enabling them to happen, my son would not become the man of God that He has created him to be. I’m so glad that God’s hopes and plans for my son are much bigger than I can dream of or imagine. I’m so glad that God has eternal purposes in mind when he looks at his child.

Lord, may you enable me every day to step aside and let you go about the good work that you have started in my son. May you shape him to be more like Jesus through every situation and may he cling to you every moment of every day. Help me to trust that you care more about him than I ever could. Help me to hold him with open hands, enabling you to bring your plans for his life to fruition, through joys and through suffering. Amen.

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