Years ago, when I had a houseful of littles, toddlers and a baby, I found myself stretched past my limit. A co-worker of Dan’s had moved to town with his young wife and their 3-year-old little boy. His wife had just gone through a bilateral mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy and this young family had moved to be near her parents and sisters.
No sooner did they move back to town when tests showed the cancer had returned. I can still remember pushing her little one on our swing with a backyard full of kids as she came back from that initial doctors’ appointment.
She fought hard. Went through every treatment available, but just after her son’s 4th birthday, she passed away. Her husband, just 30 years old, now found himself a grieving, single father.
My days were already filled top to bottom with feeding, caring for, teaching, and entertaining my crew of five kids and so we decided it would be easy to fold one more in. Every weekday morning that summer, dad would knock early on my door and bring over his still sleepy, tow-headed little boy to join our family for the day.
This next part is hard to tell. Because I had some ugly that needed chiseling out of my heart.
It’s funny how one extra little person can change the tempo in the home. Maybe I felt like I was always “on” and couldn’t relax? Maybe with 1-, 3-, 4-, 5- and 8-year-old boys, plus a 6-year-old little lady, there was just a whole lotta play and food and cleaning to keep track of?
This little one was precious. It was not him. It was me. And the irony that I spent what turned out to be four summers taking care of this little boy whose mom had passed away is not lost on me now.
But at the time, I was stretched to my limit. And one more just seemed like too much.
One afternoon, after cleaning up lunch, getting the baby down for a nap and everyone else tucked onto a bed or couch or quiet spot for our rest time/reading time, I collapsed across my bed with hot tears, spilling out my churning heart to God.
I remember begging this: Change me or change my circumstances.
I’m sure you can guess how the Lord answered. He didn’t change my circumstances. Instead, as the days turned into weeks of that first summer, I fell in love with that little boy. God did for me what I could not do in my flesh.
That sweet boy folded right into our family. I remember cuddling with him in the mornings just after he was dropped off and spending hours lounged in the warm baby pool because he was terrified of the big pool. I cannot tell you how many times we went into Publix or Walmart or Target that summer with two toddlers cross-legged in the grocery buggy, the baby sitting up front and three older kids walking right next to the cart after firm instructions to stay close.
For four summers, he was one of us. Backyard Bible clubs, afternoons in the sprinkler, popsicles in the fort, bike riding down the hill, vacation Bible school, trips to Wild Adventures, the zoo, the museum, the library — all shared with this precious little boy.
As a young mom, I got a lesson that summer that I’ve held onto: God is more interested in changing me than changing my circumstance.
My flesh may want to lie down and throw a pity party. I can so easily start listing all the reasons why it’s too hard and why things should change. But if I’m willing, God will use the hard to chisel the ugly right out of my heart.
And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Util it be according unto mine?
But, no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.
I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire—
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging—
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.
― Amy Carmichael
Today, Lord, align my heart to Yours. Let circumstances accomplish their design and allay my heart until it is one with Your perfect will.
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