by Megan Johnson
Because sometimes we need reminders. Sometimes, we truly have no clue where we’re at and search the park map frantically wondering just how far we are from our hopeful destination; and sigh with relief, or with discouragement, or with annoyance, because we’re not where we thought we were; or not where we want to be. And yet, when we look at the guide posted on a trail, at a theme park, or on our phone’s GPS, it’s very clear where we are. Barring a prank or some technological disturbance, the map’s big star – or hovering blue dot – tells us exactly where we are. Black and white. The clearly labeled map points out for us how much farther we have to go; what the path looks like the rest of the way; and maybe, if we’re lucky, where the restroom is.
But parenting, oh parenting … We are clearly in a specific location with our kids – emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically … and yet, there we are, – a blue star on our theoretical map – pretending, hoping, desiring to be somewhere else, or even someone else, further along somehow; (many times in noble ways too!) But, in God’s wise and loving care, it’s this journey to the destination that binds us to Him in a way that simply being “there” does not.
We had the opportunity to go to Tucson, Arizona a few months ago. I was amazed at the landscape and vegetation that quickly changed – from hiking in Sabino Canyon, surrounded by enormous cacti standing grand and king-like, to the lush greens of the pine trees further up Mt. Lemmon – yet still in the same city. I was struck by the fact that the cacti stand tall and gloriously where they have been planted. The living conditions for the cacti are different from the living conditions of the pine, and yet they almost live side by side. If they had eyes, they would be able to look upon each other and see their differentness and uniqueness. I wonder if they would compare? If they would judge? If they would be jealous?
But no, they sink their roots deeply where they have been planted by the Creator, growing sturdily and steadily there, knowing that particular ground – the amount of sun, desert, and water – is exactly what they need for where they have been planted.
Comparison is futile for these plants. The surroundings and soil, at first glance, even appear to be the same as the landscape quickly begins to change, but they are not. The cactus, the pine, the oak, are all beautifully reflecting the majesty of their Creator, right where they are planted. Not comparing, or wanting what the other has; the sovereign Creator has made and given them specific gifts to display his glory in unique ways, and I doubt they balk or whine about it.
What a lesson for me.
Can I look on where others are “planted” and see God’s glory and image being reflected? Can I trust the soil and conditions in which He has me? And them? Can I trust that God has given me everything I need for parenting the kids He has chosen to give me? With my sin and theirs? Because the reality is: I am here. I am, by the grace of God, not where I was; and in the promise of God, not yet where I will be.
But right now, I am here.
As I accept this option, this reality, of being here, it means I embrace my limitations. I embrace my strengths, weaknesses, and desires. I embrace what I can’t do and what I’m not called to. I embrace what I can do and am called to. I embrace the kids God has given me – with their strengths, weaknesses, limits, and desires. As I settle in to where I am, without denying it, I settle into the purpose God has for me here and now. It is simultaneously humbling and freeing. Because the gospel truth holds true for my kids as well as me, we are free to be on the journey; together. The grace of God and the promise of God will not let us go because He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion (Phil. 1:6) and this journey binds us to Him in a way simply being “there” cannot.