A special young lady in my life just became a mama recently. She’s amazing and if anyone was ready for it, it was her. She spent years while getting her education in the mental health field providing respite care for our daughter and coming to my rescue when sometimes I just needed a break.
Just the other day as she was visiting, she told me that being a mom is harder than she ever imagined. And I think every single one of us who has become a mama agrees with her because raising children is tough. Way tougher than we ever imagined!
Today, I’m excited to share with you another sweet mama who snatched my heart right from the start. Emily Wood blogs over at Splashes of Joy and shares my heart for parenting and for adoption. Today she’s sharing with you what happens when we choose to let go.
Raising Children: This Is What Happens When You Choose to Let Go
Everyone knows water usually has a chill. But since we were in the mountains of North Carolina … in APRIL … this water was more on the arctic side. I tried to avoid getting wet, as I slowly sat on my tube. Of course, I didn’t really want to sit all the way in since I didn’t want my backside completely going numb. But while trying to avoid the frigid water, I also didn’t want to flip the tube because I most definitely didn’t want to fall completely in.
In other words, I laid on the tube like a stiff board.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone, though. We were camping with three other families from our church so I was on this tubing adventure with three other moms.
As we made our way down the river, we hadn’t gone too far to discover the river was a bit rougher than we had all thought. Apparently, all the rain from the previous few months made the river higher than normal making it flow faster.
Instead of simply floating peacefully down a relaxing river, it became more like a wild water ride at an amusement park. Do you know the one I’m talking about? Where you go through the whitewater rapids, the tube spinning and turning. You desperately hope the tube will turn in such a way that your side doesn’t hit the dip in the rapid. Because if YOUR side of the tube hits, you get soaked.
Well, our experience on the actual river, felt very much the same way.
The four of us were holding onto each other so we wouldn’t float off by ourselves. As we saw each rapid coming, quickly we would start trying to turn, turn, turn … so that we wouldn’t hit it “back first”. Of course, it didn’t always work and the water would hit one of us, splashing us so that our clothes were drenched.
There we were, briskly moving down the river. Four grown women laughing and screaming each time the icy water splashed up against us.
It was definitely a sight to see, as you might imagine. (There were actually a few men fly fishing on the river. And I’m pretty sure they had a really great story to tell when they got home.)
We kept thinking each rough area would be the last, only to discover there were more. It was a relief when we finally came to a calm spot. Wet and shivering, we sat in our tubes laughing at what a ride it had turned out to be.
Raising Children Bravely
Later, I shared with the other moms the one thing that had gone through my mind during the wild ride. It turns out, they had the same thought on their minds as well. We were all in disbelief that we had allowed our kids to go down this very same river.
Yep. Prior to our ride, we had allowed all of our kids to go down the river with the dads. Including my little boys who were 2 and 4 at the time.
In the midst of the discussion, one of my sweet friends, Heather, said, “If we had all gone down the river first, we probably wouldn’t have let our kids do down.”
And you know what? She was right! If I had gone down the river first, I can assure you, I would not have sent my two little guys down the river.
But the next words out of her mouth spoke straight to my heart, “And just think —because of our fears and worries, they would have missed out on a fun memory and experience.”
What she said couldn’t have been more true and it was something foundational to consider in our moments of raising children.Because of our fears and worries, our children may miss out on the very things they need to grow into who they are meant to be. Click To Tweet
Protecting and Preparing
At the beginning of this year, God gave me the word prepare.
Part of this included planning ahead for the week, for birthdays, and other events. I needed to be better prepared. But I also felt the Lord teaching me more about preparing my boys to be Godly men.
I’ve recognized that sometimes my way of preparing my boys is simply to protect them. In my head, I think, “If I can just protect them, they won’t get hurt. We can just avoid the situation altogether.”
Many times, I find myself wanting my boys to simply float down the river of life – void of any rocks, rapids, or waterfalls. And sometimes what I do to protect my children from the whitewater ride of life is to not let them go down the river at all.Sometimes what I do to protect my children from the whitewater ride of life is to not let them go down the river at all. Click To Tweet
For me, this specifically pertains to my oldest son, John Lucas, who we adopted through foster care.
I wasn’t there for the first four years of his life. Then, when he first came to us there were so many other voices (judges, DSS, etc.) in his life that we were forced into opening our hands and surrendering control. So the moment John Lucas became our son, I quickly closed that hand around him (tightly) and wanted to do everything I could do to protect him.
And although there are times, places, and seasons where we definitely need to protect our children from things, the truth is (WHEW THIS IS A TOUGH ONE) we can’t protect them from everything. (Boy, life would be easier if we could. RIGHT?!?!)
Protecting my boys is not always truly preparing them.Protecting my boys is not always truly preparing them. #raisingchildren Click To Tweet
God’s been showing me in the past few weeks that in raising children sometimes I have to let go. And I’m going to have to let my boys experience some of the rapids of life.
Because here’s the thing! It is better for my boys to face some of the hard in life while they are with me so I can walk alongside them and point them to Christ.
Just like my boys experienced the same things I did as they went down the river.
Icy water splashing.
But while they were experiencing that, my husband was with them.
We would have been completely foolish and ignorant if we had just sent our two-year-old or four-year-old down the river saying, “Have a good time!” Instead, we sent them with my husband. An he was there to encourage and guide them through all the bumps along the way.
Just like Christ is there for us now as we face the rapids of life. For now, God has placed us in our children’s lives so that we can be the tangible place to turn when the circumstances are difficult. Our job in raising children is to point them to Jesus. To protect them, yes, but ultimately to prepare them for the day they go out on their own.
… But WAIT!
Emily isn’t quite finished with this story! Come back next week when she takes it one step further. A step that taught her more about trust and about surrendering to the Lord. ♥
God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. -Psalm 18:30 NLT
Emily is the granddaughter, daughter, and wife of a pastor. She now writes at Splashes of Joy where, through her experiences with infertility, fostering, adoption, and giving birth, she shares the faithfulness of the Lord. Her hope and prayer is that she can share what she has learned (and continues to learn) through her unexpected path into motherhood. You can connect with Emily on her blog and on Instagram.
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Have You Read Our Story of Surrender?
Through our adoption journey, God brilliantly showed us the power of living surrendered. We discovered the peace that comes when we walk in God’s will and trust wherever He takes us. Finding that doesn’t usually come along golden paved roads, though. It comes along the broken ones. But along those roads, we discover our purpose in life – what God had in mind for us all along.Summer Sale!! Surrendered Hearts! Our story of hope - of learning to surrender ... because we all need the help in letting go of what isn't ours to hold. #surrenderedheartsbook #hope Click To Tweet
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