I was recently praying with a friend about a big decision looming on the horizon for my family. While praying, I noticed some fear begin to emerge over the possibility that, somehow, I could miss God’s direction. I grew increasingly concerned that I could make the wrong decision. This feeling became so intense that my friend suggested I ask God if there was something I needed to know about missing God’s leading.
Much to my surprise, what surfaced was a bit of sadness. Recently, I had been feeling like I missed God’s leading in the not-so-distant past which led to lost time with my children. This loss, what we refer to as, “attachment pain,” left me feeling heartbroken and sad.
You see, last year I stepped down from a volunteer position I started years ago before my sons were born. At the time, I felt God’s clear direction that I should invest my time and energy into this position and serve Him through the ministry role. When my first son was born, I cut back on my hours, and I reassigned responsibilities to other people. However, I continued in the role even though I needed to hire a babysitter several times a week while I worked.
Once my second son was born two years later, I again rearranged some responsibilities and cut back more time. Still, I continued working in this volunteer role. Over the years the work shifted as did my role, but I continued to work without checking if God still wanted me working. Finally, last year arrived. Significant changes made it clear my time was coming to a close. I stepped down.
After realizing it was time to move on, a series of thought-provoking questions lingered in my mind.
- Why did I continue in this role long after my sons were born?
- This job did not provide finances for our young family. Why did I devote so much time into something that took me away from my children?
- Was God trying to get my attention – and I just missed it?
- Should I have accepted this role in the first place?
Before I knew it, resentment began to grow and try to build a home in my mind. I resented the fact that I lost precious hours away from my sons. I resented (and grieved) that I did not step down sooner. At this point, I paused and noticed my peace was missing in action.
When God brought these thoughts to my awareness, I realized the painful lack of peace from the past was coloring my current situation. I did not have God’s perspective on this volunteer role. I desperately needed God’s peace to move forward.
I took a moment to focus on a time I felt God’s nearness. After a few minutes, I asked Immanuel what I should know about the volunteer position. What happened next would change everything.
What came to mind was something I heard from Dr. Jim Wilder years ago. Dr. Wilder said that we are mirrors for our children. We reflect a picture of who they are. Because we all have distortions, no single mirror can reveal the full range of a person’s identity and value. Therefore, what is needed are many mirrors to give our children (and ourselves) the best possible picture of who we are. I felt God gently tell me that I did not have everything I needed to give my children. For this reason, He brought supplemental resources in the form of young babysitters who could delight over and love on my children.
At first, this assessment brought some shame because I recognized I was not enough for my children. Thankfully, this quickly dissipated and was replaced with the thought, “You are not enough for your children because you are not supposed to be.”
God understood my weaknesses and remembered my limitations. For example, playing does not come naturally for me because I did not learn to play very well as a child. This continues to be an area under construction as I grow in new ways with my sons.
On the other hand, the babysitters who watched my sons were excellent at play! These young adults were an incredible, joyful presence at our house. They offered their undivided attention to my sons by playing games, drawing with sidewalk chalk, creating fun stories and teaching my sons to expand their creativity and imagination. I felt like Immanuel was showing me that He led me to volunteer to introduce joyful influences who could supplement crucial areas where I was weak. In His infinite wisdom, God knows a community of people are needed to help our children gain the best possible “identity panorama” for the most explicit and most comprehensive picture.
God turned my shame and weakness into an opportunity to see His plan unfold for community. Parents, the reality is we are not enough. Do you feel as though you have to be more than you are? We are not designed to be everything for our sons and daughters. Our children require a vast array of influences and reflections outside of ourselves.
Where can you create opportunities to develop joyful influences into your life as well as the lives of your children? Who do you know is strong where you are weak? Who might jump at the opportunity to join the rich tapestry of joyful faces reflecting God’s face shining over your family? This may be the start of something special for you.
If you know a parent who seems overwhelmed or someone who can use a bit of encouragement, I invite you to spread some hope and share this blog post.