It happened one weekday afternoon as I drove home after running a few errands. I had been troubled, disappointed, and discouraged about my youngest daughter.
She was our surprise child. I’d given away all things baby. I was more than grateful my body was once again my own after repeated pregnancy/nursing cycles.
The day I discovered I was pregnant…again…I cried. For three days I mourned, shook my head in disbelief and cried some more. Then I gave thanks for this unexpected gift and never looked back. Because she was so clearly sent from God, I enjoyed her in a way I hadn’t with the others.
Well aware of my multiplied failings, my too high control patterns as a mom, I determined this time to relax, enjoy my children more and stress less.
Fourteen years later, Laura was a teenager and like her older siblings, it was her turn to test our limits. While we were out of town the previous weekend, Laura had stayed with her best friend; and there had been a party, which included a group of 8th grade boys and girls who were mostly all friends. But one boy, who liked our daughter, managed to get her alone and steal a kiss.
My high hopes that she would wait until her wedding for her first kiss, like her big brother did, had decisively ended. My resolution to worry less also failed. I spent time blaming myself and analyzing my every parenting move for days, asking what could we have done differently.
In hindsight, I realized I’d made saving a first kiss for the wedding day my goal for her when it needed to be hers. Also, I came to see that this kind of situation could have happened at our house or anywhere else just as easily. Clearly, control was still an issue for me as a mom.
You who are parents know what it’s like to have high hopes and goals. From the time our children are toddlers we want the best for our kids, strive to protect them from harm and pain, have dreams and aspirations that are usually noble and good. We want them to obey and do what is right, knowing that is the safest road through life.
But we also know disappointment because our children have a free will. They disobey. They display crummy attitudes. They fight with siblings and say things they shouldn’t. As they grow up, they must choose which beliefs and values of their parents they will claim as their own.
As I drove up our street to arrive home before the kids got out of school that day, my troubled soul suddenly heard the words to this hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
I hadn’t heard that hymn in years. There was no explanation for its melody in my ears other than the kind and gracious Spirit of God wanted me to see clearly that I was putting my hope in the sweet frame of my last child instead of His Rock.
He was right of course. It’s so easy to put my hope in my husband, my children, my good intentions, my circumstances, in the outcome of the next election, or a thousand things other than Christ alone.
I wanted something for my daughter that is impossible on earth: a pain-free, obedient life. I was trusting in my inability to parent perfectly and her inability to always do the right thing.
This Saturday, October 22, Dennis will walk our surprise baby down the aisle and we will give her away to a man we’ve prayed for since she was a toddler. God’s timing for her marriage was not what I had imagined or asked for. Waiting on God’s plan as she watched dozens of friends get married was not easy.
Though I longed for a pain-free life journey for her, I have learned, as she has, that there is no such thing on this earth. God’s amazing grace has woven beauty and depth and compassion in her soul from all that I would have spared her from if I’d had the power.
“Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakuk 1:5). God gave this verse to Laura and me at different times in the last few years. Much of the story of her life, my life, God’s provision of a husband fall into the “you would not believe if told” category. This verse will be framed and displayed at the wedding, a declaration of God’s active presence in our lives.
God loves to delight, surprise, and prove Himself faithful to His children, even though our hope in Him too easily slides to other things. Such is our unchanging God who never leaves or forsakes us.
May the words of this old hymn remind you, as it does me, to daily realign hope so it rests only on Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Stability is in Him alone. All other ground is sinking sand.
I’ll post wedding photos and video as soon as we can! We might even snap a pic of the long-awaited wedding kiss!
Here’s a few other posts about Laura’s engagement that you might enjoy reading in anticipation of wedding day!