This is an ongoing series in which I am exploring some of the issues in which we mommies not only face unnecessary guilt, but also place unnecessary burdens on our sisters in Christ.
This has been the hardest blog post to write. I know what I want to say, but I come off either sounding like a self righteous know it all (not the way to fight mommy guilt) or someone who would let her children play in traffic to learn speed and reflexive response. Just FYI, I’m not that last thing. Of all the posts I am planning to write in this series, this one is the most personal for me. When my children are sick or injured I am not only convinced it is because of something I have or have not done, I am also sure that everyone around me is blaming me.
The truth of the matter is, that I’m not alone on this. The scared mommy lobby affects public and private policy and state and federal law every year. No child should ever be born prematurely, suffer birth trauma, have childhood diseases, be vaccinated for childhood diseases, be obese, be underweight, be over fed, go hungry, be left behind, fail, be bullied, and the list goes on. I know that I don’t want any of those things for my children. I don’t want them to struggle with the same sin patterns I face. I don’t want them to be betrayed by someone they think they love or physically hurt by someone they think is a friend. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them. That’s admirable, right? That’s showing that I’m a loving and caring mother who wants the best for my children, right?
Well, not exactly.
There are two biblical principles we need to consider here. First, in this life we will have trials, and so will our children. We live in a fallen world corrupted by sin. Pain and sickness are a daily reminder of our need for Christ’s redeeming work. If the Lord doesn’t chose to lift pain and sickness and discomfort from us, and he is the perfect Father, then why should we, as imperfect parents, even want to try? Additionally, why do we think we can? Like I said last week, it is a form of self-deification to believe that we can control things at this level.
Secondly, scripture tells us the purpose of suffering:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
So the Lord uses the things we struggle with to make us more like Christ. When we seek to remove all suffering from our children’s lives, we are actually relegating them to a form of spiritual developmental delay. By operating on a principle that our children should never suffer, we are, in effect, saying that their temporary booboos are more important to us than their eternal souls.
Sure, we need to be responsible. I buckle my children in their car seats. I don’t give them poison to drink. I teach them not to run in front of cars. And then, I praise the Lord that He has numbered everything from the hair on their heads to the number of their days. As I have been writing this I have become convicted that instead of trying to prevent/deflect/absorb/outlaw any suffering from my children’s lives, I should instead be teaching them how to suffer well, to the glory of the God who is actively building them up into his image. I’ll let you know how that goes.
For more reading on this subject I recommend this post from the Christian Pundit on the Lord’s Provision in the face of a mother’s worst nightmare.