So often we wish we could save our children from the long, hard road. We wish we could fast-forward them into the green pastures and the still waters. But even as we reflect on our own pasts, we see our own “though I walk through the valley of death” stages as precious and holy. We look back at these times seeing clearer than ever that our God was with us, that He was nearer to us in those moments than we could truly ever grasp ourselves. We have tasted the reality that often He saves us through the fire, and not from it, and we must have faith that He will do this for our children as well. As we walk beside our children, we find ourselves walking through their fire, a fire that becomes our very own. And maybe, once again, through the very fire of our children, we find ourselves being saved as well.
My first diet experiment was with Harley Pasternak. I lived by his book “The Five-Factor Diet.” His food list was a huge first step for me, opening up food options I had stayed away from for years. I remember baking a certain orange biscotti recipe of his and bringing it over to my mom’s house (Jeff was still deployed at that point). This was huge for a couple of reasons. I NEVER wanted to draw attention to what I was eating, but, in this instance, I had brought food over, and, on top of that, I was asking that she would eat it with me.
My mom and I ate it…together. The fact that she ate it with me will stay with me forever. She smiled as she ate the hardened, articially sweetened, articicaly flavored slice of dough that someone had the nerve of calling “biscotti.” If my mom had even hinted at any sadness which stemmed from the pathetic level of this “biscotti mile stone,” I would have withered and drawn back into my shell of shame. But she chose to love me where I was at. She participated and celebrated with me where I was at. Looking back, I truly saw this “first meal” as almost sacred to me. That “meal” has topped any of the most elaborate celebratory feasts that I have ever eaten. That biscotti, before which all other biscotti shudder and hide their faces in shame was one of the most memorable meals I have and will ever eat.
Let us not, in the agony of pining and wishing our children were enjoying a better feast, miss the opportunity to eat the biscotti with them. That “biscotti moment” brings to mind the verse “She has done a beautiful thing” Mark 14:6. My mom has never appeared so beautiful to me than in that moment. Who even really cared about the consistency and flavor of that first bite she took? She was Jesus to me in that moment, turning water into wine.
We must remind ourselves that God’s nearness or far-ness is not determined by any spectrum that our earthly minds can devise. This is a truth that we must hold onto and unto which we must hope for our children’s sake. We must not let what our eyes see blind us to what only the eyes of faith can tell us. We are called to rejoice with them alongside their journey, wherever they are at, celebrating their seemingly small victories, helping them up when they fall, and cheering them on as they continue to take another step. And as the anxieties for our children begin to swell and rise within us, let these serve us only in that they are yet another opportunity to make our God look great, casting our cares upon the thick, broad, strong, shoulders of His Son, Jesus.