My Greatest Burden is My Greatest Blessing
Late on a Friday evening, my oldest daughter and I were on our way home from a bridal shower for a young friend. It had rained most of the evening of the shower, but had stopped before we left for our almost two-hour drive home. The hostess had given us the leftovers of the fig newtons we had brought to the shower, which turned out to be most of the package. After all, who wants fig newtons when they can have nanaimo bars, chocolate squares and home-baked cookies? So we drove along in the dark, not even trying to resist the temptation to munch on fig newtons. We did manage to save a generous share for the rest of the family at home.
We were driving the Cavalier, which means Irene was in the driver’s seat and I was on the passenger’s side in the back seat. We haven’t replaced the front passenger door since Ian hit a deer one dark morning last February. Nor has he been successful in getting it to open and close. So, unless I wanted to climb under the steering wheel and over the centre to the passenger’s side, I was stuck in the back seat. Normally when I sit back there someone else is sitting in the front seat, and I can just sit there quietly with my thoughts. But this time I was a captive audience to Irene’s rambling thoughts… of which there were many that night.
Since we were in talking mode, I decided to put a question to her… one which has puzzled me for some years now. In a day when we see so many godly families struggling with their teens wanting to dabble and experiment in the things of the world, and try their wings too soon… why is it that so far my children haven’t? It was a major thing for Irene to get her ears pierced at age 21, and for her and her sisters (17 & 15) to get their hair cut to just below their shoulders. I will never kid myself into thinking it’s because I am doing things right and others are not. I know I am not being diligent in teaching them, and yet they are all gravitating toward the things of the Lord. So why is this?
Is it because we are long-time members of an excellent church where the meat of the scriptures is taught thoroughly week by week? Is it because we have regular daily family worship? Is it because my children are often reminded that their chief goal in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? Is it because they are homeschooled? Is it because I pray for my children? Or am I just lucky?
The answer is “No!” to all of the above. There is no such thing as luck. And I know too many wonderful, godly people whose children have grown up with all of the advantages listed above, yet some of the children have made some devastating decisions during their teens and young adulthood.
I can only attribute it to the Lord’s faithfulness and mercy in spite of my many failings. But since I know God uses means to bring about His ends, it still puzzles me. What means has He used in our family, where we are frail and inconsistent at best, in our efforts to teach our children?
So I put it to Irene, as one of my children, to see what she came up with. Her answer surprised me.
“I think it’s because we have never had the money to buy things and do things, and so we have done things together… things that don’t cost any money. No one has ever expected to have brand new clothes until they can afford to buy them for themselves… or toys or outings or movies or special foods. And even though it’s only in the past year and a half that we have lived in the country, we were always kept somewhat isolated from the world.”
I still don’t get it. I asked her if she has ever read “Not My Will,” by Francena Arnold. The main character was kept isolated, yet she was determined to be integrated into her peer group, and resorted to a life of deception in order to get what she wanted. Why have my children not done that?? But Irene knows whereof she speaks. In some ways she knows her sisters and brothers better than I do because she is one of them and they confide in her as such.
“So are you trying to tell me that the thing that has been my biggest burden and has given me so much grief all these years, has been the very means the Lord has used to hold our family together and keep you children on the right track?”
Wow. That blows me away. I used to fear that my children would pick up on my money worries, and resent the fact they couldn’t have what other kids have, and grow up determined not to have large families and focus instead on making money. But no… instead they have gone the opposite way and focused on the real things in life, and not fretted about what they can’t have. They value love and appreciation expressed in ways other than those that cost money. They value people over things, and family over their peers. The friends they have chosen are those with similar values and beliefs, who encourage them on in the ways of the Lord.
It’s as I said to them when they were little, “Poor us! We are so poor we have to resort to eating delicious homemade bread instead of buying the junk at the store… and we have to let the cat have adorable kittens every five months because we are too poor to have her spayed!” But I have never been able to accept our financial plight and fully trust the Lord for His provision. I have always worried about it. Even now after hearing what Irene had to say, I worry about it. But my eyes have been opened, I can’t help looking at it in a different light. It gives fresh meaning to the old saying that when God closes a door He always opens a window… or that when he says no in answer to prayer, it’s always because He has something better in mind for you…
© Willena Flewelling