It seems children never reach an age where we can stop worrying about them. We go from midnight fears as babies sleep, to cuts and bruises as kids play, to first boyfriend/girlfriend woes, to… well, you get the picture. My stepchildren are both in their twenties and there isn’t a day I don’t have some anxiety over the particulars of their lives, their safety, their future. We strive to be the best parents we can be, but in the small hours of the morning we wonder if we’re ever really up to the task.
Fortunately, scripture has some guidance on that.
In fact, while scripture places a lot of weight on a mother’s influence, there’s nothing I could find that said we’re expected to be perfect. Thank goodness!
In Proverbs 22:6, we read, “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.”
Every mother knows this: if you establish good habits, boundaries, and a faith foundation early on, it will become an intrinsic part of your child’s being. Like their mothers, our children are imperfect, and there may be some side trips along the way of their journey; but if you’ve done the best you can, it’s what God asks of you. As a mom, you know how much your children rely on you in every aspect of your family’s life. That knowledge can sometimes feel overwhelming, since there’s only so much you can do even when you’re giving your best effort to motherhood.
And then we come to John 19:25-27: “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home."
Think for a moment about this terrible scene. Imagine what a mother might feel to watch her son dying! His disciples had abandoned him. The crowds dissipated; there was nothing more to see here. But at the disgraceful, criminal’s execution of Jesus, there stood his mother Mary, true to the end. She was proud of her son. Nothing could keep her away. Jesus returned her love by providing for her care.
You know what it’s like to see your child in pain or fear. You know that you don’t run away from them when that happens—if anything, it draws you closer, doesn’t it? This is your story, too, the story of a mother and child so deeply connected that nothing can separate them.
Mary has been there. She isn’t just our Mother; she is our inspiration. When you feel no one understands what you’re going through, Mary does. She’s been there, too. She probably fretted about Jesus’ well-being every day of his life. So turn to her. Ask her for help.
In Galatians 6:9, St. Paul is reassuring: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.”
That’s a big one. How many times have you been tempted to give up? How many times has your child been maddeningly difficult, or obnoxious, or just plain annoying? Multiply those by one hundred, and you have a typical mom’s day, don’t you?
Keep going. Ask the Holy Spirit to pour the gift of perseverance into your life. If you don’t give up, then there is always a relationship there. If your child becomes ill, or is estranged from you, or lost, the message is the same: don’t give up. In due time you will reap your harvest. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep mopping up the spilled milk, keep making sure they’re dressed for the weather, keep kissing them good-night. Don’t give up.
Finally, perhaps the most powerful scripture verse for mothers is Isaiah 41:13, and it’s one that’s powerful for everyone, in any situation: “For I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”
Do not fear, I will help you. You’re not in this alone. An alternate translation of the Isaiah passage reads, “Don’t panic. I’ve picked you (…) I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady.” (The Message) No matter how you translate it: the message is clear. You are not in this alone.
Turning to God with all your anxiety about your kids is the single best thing you can do for them, because there’s no limit to what God can do for them through you. You never have to worry about keeping up with too many responsibilities when you make prayer a high priority. When you rely on God through prayer, his strength will flow through your life into your children’s lives.
God is in control. When you pray, you release him to do what only he can do in your child's life. And when you pray, God can mold your parenting style so you can do what he’s called you to do in raising your child.
Lord, I release my children to your care and protection; may your will for them be done, not mine. I know I can’t go everywhere my child goes, but I know you do. Please protect them. Give me wisdom for how to parent well. Give me peace in accepting your goodness toward my children and your love for my family.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? I'd love it if you shared it below.
Jeannette de Beauvoir