I’m not sure how many of you reading this have been parents, but I’m pretty sure that most of us have been children. And none of us remember everything our parents did to care for us. Having raised five children, Melanie and I can empathize with most young parents. We know what it’s like to be sleep deprived, exhausted and juggling all the demands of our own lives as well as our children’s.
But as little children, we can’t fully appreciate what our parents do to support us. That’s especially true when a child is tired or sleeping. Parents never count the number of times they change the diapers of a sleepy child, but each time is precious in the mind of the parent. We realize how tender and vulnerable our children are, and we care for them even though they will never know what sacrifices we are making for their benefit.
When they aren’t sleeping, our children can sometimes remind us how big a job we have as parents. When Elijah was only a few years old he wanted to stay out fishing with me. A familiar sound and his sudden expression of horror let me know that I should have taken him to the bathroom and I would now be in for a very unpleasant cleanup. As he sat on the potty and I stood at the sink cleaning his clothes, he turned and said to me, “Do you sink you can han-doe it?” Confused, I asked, “What, buddy?” He tried to clarify for me: “Dis big poopy. Do you sink you can han-doe it?“
When Elijah turned fifteen, I experienced some things as a father that I didn’t think I could handle. His traumatic brain injury from severe concussions left him angry and depressed. He took out his anger mostly on me, telling me almost daily how he hated me. I took a job near our home so I could frequently check on him to ensure that he hadn’t harmed himself. My friends encouraged me to simply love him, as our Father in Heaven loves us unconditionally. Being a parent was turning out to be a lot harder than we had ever imagined.
During his last months with us Elijah became very expressive of his love for God and for his mom and me. I can still hear his voice as I walk past my office, simply telling me that he loves me. He frequently told Melanie how much he appreciated and loved her. He finally understood the role of God in carrying him through the tough times of his life: “Give the glory in everything you do to God… always. No matter what the situation, no matter what position your life is in, if you are sad and feel God has let you down, then you are misunderstanding the big picture.” (Elijah 2014)
This past week was the six month anniversary of Elijah’s passing. He reached his heavenly destination as most parents wish for their children. Just too soon, frankly. As his father, there is nothing else I can do for him. But more than ever, Melanie and I have realized that we ourselves are still children in desperate need of our Father’s care. And no matter how sad we are, no matter how many losses we grieve over, and no matter how lost we might feel on this journey, we have a greater appreciation for the One who carries us through. Even when we are desperately tired. Even while we are sleeping.
“There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” (Deuteronomy 1:31).
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Great writing. I’m sitting in the bathroom watching Lily play in the tub. She could play for hours. To think that just two yrs ago she had never taken a bath. Its just so hard to believe how far she has come since coming home. Who would have ever thought this little girl had no love before coming home. But its sure something she knows about now. Being scared of people to hugging her day care friends every day. So proud of this little girl.
You are a wonderful mom. Lily is so blessed that you entered her life. Perhaps one day she will realize what you sacrificed to bring her such love and happiness!
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