The past year, like every year, has brought a thousand woes. I’ve seen families grieve empty seats at the table. New mamas leaving the hospital with empty blankets that should be full of new life, only to go home to an empty crib. Marriages on the rocks, full of hurt, betrayal, harsh words. Women taking multiple pregnancy tests only to see one line appear over and over and over again. That foster mom who wonders how the child she has mothered over the last three years will do now that he’s beyond her care. Moms and Dads spending hours in hospitals advocating for their sick child. Friends hoping that this next relationship is the one, only to be heartbroken and left to attend weddings alone and face awkward questions… yet again. Parents fighting and praying for the wayward child.
It’s everywhere. Disappointment. Heartache. Brokenness. And I’ve come to the realization that I can’t control which heartaches you face.
Three years ago we had just found out that we were expecting the two of you. It was a joyous season full of celebration and preparation. Many nights I would lie awake rubbing my growing belly praying for you. Praying for God to grow you into women who love Him. Praying for God to shield you from the brokenness of this world. That he would keep you from harm and hardship. That you would grow strong and healthy, and that you’d live a life that honors Him.
It is every mother’s prayer.
But my precious ones, my prayer has changed over the last few months.
Over the last year, I’ve watched my own mother pray hundreds of silent prayers for the Lord to take a burden from me. Again, it’s what we mothers do. When our children’s hearts break… ours do too. But through this dark season I’ve learned more about who God is as Abba Father than I have in the all my years of reading about Him. Without the pain I would have never fully known that when gray skies hover, God draws near to the brokenhearted.
Over the past year, I’ve learned that God doesn’t abandon his own in the storm. He doesn’t leave them alone to weather the dark skies, fierce wind, and never-ending rain; rather he builds a shelter and invites us in. Although he can part the Red Sea and calm the storm with just a few words, He doesn’t always make the clouds part and the sun shine when we want him to. But that doesn’t mean He is any less good. In fact, I’d wager that these hard seasons are when He does some of His best work. The real beauty from ashes stuff.
You see no one wants the ashes. No one wants to walk through the pain to get to the beauty. And no mother wants to watch her children walk through dark days. But I can no longer in good conscience pray for your life to be exempt from hardship, rejection, or pain.
So I’ve stopped.
Instead, I’ve started begging the Lord to be near to you when the brokenness of this world comes knocking at your door. I’ve spent countless hours pleading with God to not allow hurt to crush or harden your heart, but instead to soften it towards your maker. I pray that you never get too comfortable and believe the lie that you can do this life without our Savior. And when hard moments remind you of this reality, I'm praying that you allow our God to do what he does best. I'm praying that you find his shelter and give him your ashes so he can turn them into something beautiful.
My little ones, you are strong, but He is stronger. And when you can’t feel God’s presence during difficult moments, I want you to stop trying to feel Him and instead look for His strong hand moving on your behalf. Look at the people he’s placed around you, the ways in which He’s provided, and mostly look to the cross and the empty tomb. Because when all else fails, that empty tomb brings more hope for our broken world than any other moment in history. And if that empty tomb is BIG enough to provide hope to all mankind, that means it’s big enough for your troubles too.
So I’m done praying for a trouble-free life. Not because I don’t love you, but because I love you too much. I love you too much to wish you to know a life without need of a great Savior. I love you too much to think I can control what your life holds. And I love you so much that it is my prayer, every morning and evening, that in your highest highs and your lowest lows you draw near to the one who loves you more than I.