There are a lot of bad things happening all around us. Every time I scroll through a newsfeed, nine out of every ten headlines seem to be negative. People around me share their bad news and my heart aches for the pain and suffering going on. My kids carry heavy burdens from the social pressures at school. I was having a conversation with a group of friends recently, and you could sense the weight we were all carrying around, especially about parenting and the deep desire for our kids to be ok. How do I navigate all of this, let alone try to empower my kids to get through this?
I think of how much pressure I put on myself as it relates to my kids and how they are going to turn out. The phrase, “if it’s to be, then it’s up to me” seems to effectively summarize the heaviness I feel to try to control all the things to ensure they my kids will turn out to be successful humans someday. Can I possibly trust that God can and will really take care of my own needs, let alone my kids’ needs, who seem to need infinitely needier than me?
Jesus calls himself “The Good Shepherd” and mentions that his sheep know His voice. I’ve heard the phrase, “leaving the 99 to find the one lost one” so many times that it has almost lost its meaning. But what if I really believed that Jesus physically and spiritually pursues and relentlessly chases after me, after my kids, after each of us?
Think about what pursuing really looks like. If you’ve ever lost something of great value, you know the feeling. Think about a wallet or cell phone (or child if you’ve had that dreadful experience) not where you thought it was. You forget about everything else and your sole focus is on doing whatever you have to do to get that thing back. And aren’t we far more important to a God who actually created us, who knit us together in our mother’s womb and knows how many hairs are on our head?
I have this idea that when I stray or feel lost myself, that I need to be the one to completely turn back to God (who’s probably quite disappointed) and move myself back into his presence. What if that’s the lie, and the reality is that He was with me the whole time, chasing me, following me, pursuing me—but I just didn’t realize it? And my turning is really just shifting my awareness to tune into the love and grace that was already near me? How would that change my own fear and anxiety about raising my kids and trusting God in a world with so much pain, suffering and challenges?
The story of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorite stories. The son who left was lost in every sense of the word, but the Father never stopped looking for his son each and every day. When the son who was lost does return, the father runs to meet him while “he was still far off.” The lost son wasn’t home yet but some distance away. The father then reminds his son who he is and what is true identity is—what it’s always been—his beloved son. Finally, he puts the ring and robe on him and throws a party to celebrate, to remind the son who he’s always been, even though he lost sight of it.
I still don’t feel like the world is any less scary and that there aren’t legitimate things to be anxious about.There is so much suffering and challenges and brokenness and I certainly don’t want to minimize that. I know my kids are going to make mistakes and that they will feel pain and hurt.But I’m also a little more comforted when I’m reminded that the pressure is not on me to create the perfect environment for them to be successful or healthy or ok.I’m also reminded that there is a Good Shepherd relentlessly pursuing each of our already broken hearts and desperately working to heal and remind us all who HE us to be.