When I first found out I was pregnant, I began a mental list of all the things I was going to pray for over this baby. That’s what a good pastor’s wife would do, right? I prayed for good health, I prayed for musical talent, I prayed for athleticism, I prayed for smart brains. I prayed that God would protect my child from trials and struggles.
As I continued praying for my kids, I thought of my many friends who didn’t have kids with “perfect” health or “perfect” brains. Some of them had even told my husband and me that they were thankful to God for these hardships because it brought the family closer together and closer to God. I began to think about how I was setting myself up to be disappointed. Of course my child will and should face some trials in life. Of course my child should face some setbacks. If I am constantly praying for these things or protection from these things, it will be easy to blame God that He isn’t listening to my prayers when those prayers aren’t fulfilled. As I was contemplating what my prayers had been, the story of Solomon’s prayer came up in my mind (1 Kings 3). God asked Solomon what he wanted. Instead of asking for wealth, health and/or fame, Solomon asked for a discerning heart (aka: wisdom) to govern His people. God was so happy that he had asked for this that he gave Solomon what Solomon didn’t ask for as well- riches, honor, and long life.
For a few days I struggled. I kept thinking, “If I don’t pray for good health, then God won’t give it to me or my child. If I don’t pray for _______, then terrible things will happen to us.” Then, I realized how silly I was being. If God truly loves me, which I believe He does, then what do I have to worry about?
So I began to change my prayers. I prayed that God would give me a child that would make me closer to Him. I prayed that God would allow negative things to happen to me and my child in order that we would run to Him for comfort and peace. I prayed that He would do everything in His power to make sure that we would stay focused on Him and be together in heaven. I prayed that my child would be kind, forgiving, humble, and compassionate. I reminded God of how much I knew that He loved us, and that I would accept anything from Him as from a loving Father.
After my baby was born, I cried a lot. Not because of postpartum blues or anything, but because I was amazed at God’s love. I looked at my child and I thought, “If I love this child this much, how much more does God love me and my child? I have nothing to fear about what God will allow in my life.”
We sacrifice a lot when we become parents. We sacrifice sleep, quiet showers, restaurant dining experiences, fashion, down time, and the list continues, but the ultimate sacrifice of parenthood is letting your child follow God’s leading in their lives. That leading may lead to martyrdom. Are we ready to watch our child die for Christ? I will attribute this idea to Oswald Chambers (but I can’t seem to find the exact location): if God allowed His own Son to die on a cross, what makes you think that He won’t ask the same thing of you? As a first-time pregnant mom, I realized that deep down in the core of my being, I wanted most for my child to love God and follow His leading.
I shared this at a women’s small group and one of the women told me to just wait until I had the child. Things would be different when the baby came out. I thought to myself, “Maybe I am being a little naive.” It’s been over 3 years since I have become a mother. Recently, I was praying for my children. We have had some incredible financial setbacks in the last 3 years. Our house was robbed twice, our car got broken into, our car broke down three times on the freeway, we got three speeding tickets which also escalated our auto insurance, we were audited, we had to pay for termite fumigation, and we moved three times. (Yes, some of these things could have been avoided and our audit happened on the year that we were just learning how to do clergy taxes, so some was our fault, but the timing was really rough on us). As I was praying for my kids, the financial struggles weighed heavily on me. I began to pray that they would be be wealthy and either not marry a pastor or become one (yes, yes, shame on me). And then I realized something. I realized that there were certain lessons in the last 3 years that I would have NEVER learned unless I had gone through all of this. I realized that my trust in God had only been strengthened through all this. I began to look deep down and think again of what I TRULY wanted for my kids. I was scared that my priorities had changed. At the end of my prayer I was thankful to God that what I wanted for my children was still that they would follow God wherever He would lead them.
Interestingly, my first child struggles with anxiety and sharing and many of the good qualities I was specifically praying for, but that’s okay. My child is God’s child. I will do my best as the caretaker of His child, but she is going to go through things that will shape her to be the best daughter of God that she can be. And I will need to have the wisdom to know which struggles I am supposed to pull her out of as a parent and which ones to let her go through so she can be ready for the greater trials that will come in the future that I have no power over.
While we sacrifice many luxuries in life for our children, may we never forget the ultimate sacrifice that will give us eternal luxury in our future.