Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
I often hear from people how impressed they are with the way I take things in stride, particularly as it relates to my daughter. When I hear this I tend to say something along the lines of “Thank you…[current issue] is really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things…” as I shrug my shoulders. I am always gratified to hear it, because my actions are intentional, and it is good to receive the affirmation that they appear to be effective. As I look around I see that my calm response is truly not typical. Many of us seem to parent reactively, often from fear. I don’t parent differently because of some super strength or natural ability. While the way I parent is becoming automatic, it is not because of me, it is because of the truths to which I cling.
The world can be scary. If I let myself, particularly recently, I could sink into despair and fear over what the future might hold for my children. In fact, there were a couple of days in November when I did just that. Where I cried over my daughter as I considered the hardships she might have to suffer in her lifetime. As I cried and prayed over her, the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit whispered to me: “Katy, the best thing for your child is not for her life to be easy; it is for her to love Me so desperately, so passionately, that when the difficulties of life arise, she does not falter. Don’t pray for her to be safe. Pray for her to be willing to be unsafe.”
When Aria fractured her wrist, I was concerned that she not have any permanent damage that would impede her throughout life. I don’t want that for my daughter; however, if we had found it to be the case, we would have rolled with it, just like we do everything else. When we found it was not the case, the entire issue of a fractured wrist became quite minor. The pain and inconvenience are temporary. The adaptability Aria learns as she adjusts to this shift in her environment is ultimately good for her. While I would never want her to have a broken arm, neither do I think it is a horrible occurrence. It is an unfortunate consequence of living in a broken world, and thus it is just a part of life. She can start learning that even now.
To the best of my ability, I do not react to life (circumstances, people, all of it). I respond to life with purpose, particularly in front of my child. I do not believe she needs to proceed through life with fear, because I know the truths that the Lord is always with her, that nothing will ever happen to her about which He does not know and which He cannot work for her good and His glory.
While she is little, Aria takes all of her cues from the adults she trusts, and I will not allow her to grow up thinking she needs to be fearful of the world in which she lives. With whatever power I have in her life, and whatever ability, through the grace of God, I have to teach her truth through my actions and my words, I will teach her that she can choose joy in her circumstances. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is that our lives honor our Creator. When I respond with fear, I am telling the Lord, and Aria, that I can’t trust Him. That is not God-honoring. When I respond with confidence that, though our circumstances may not be what I had hoped, all is still well, I am showing Aria that she can have that same confidence.
We have yet to face anything in life that I consider truly trying – no long term or life threatening illness, no loss of our possessions, no devastating accidents or attacks. Some or all of those things may come. I am not arrogant enough to think I know how I will respond if they do. More than likely, these things I have learned I will, at least in part, have to relearn. That is okay. By the grace of God I pray that as Andy and I train our children, we would be willing to be unsafe for His glory.
It Is Well with My Soul
Horatio Spafford and Philip Bliss
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
This is one of my favorite hymns, and I sing it to Aria often. I sing it when either of us is disquieted. It comes to me when I am tempted to react in fear, rather than respond with faith, and its repetition drives all the fear away – how can I fear when “Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul”?