On the Side: March 2022
by Laura McLean Thomas
My middle daughter has a problem with trust. She often asks me, “Mom, are you going to take me to dance today?” or “Mom, are you going to pick me up from school?” She frets over small things like have I signed a permission slip yet, or have I made that orthodontist appointment yet. It is frustrating as a parent to feel like my precious girl doesn’t know that I am taking care of her, that I am here for her.
Some days it really gets to me. Does she honestly think I’m going to forget about her? Seriously?! I have kept her alive and well for the last 13 years. Does she really think I am just going to blow her off? Like I would forget my own child? I wonder how I have failed her that she doesn’t trust me. Why is she so insecure?
And then it smacks me in the head: I am so much like my daughter. I plead with God, “Be with me,” when He is already standing right there. I worry about the future. I wonder how I am going to make it through hard situations. I worry about money; I worry about safety. Why am I so insecure? Because I, like my daughter, don’t trust well. Will God forget about me? Is He going to take care of me?
Years ago, when my oldest daughter was only four years old, she was throwing a fit because she couldn’t get the TV to turn on. I was switching loads of laundry downstairs and heard her cries. As I plodded my pregnant body up the stairs, carrying a basket full of laundry, she came to the top of the stairs in near hysterics, “Mommy, it won’t turn on! I can’t get it to work! Mommy you have to do something!!” “Honey,” I replied calmly, “you know I can help you, so why are you throwing such a fit? Don’t you believe I can fix it?”
It was another “smack me in the head” moment. I could almost hear God chuckle.
Oh, how many times have I done the same thing? I run to God in prayer to help in a situation that was way over my head, and yet, I was frantic because of my lack of faith. I doubted His desire and/or ability to help. I imagine God saying to me calmly, “Honey, you know I can help you. Why are you throwing such a fit? Don’t you believe I can fix it?”
Growing up, I didn’t really think much about the fact that God calls Himself our Father: “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18, ESV). I took it for granted, until I became a parent myself. When that first little bundle was placed in my arms, something big shifted, and suddenly, I would move heaven and earth to protect, love and provide for her; I would give my life for her. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that the one who actually can move heaven and earth feels that way about me. In fact, He did give His life for me.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:15-16a, NIV emphasis mine).
Acknowledging my trust issue is only half of the battle. How do I change my doubtful and worry-filled prayers? I think I will begin by saying, “Lord, thank you for always being with me. Please help me see you today,” in place of, “Please be with me.” Instead of questioning how He is going to provide for my needs, I will thank Him for all He has provided and ask for eyes that see His blessings. When I worry about the future, I will remember how He got me through the “vast wilderness” of my husband’s 11 years of training and our moves all over the country. And (last, but not least), I will pin my hope on His promise that He is still making a way for me.
“The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything” (Deuteronomy 2:7, NIV).
“This is what the LORD says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters…See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’” (Isaiah 43:16,19, NIV).
And finally, I am going to hug my kids and let them know (as many times as it takes) that I am here for them. But I won’t stop there. I will point them to the God and Savior who can always be trusted, because I can’t promise that. Unlike our heavenly Father, I am not a perfect parent, and I did forget to make that orthodontist appointment.
Laura lives in the “wilderness” of Palm Desert, California with her three kids and pulmonologist/intensivist husband. Their little bundles are now in college, eighth and fifth grades. They have helped her learn so much as they have grown!