Paying attention has never been my strong suit. My children have notoriously called me by my first name to wake me out of my daydreaming and deep thoughts. Recently, we were watching a movie and, as the story intensified and guns began to blaze, my mind drifted to the monumental week I had experienced and how we had arrived at this point.
Nearly eighteen years ago, after three daughters and a pregnancy that nearly cost me my life, I gave birth to my first son, John. Wasn’t that just last week? Oh, how time flies. My thoughts flooded with memories of this chubby little boy with the sweetest disposition, always wanting to give me gift, whether it be clump of dirt from the yard or a rare find of a small dead animal. He has always thought of others.
John recently signed up for the Army. Yes, my firstborn son is headed off to basic after graduation. The decision-making process that led up to this point was not surprising. His grandfather and my husband had both served in the 101st Airborne. He wanted to continue the tradition of service and sacrifice.
That’s when it hit me. During this action-packed movie, I had an epiphany. As a mother, I had strong desires—hopes—for each child. I did not desire to become the helicopter mom or the mother who pushed her agenda onto her children. No, I wanted them to grow and develop their natural talents, gifts, and desires. But here’s the interesting part and what woke me to another level of the graciousness of God: each child, in turn, has chosen paths that I, as a teenager and young adult, had desired but never had the opportunity to pursue.
As a young adult, I wanted to join the military with a lofty goal of becoming the first female fighter pilot. My hopes were crushed when my mother slapped me for even speaking of such things. Being a girl raised in fundamental Christianity, my dreams were a BIG no-no. Yet, today, my son has the hope and desire to enter into the beautiful life of order and rank. Go Army!
As for my daughters, my oldest is married with a third child on the way. I had always aspired to have a good family life where my husband and I were on the same page spiritually, connecting on deep levels with the same goals for our children. I didn’t get to experience that when my children were young; that would come later with a second husband. However, my Ginny has a remarkable marriage and family. I couldn’t ask for more.
On to daughter number two: Abby is often referred to as my mini-me. Organized and driven, she is pursuing a career where she, in a relatively short amount of time, is climbing to the top of her game. She frequently checks in with me on major business decisions and the path she is taking next. When I was young, I desired to own and build a business, but I was taught that women were only allowed to submit to men and open companies in their husband’s names.
My third daughter is currently in her second year of college. When I was nearing my eighteenth year, I applied and was accepted with full scholarships to a college. However, I wasn’t allowed to attend because of the rigid beliefs my mother held that women should not be allowed to attend college. Their only job in life was marriage and birthing dozens of kids. Recently engaged, Anne has the opportunity to pursue her psychology degree, continue on to law school, or stay home and raise a family. The choice is hers.
My faith has been challenged many times in this life, and escaping the extreme fundamental conservative church has been liberating. But that night, during that action-packed movie, my confidence in Romans 8:28 was deepened: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”