Ever learn something, quickly forget it, and need to be reminded again? During our daughter’s extensive surgery last November, God tapped into my medical momma’s fearful heart, comforting me with the revelation that I don’t have to be God of my children. It was a breakthrough parenting moment.
Little by little though, I again started mentally and emotionally picking that title back up. Now, I need again to let go and play only the role I’ve been tasked with. So, I am reposting this, which was published originally over at Ungrind Webzine to remind myself and hopefully you as well.
Courage, dear hearts.
Nil per os. A Latin phrase meaning “nothing by mouth.”
For six days, an NPO sign has been on my daughter’s hospital room door. The sign will stay up for two more days. She is recovering from colorectal surgery, and her fragile system requires it. Dextrose, sodium chloride, and potassium flow from an IV bag to a PICC line to nourish and hydrate her tiny, 21-pound body.
It seems cruel and unusual punishment for a little person and this “show love with food” momma. With pleading eyes, she asks, “Loller? Mom, loller?” Her fingers make a W against her chin signing, “Water?” I melt inside, divert my eyes from her confused expression, and distract with stickers.
God sometimes allows our tender spots to be punctured. My heart is most fragile for my kids, and as much as I want them to be off limits, they aren’t. When they are vulnerable, this momma bear stands at attention. Slowly though, spurred on by adoption and medical parenting, I’m learning to trust and release my grip.
As a new parent, I lived contentedly with the illusion that I could protect my kids. That it was me, myself, and I who met their needs. I planned their days, fed their bodies, and claimed full control of their little lives.
I let myself believe that I was their God.
Then, little by little, God pierced holes in my control bubble. First came surrenders to backyard scrapes and playground hurt feelings. Then to preschool classrooms and the deep end of the pool. I had to choose to release rather than hold tight.
The Lord kept on pressing into my control illusion, increasingly asking for wider surrender. Next, a mission trip put an ocean between mother and her babies. I labored over leaving, and planned every activity, outfit, and meal they’d have. To board the plane, more control was severed. And when I returned? They’d made their own plans, had a ball and created a new grandparent bond. I wasn’t so vital after all.
Then came hurts that couldn’t be treated by Tylenol, infections not cured by Amoxicillin. First was elbow surgery for one daughter, then three bladder surgeries and a neurosurgery for another. Walking away from my child lying limp under anesthesia in operating rooms filled with computer screens, instruments, and doctors in sterile scrubs, left me utterly helpless and fully surrendered.
I had to consider who I think God is to my kids.
I tell people I trust the Lord, proclaim His miracles in our lives, but do I actually trust Him with my kids? Believe He’s a more powerful force in their lives than I am? In my head, yes. But in my heart, I can’t honestly say yes just yet.
He pushes my control buttons, but doesn’t just leave me floundering. He asks me to yield authority of my kids, but He makes His presence known. Weakness is replaced by strength and unexplainable peace comes. My small faith grows. It’s roots spreading wide and deep into my motherhood.
Now again, here, I must surrender deeper still. I’m sitting with my NPO daughter listening for God’s voice. Truthfully, my heart cries out, questioning why this. My girl is sustained from an outside source, fully beyond her parents. She’s suffering, and I’m stripped of control. I offer only arms to comfort. I blow bubbles, give sponge baths, push the IV on slow strolls, and take vitals on baby dolls. There is no fixing. There is only being.
Though I’m rendered helpless, a sustaining source flows. She’s plugged into an IV bag steadily streaming strength. I see the lesson being whisper-shouted into my heart. There is a sustaining Source we can release our children to. One stronger than IVs and ourselves. We parents tend to spin our wheels, worry, hover anxiously, and scramble for plans, trying to be the God of our children. We underestimate His role.
I’m not savior to my kids. I’m limited, weak and just don’t have it in me.
I am put in my place this week. Reminded to unclench my fists. Reminded that her Father in Heaven carried her before we ever did. Reminded that when she was born a preemie with multiple birth defects on the other side of the sea, He was there. Reminded that He carried her through surgeries and hospital stays when we couldn’t. His grip is stronger than ours. His nearness deeper. His strength greater. And He’s always there. Just as near as the IV. Just as powerful. Enough, moment to moment.
Perhaps I can worry less, and let my role be band-aids, nail polish, chocolate chip cookies, prayers and hugs. Less fixing, and more being.
Jesus’ promise in John 6:35 means something new to me. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
And John 4:14, “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life”.
When I unclench my fingers, anxiety recedes, hope returns, and I can stop striving.
The uncomfortable truth is that my children will face challenges that render me helpless. But my trust has deeper roots now.
Day six nil per os and her heart still beats. She still smiles and sleeps. So, when the NPO sign is removed, and broth and noodles served, I want to hold onto the lesson.
I’m not a stronger momma now, I am a decidedly weaker one.