It was by all accounts an idyllic day.
The sky arching over the ocean was clear cerulean blue after a week of heavy clouds and drenching afternoon downpours. Low tide provided a wide expanse of sand with warm pools edging the sandbars which stalled the tumbling shore breaks.
My two high school boys, backs turned to the sun, had fallen asleep on their towels after a morning deep-sea fishing and I sat in the shade of a large umbrella, alternately keeping tabs on the younger two in the water and the book downloaded to my phone.
Glancing up, I watched my youngest son carry a surf board up from the water. His dad’s surfboard. How many days had I watched his dad walking up this same beach, carrying that same board after a long surf session?
I lingered over this long-legged boy coming up the beach. He’ll be 13 next month. A coming of age without his dad.
Familiar regret colored my thoughts. His dad should have been here. He should have been here to teach him how to surf, to give pointers on throwing the perfect cast net, to help him move from boy to man.
This is not the good life I wanted for you, my heart grieved.
And even as those words ached across my soul, I realized this too was something I needed to surrender.
I needed to let go of the life I wanted for my children and the life I’d planned for them.
Surrendering our children to God includes surrendering our children’s entitled life.
It means trusting God not only with their safety, their decisions, their future but also with the kind of life I think they should have.
The twists and tumult of life can leave us moms with regret:
Regret that we didn’t stay home with our kids.
Regret that we couldn’t afford the piano lessons or the national park vacation or the better school.
Regret that cancer stole so much time.
Regret that a move uprooted them from friends.
Regret that depression kept us from our mothering best.
Regret that another sibling required so much more of us.
At some point, we all have to surrender to God not only our children, but the life we want for our children.
“I’ll take a happy marriage, seven healthy kids and a rambling home on five acres, please.” We put in our order and try our best to arrange life as perfectly as that newborn nursery.
Where we haven’t surrendered is always the place we’ve set up on idol and boy can moms set up a roomful of polished idols “in the best interest” of our children. God’s call for me to surrender everything brings me face first with my idols – idols of comfort, of entitlement and life without suffering.
Yes, I want the best for my children, but so often that best is simply veneered over a shiny idol of the life I think my kids are entitled to.
Surrendering the good life that we’d planned for our kids means trusting God with the life He’s given.
Maybe you think God has given you a stone. But if we would pick it up and see it for what it is, we would see that He has actually given bread. God cannot give stones.
Surrendering our children’s entitled life doesn’t mean giving up on a good life for our kids. It means allowing God to define what their good will be.
It is God’s mercy that He doesn’t leave us to our idyllic life.
It is God’s mercy that He doesn’t leave us to our idol-making life.
When I surrender the life I want for my children, I let go of my ideals, my agenda, my plans and how we were going to get there. Instead, I trust that God’s plans are not just better, but BEST. I acknowledge that He’s carved the plans for my children with His immeasurable love. And that what looks so imperfect to me, is held in the perfection of God.