Imagine the scene. You and your family take a vacation up north to unwind in the sunshine and lakewater air. You eat good food, laugh until your cheeks hurt, and make so many memories you need five picture books just to hold them all.
As you pack up to leave, you reflect on how full your heart is: How did you get to be so lucky? Your daughters start recounting their favorite highlights from the weekend, and you assume your son will chime in soon too, but he doesn’t.
You yell his name to the back of the car but he doesn’t say a word — because he’s not with you!
Frantic, you immediately slam on the brakes and start screaming at everyone (naturally), and as you turn the car around you feel your heart pounding through your neck and up into your ears.
You screech into the cabin driveway and start screaming his name as you look in the woods, the dock, the cabin…only he’s nowhere to be found. All you hear is your panic-stricken voice echoing off the pine trees.
Where IS he?!?!
Your husband finally calls 911, because doing so for you means that this nightmare is actually a reality, but they’re no help either.
For three days you search for him; and with every wrenching minute that passes you start to assume the worst.
But then, as if out of nowhere, you find him … sitting in a local church pew talking theology with a priest. Ah! How would you feel??
Relief. Anger. Guilt. Exhaustion. Sickness. Shame. (How could this have happened??!) Every human emotion would be coursing through your body, right?
And friends, this is exactly how Mary felt when she lost Jesus in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-50).
Can you even imagine what she must have been thinking??! I swear God put this story in the Bible for all mothers everywhere — because if Mary could lose the Savior of the world, isn’t it probable that we will mess up too?
This means that, yes, we will forget our kids at soccer games or get mad at them in Target or accidentally feed them a Lara bar when they’re severely allergic to cashews! (This actually happened, you guys – I did this. Sob!)
We’re not perfect mothers but God is!
And when Jesus says, “Why were you searching for me [mom]?…Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (v 49), it seems like he’s just being snarky (can’t you imagine Mary’s face as she’s about to punish 12-year old Jesus!), but then she realizes something: of course he’s in God’s house … that’s the safest place for him to be in!
And the same is true for our kids.
We can’t sequester them in our safe little two-story homes or give them a ten-foot leash to run on so we can always hear them. We can’t do this because keeping our children to ourselves means we don’t trust God to protect them, and nothing could be farther from the truth (just read Psalm 91 and 121 for example).
Intellectually, as mothers, we know this to be true, yet it’s a whole other thing to walk it out on a daily basis. I mean, I want to bubble wrap my kids too! It’s a normal “mama bear” reaction when you love something more than you love yourself; but putting our loved ones in God’s hands is the ONLY way to combat our fears and find total peace.
So let’s put a stake in the ground today, mamas, and say that we trust in God more than our love for our kids.
Let’s spend less time worrying about our mistakes or how scary the world is so we can teach them how to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6). THIS is the ultimate way they will feel equipped to fight their own battles anyway, because they’ll be fighting them with Jesus…in their Father’s house.
Journal / Reflection Questions
- Are there any mistakes you’ve made in parenting that you can’t seem to let go of? Or, What part of your mothering are you still holding on to? Pray about both and ask God to take over on your behalf!
- Now pray this prayer out loud: Heavenly Father, help me give my child/ren to you today. Help me surrender the mighty weight of keeping them protected here on earth to you. I pray that any guilt or shame I might carry around because of parenting mistakes can be unearthed so I can walk in freedom. Thank you for carrying my burdens so I don’t have to. And above all else, thank you for going before me when I can’t and for loving my kids even more than I do. AMEN!
Jonna Meidal is a mother to 3 girls who seeks to parent them by the fruits of the spirit (and her Quiet Hat). She’s been to 20 countries (yay!), loves to write & laugh (a LOT), & can’t get through the day without eating popcorn (duh!). You can read more of what she’s been up to at jonnameidal.com or follow her adventures on Instagram @quiet.hat.adventures.