My “Mommy” heart is experiencing many emotions that are seemingly never-ending. I am mourning the loss of my “little” boy.
As we rapidly approach graduation and his eighteenth birthday, I feel more sad and lonely than joyful and exuberant as I think I should be upon reaching such milestones. Sad because I am remembering so vividly the “firsts” we shared together. The moment I first learned he would soon be part of my life and how he changed me forever. I was his age myself when the Lord altered my path forever through his birth. At an early age, my coping mechanism was anorexia and by the time I entered my senior year of high school, I was pretty sick. I was not in the best relationship for me at the time and by mid- year I was hospitalized. I was admitted at eighty seven pounds. Upon my release, I went back to my habits…and my relationship. Summer came and I had a terrible one vehicle accident where by all likelihood, I should have been terribly injured. My car was completely totaled, mangled on the top and all four sides. Witness accounts read that I had flipped end over end after losing control at a high rate of speed. I had not a scratch, nor a bruise. Who knows what really happened that day in the rain but looking back I do know the Lord was clearly setting His divine plan into motion.
Later, in the Fall I was involved in a terrifying domestic dispute and what happened in the weeks following led me back home, completely devastated…and pregnant. Though not how I had necessarily planned things after graduation, I embraced the next nine months and with much support was able to get healthy, mind, body and soul for the very first time. I was so young and naïve that my very first prayer was for a beautiful baby; somehow it never really occurred to me to ask for a healthy baby. Little did I know at the time, but my thoughts, feelings and actions would be forever altered. Once again, God used a tiny baby to save me, just as He had done before long, long ago…only this time it was my own. I was about to meet my greatest teacher. And our first lesson was to be the fruit of the spirit.
In his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23) Paul tells us that we will not inherit the Kingdom of God without first living in the fullness of the “fruit of the Holy Spirit”. This much referenced scripture in the Bible sums up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life. These attributes are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Upon the birth of my tiny, perfect baby and in the years to follow I experienced these fruits for the first time on a deep, life altering level. This tiny one who could not yet speak taught me a true, enduring, devotional type of love. As he grew, he taught me an innocent joy, for everyone should see life through the eyes of a curious child. I found a deep rooted peace that I had finally been accepted, for he loved me ever so faithfully. He taught me patience, because a mommy knows sleepless nights, ear aches and colic are not easy. Gentleness, goodness and kindness began to take root and grow in my heart as I learned life lessons every day through him. These were lessons I had to experience in order to mature in my faith; I made so many mistakes along the way but he forgave me every time without question or condemnation. I was never perfect as a mother but I was devoted to the art of trying and my son loved me unconditionally.
I began to feel miraculously similar to another teenage mother, Mary, holding a tiny miracle who was also to be her Savior. I have always loved to envision a Baby Jesus; feedings, diaper changes, and perhaps an illness somewhere along the way; a baby so perfect to His young mother that the thought of any harm ever coming to him was unbearable. If you take a moment to read back over this paragraph, as if you were reading the love story of Jesus written by His mother Mary, perhaps you can feel how strongly I believe our children teach us the unconditional love of our Savior. As a mother, we experience sacrifice, endurance, humility, grace, mercy, forgiveness, joy, sadness, enduring love, patience, and finally obedience to God. And we cannot raise our children, especially our boys, without experiencing some measure of great worry and sorrow.
Tonight, as I hugged my teenaged son goodbye for his first solo beach trip with friends for Spring Break, I was overcome with grief. Have we shown him enough light of the Father’s love so that he can shine his own path? I know my son well; I am so proud of him I can hardly stand it. He has become a handsome, confident and focused young man. The Lord did indeed grant my very first prayer and he is undeniably beautiful; breathtaking even, if I may. And while he has caused me great worry and sorrow at times along the way; broken bones, injuries involving great amounts of blood, fearlessness and foolishness, he has been a far greater pleasure. I am honored to be his mother. He has caused me to seek the face of God and answers to His truths in ways I would not have otherwise done had I not had children. I understand my son because God reveals my flaws to me through him. As he matures in this life, I mature in my faith. And I feel confident that cycle will continue as one day he marries and has children of his own. He will mature in his own faith through his children. Therefore, I take that measure of comfort and hold it dear to my heart. I know he will be a man of God who does great things for the Kingdom.
Watching him tonight pack his things so carefully and neatly, asking my advice along the way, I was taken back almost eighteen years ago when I was only eighteen. I marveled at how far we have come together. I remember holding him for the very first time, just the two of us before my family was allowed back in the room. I looked at him for so long, memorizing every delicate feature, caressing his tiny little round cheeks. He was alert and awake as if he understood what I was about to say to him. “What in the world am I gonna do with you, little one?”
Tonight as he kissed me so sweetly and hugged me just a little tighter, then walked confidently out the door, I hit my knees and asked “Lord, what in the world would I ever do without him?”
Psalm 127:3 reads “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him”.
My greatest teacher grew from a tiny baby into a fine young man seemingly overnight; and as I said goodbye, I realized just how much I have yet to learn.