It was 10:30 at night when my 16-year-old and her 16-year-old boyfriend dropped the news that they were pregnant. My husband spoke the wisest words. He said, “I suggest nobody say anything until we have time to really process this.” I wish everyone would take his advice.
We processed together as a family over the next several days. Almost immediately we felt the peace of God in our home. We shared with very close friends and some family because we knew we needed a rally team. We needed outside perspective. And eventually, once we moved into the next phase (preparing to meet this new addition), we shared on social media.
I have literally written a book on parenting. So, sharing something so vulnerable could have felt like I was admitting I am a fraud. But I will tell you here and now, that’s the wrong perspective. I am not defined as a mother by my child’s actions any more than she is defined by mine. I could be a totally trash mother to her, and she could remain amazing.
I believe this so deeply, I guess I thought many people thought the same thing. But then I started getting dozens of people reaching out on my post and in private, all saying the same things. “This must have been God’s plan,” and, “You’re still a good mom.”
My thoughts were this and in this order: um, no. That’s not biblically accurate, and yah. ::awkward side glance:: I know I am still a good mom.
I recognize a lot of parents struggle with insecurity, and I am no different. Except, in this situation, I can look back over my daughter’s life and know that we raised her with intentionality. We put boundaries in place and used as many opportunities as possible to have proactive conversation about life choices. In the end, she chose her own route. Which ended up having lifelong consequences.
That doesn’t change who I have been as a mother. It also doesn’t change who God has been, is, and will be forever. And never in any biblical passage have I ever read that God looked at someone’s sin and said, “this was my plan.”
There’s evidence of him hardening Pharaoh’s heart, and while I am not an expert on why God went this route, I believe much of it had to do with what it would take to get not only Pharaoh to relent, but what it would take for Israel to finally have the faith they needed to leave. This doesn’t seem to mirror my daughter’s experiences. Except to say, God will be glorified in the end.
There are plenty of passages in Scripture that clearly define sex within marriage and that it is meant for marriage alone. As a society we have lost the value of purity; both within and outside of the church. We see it as a small sin if we view it as a sin at all. As a youth pastor, I spoke to my students about purity, and they acted shocked that staying pure was a biblical mandate. And, while I absolutely love and respect my daughter and her boyfriend, the choice they made was not honoring to God. Nor will I pretend that it is in our conversations. I will allow that choice to stay where it was made- in the past.
Instead, I will remind them both that God looks at the inward heart. I will encourage them to choose differently from here on out. And above all, I will model to them what true love means both in the example I live as a wife to my husband and in my love and support to their new family of three.
Just as God loves me- endlessly, without warrant, full of grace because it’s not true that he planned for my kids to sin. But he plans to use this situation to draw others to him. He plans for every person who hears our story to look in and see a new way. Not condemnation, love. Not exasperating them with scripture and withholding our love and support based on our feelings of frustration. Just love.
Because kids do crazy things. They make choices right in between the cracks of our parenting. They brazenly walk through the best laid boundaries. All of which throw us into tizzies that threaten to undo our own faith.
But here’s the thing. Our hope isn’t in our kids’ ability to make right choices every day. Thankfully it isn’t in our parenting abilities either, because I think we can all agree that we are making it up most of the time. Our hope is in God Almighty and who he was and is and will be forever.
The same God who raised Lazarus from the dead after being in the grave for three days is the God who takes the craziest side-steps and uses them to return stray hearts to himself. We can relax as parents, not because we know it’s going to be easy, but because we know that God holds every bit of it in his capable hands.
So, we wake up each day and love our kids and snuggle that new sweet baby boy. We pray together and over them. And we simply continue to believe God when he says, “I’ve got this.”