Cultivating a blossom amongst the thorns

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June 9, 2016 by Nicole

I am a first time mother, and I fell into this role later in life than many women do.  My daughter was born about six months before my 40th birthday.  Right now, she is a sweet and silly little toddler who loves to laugh, dance, and has a smile that lights up the room.

People are right to say that “It all goes by too fast.”  In the blink of an eye, she went from being a tiny newborn, dependent on me for absolutely everything to a independent toddler who is perpetually moving and getting into everything.

Right now, my role as her mother is fairly easy.  Make sure she eats, sleeps, has a clean diaper, and shower her with love and keep her as safe as possible.  I also know it’s going to get so much more difficult as she grows up, trying to learn who she is and where she fits in. I’ve lived enough life to know that the world is a big scary place sometimes, full of people who do bad things (Just read the headlines any given day of the week.).  I cannot protect and shield her from that reality forever.  For now, I can just be content to cherish her childish innocence.

I fully admit that of all the things that used to scare me about being a good parent, none of them come close to what has emerged as my biggest worry.  That nagging question always floating around in my head isn’t “How do I keep my kid off drugs?” or “How do I deal with the cell phone issue?” Rather, it’s “How do I teach my child to love God so she doesn’t ever walk away from Him?”

Maybe it is because I am a mother that I am so much more conscious of the problem of evil in the world.  We live in a culture saturated with news that is frightening and horrific. Blase’ attitudes towards sex, morality, and even something as fundamental as the dignity and sanctity of a human life blur the line between what is right and what is wrong.  We live in a culture that wants to live only to gratify itself, and at the same time, tries so hard to ignore the moral absolutes that have been hardwired into us as human beings.

What infuriates me the most are the people who actively work to disconnect others from God.  I have no stomach for those who call themselves Christians and spew hatred, fear, and bigotry because they are ignorant of God’s fundamental message of love, mercy, and forgiveness.  I am saddened for those who have walked away from God because of the damage they have done.  I am also disturbed by those who revel in their hatred of God, His Word, and His people, especially the new atheism that has made it its mission to divorce people from their creator.  How these people got this way, I will never know.  But I feel pity that they cannot see that they are children of God, just as I am, created in his image and destined for eternal life.

And it is through this mess that I worry I cannot guide my daughter.  My own relationship with God is not always easy.  I admit that I am prone to fear, anxiety, doubt, and every other human failing that can get in the way of my faith.  When my daughter was baptized last August, the monumental task and responsibility set before me–to bring her up as a member of God’s family and nurture her faith–did not escape me.  It is on my conscience daily.  I pray about it all the time.  How do I navigate her through the ugly “Christians” who do not stand for what Christ actually taught, while at the same time contending with the anger and arrogance of those who reject Him? How do I help her to fall in love with the God her father and I have come to know and honor? How do I prepare her for the times when she begins to grapple with and question what she believes? And most importantly, how do I equip her for the times when God pushes her or challenges her to walk the road that is hard?

If I have learned anything, it is that as daunting as it seems, it is possible.  I have seen other parents do it.  I remind myself of I John: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  I can only do the best I can with what I have been given, and remember that it’s not just me in this alone.

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