There was a time in my young adult life where I had 3 car seats in the back of an old Isuzu Trooper, a gold beast which had neither air conditioning nor any creature comforts whatsoever. The children, all lined up ready to go, would eagerly await being spritzed on their tiny heads, windows rolled down as we headed to our destination and the sun blazed, kids unaffected and having a great ride. Mommy, on the other hand, cursed (or blessed, depending on the car) with curly hair, would have to bring a change of clothes because the window can’t be down when your hair is as wild as mine.
While we’re on the subject, later in my motherhood journey I drove a van, now complete with 4 children, that first lost its heat and then lost its air conditioning. For 18 months I drove that unfortunate automobile, whose other charming feature was the lack of driver’s side window function. It was fun to pull through any drive-thru and open my door, said me, never. At this point PTSD was in full effect triggered by unresolved car issues for a complicated variety of reasons. In the winter the kids wore their coats in the car and brought their favorite blankets. In the summer I packed bottled water and rolled down the passenger side window because it was the only working window.
Following those two memorable vehicles was a Subaru station wagon that was not able to idle or it would overheat. I had to turn it off at every stop light. It also didn’t have enough working seatbelts so not all of the kids could be in it (safely) at the same time. Let’s say bungee cords were used and praise God we never got pulled over. I wish I was kidding. And that’s just a random sample of the cars I’ve driven.
Paycheck to paycheck, every unplanned event unable to be reliably covered, living in scarcity for the simple reason that I was so busy surviving I wasn’t even thinking about thriving. I knew nothing about prosperity. And I’m not talking about Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel nonsense (yea, you heard me. He’s a fraud.) I’m talking about sound financial Biblical principles that enable us to live for God in such a productive way that we no longer have to be slave to the lender, and we can save for the future while giving to those in need, a life I knew I wanted but had no idea was within my grasp.
It would take me being introduced and reintroduced to these principles over the course of many years until my brain was able to absorb the truths in a way they could be put into practice, i.e. about a year ago. Along the way God used several examples to illustrate His point in retrospect:
One evening I was walking into the home I shared with Addison, 4, Ayden 2, and Avery 1, as the wind blew furiously. I needed to buy diapers for the boys and I had a $20 bill in my pocket to do just that the next morning. I always have a plan, as anyone who knows me well will tell you. That evening after bath time and stories, I set my clothes out for the next day and remembered I had the cash for the diapers in my pocket. I reached for it to no avail. As I searched every conceivable location, I began to panic. It was nowhere. I fell asleep defeated, knowing I would have to reach out to my mom for help, which of course she would gladly do but wow, did it ever hurt my pride to have to ask. Sins #1 & #2 that have held me captive in my own stupidity for years: Planning Without Praying and Pride, and maybe they’re synonymous but regardless, there you have it. Luckily grace would find me the next day as we made our way to the car, baby Avery on my hip as I happened to look down and saw the $20 bill in the grass. It must have fallen out while I was digging in my pocket for my house keys, but by the grace of God there it remained during the craziest wind storm for me to discover it and know that despite every imperfection and flaw I was still loved. I remember crying, humbled temporarily by the overwhelming love my father had for me.
These kinds of stories permeated my early life as a parent. The God who died for the sins of all spent so much time chasing down this unbelievably stubborn sheep to prove to her how loved she was. He chased me and I ran away, he chased me and I ran away…I felt so incredibly unlovable, and I was determined to prove my worth…a pursuit as useless as the directions on a shampoo bottle. Maybe if I were a less ferocious being, calmer, not as determined, prideful and pig-headed, perhaps then He could have reached me sooner. Maybe, but that’s just not the case, and for whatever reason He chased me down until he found me in the corner of my living room, February 16, 2019, crying after a night of vomiting from sheer grief. And then in my first ever moment of actual surrender he led me to the life I now live. I didn’t have to earn it or deserve it, I just had to be willing to accept it.
During this new time in my life I have learned truths I am now (finally) willing to obey and principles I wish I knew earlier but am grateful to be able to pass along to my children so that their lives are decidedly different. If I’m being honest, I don’t mind a bit if my kids experience discomfort financially or otherwise as long as it teaches them to appreciate what they have and work for what else they want, but I can’t unknow what I now know and there’s a whole new world out there that can guarantee a future free from a scarcity mentality, thriving instead of surviving, free from the constant worry…and THAT is what I want for them. That is what I will teach them and pray that they follow – not for themselves as much as to the glory of our Lord, who, in His infinite mercy, has plucked me out of self-reliant arrogance and into a wellspring of people who love me, and whom I also love. One in particular… Things happen, and God knows just how to make lemonade out of lemons to HIS glory every time. I’m so happy to be part of some Jesus Lemonade, complete with the perfect ice and the exact right amount of tartness.
So as I look back not so fondly on parts of my past, the one constant comfort I had during those tumultuous times is my children. Every precious moment, every weird game full of arbitrary little kid rules, every snacking phase and fashion craze, every nightmare (real AND imagined), every second spent with their tiny sick bodies curled in my lap, my lips pressed against foreheads to check for fever, every sporting event, every play, every camp…every everything…it was worth every second of all the heartache endured and instead of a tragedy, it gets to be part of a glorious transformation story that will forever be part of our collective and individual legacies.
I used to spend so much time wondering why I was allowed to endure the searing pain, the lack of clarity that would have led me out so much sooner, but now I understand, why not? If this is what it takes for me to be impactful for the Kingdom then so be it. I’m here for His glory, not the other way around. What a privilege to be able to see clearly as each of my own children and those that I now have the privilege to help care for enter into a phase of their lives where imparting these truths can spare them from regret. That alone is worth every tear. God has given us each a story, and the main character is always God. Why? Because 100/100 times he uses our weakness for His glory, to draw other imperfect people close to Him. This world is so temporary, so let’s put our faith and trust in the one who can see us through and lead us TO our destiny. I never fully understood this until recently, but everything we do here on earth affects eternity. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”- John 8:32. Indeed. Rest in that truth, my brothers and sisters. And in the meantime let’s lead others to the peace we live for, and let’s do it together. We can’t unknow the truth, so now we have to act on it. All of it.