By Phoebe Farag Mikhail
I recently started reading a book to help me figure out some issues I’ve been dealing with concerning one of my children. I felt frustrated; the issues were sucking away time that I needed to be doing other things, causing me to spend later nights to get those things done instead of sleeping.
In order to help parents deal with their frustration with their problems, the author of the book reminded parents that “this is the hand you were dealt.” In other words, it’s not worth stewing over why you have to deal with these problems. It’s life, it’s your child, work with it.
To a certain degree this helped. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized something. My child and the problems we are dealing with are not “the hand we were dealt.”
My child is a gift to me from God. A gift I am thankful for.
This reorientation did marvels for my frustration level. After all, if this child is a gift from God, then these problems we are facing are also a gift from God. Perhaps I need to learn something from all this (like patience). Perhaps when we come to solutions we’ll also come to a greater understanding and love for one another. Perhaps I’ll never know why I had to deal with this situation, but that’s ok.
It’s ok because it’s my child, and my child is a gift from God.
A friend recently shared the same sentiment with me. She had been sharing with me some struggles she was having with her own children, until she finally said, “but I prayed for them.” After almost a decade being married and battling infertility, she prayed for those children and God answered her.
It’s a beautiful struggle when the struggle is an answered prayer.
Unexpected or unplanned children are just as much a gift from God. In her book Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton recounts that sense she felt when she discovered she was pregnant. Hung over on a cold bathroom floor and recognizing this gift from God, she decided to confront all her addictions so she could accept His gift.
This doesn’t make it easier to deal with our problems. I still get frustrated. I still worry, and I still have many unanswered questions. I’ve never met a parent, however, who has it easy. Every family has its own mixture of genetic and environmental factors that came together to create their circumstances. Remembering that my child is a gift from God reminds me that these factors did not come together by accident. Some are my own doing, some are inherited, but in everything, when I give thanks, the frustration wears away and if solutions don’t come, at least peace does.
Peace comes, and so does love.
One evening, after a particularly difficult day, I was starting bedtime with my children, and one of them asked me, “Momma, why did you have babies if you knew we would be so troublesome?” After chuckling at my child’s insight, I could only reply, “I had you because you are God’s gift to me. I wanted to have babies so I could love you.” Satisfied, they fell asleep, while I stayed awake mulling over it all.
My child is not a problem, an issue, a “hand I was dealt.” My child is a beautiful gift from God, a bit of creation He has given to my care despite my own shortcomings. I am thankful for my children, even when it is hard, even when it’s a struggle sometimes, even when I go to bed in tears. I may need to grit my teeth sometimes when I say it, but I say it, and the frustration fades away.
Thank you, God, for these most precious gifts.
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(c) Phoebe Farag 2016