Confession 4: I Don't Like Watching My Children Suffer
Good Enough is Good Enough Book Study: Chapter 4: I Don't Like Watching My Children Suffer
What is the greatest suffering you’ve experienced as a parent? Was God able to draw good from this suffering? If so, how and in what ways? I think the greatest initial suffering I felt was the desire to be a parent and then struggling through infertility. I longed for the children that I couldn’t conceive. I learned to trust that God’s plan for my life was better than my own plan. I learned to trust in His timing. I could have turned to In Vitro Fertilization, the doctor’s assured me that would work to conceive a child, but I knew that would only pull my soul away from the Lord. My children were destined to be my children and if I had gotten in the way of that I never would have met my children. I never would have grown in the painful but life-giving ways I had grown. They never would have been given the family they deserved. I would have missed all of this if I had played God. So I learned that He knows what’s best for my husband, our children and me.
Do you try to avoid suffering? Why? Who doesn’t? Yes, I try to avoid suffering, but I’ve come to learn that suffering comes with a chance to cling to the Lord. Who enjoys pain? Who asks for it or looks forward to it? But our faith teaches us that suffering brings salvation. The cross brings the resurrection. Through my recent battles with anxiety, I have grown so much closer to God and learned to depend and rely on Him even more than before the awful suffering caused by my anxiety. I thank God that He has given me the gift of anxiety so that I could learn to let go of my need for control. It has been so freeing to rely on His goodness and healing instead of solely on my own strengths and abilities.
When you experience your child’s suffering, how do you react? What are some healthy ways you could detach, yet still show love and compassion to the suffering child? I have really had to grow in this. My children are all adopted and I can’t tell you what happened to them or didn’t happen to them for the first few years of their lives. When my two oldest came home, especially my daughter, I promised myself that I would be there for her all the time. I would never do anything that caused her more sadness. I would make sure she always felt protected and provided for. So that lasted about 48 hours and then reality sunk in. Ultimately if I understand suffering can bring growth, especially with the Lord, then how can I desire to take away that growth in my children’s lives? I can encourage my children and listen to them in their suffering, but in the end I have to detach and allow them to experience the moments that will make their life stories. I wouldn’t be who I am today if someone had taken those moments from me, no matter how bad I wanted them to.
Do you believe suffering can be redemptive? How have you suffered as a parent? What can Mother Mary teach us? Redemptive suffering is where we can offer our suffering up for someone else. I have learned to offer up my suffering, struggles and hardship for those who are also going through trials. One of my family members struggles with chronic pain, and I can offer up my struggles for her. I pray that she can experience relief and I offer my suffering for her. I have learned to offer up suffering for the good of my children as well, for their vocations and for their future.
Mary can teach us about the suffering of a parent. She stood by as her son was beaten and hung on a cross. She couldn’t stop it, she couldn’t control it, she couldn’t switch places with him. She shows us that trusting in God’s plan can “pierce” our hearts but can bring about the ultimate salvation.
Romans 8:28 states, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Do you believe God is in charge and directing things according to his plan? Seeing how my family came together has been a great example to me of God being in control. I had to get married at an exact time, so that I could be ready to adopt when my children had gone through enough court processes and were searching for their forever family. I had to move to the city where my husband lived, causing me to leave my family and support system, so that I would be in the right county to find my children through adoption. He has orchestrated the whole process and reminded me time and time again as I tried to rush things, that He is outside of time and that He will bring me what He wills, when He wills it.
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