I've stayed away from my blog because I've been overwhelmed. Not with the normal overwhelming things like work, or illness, or business, etc. I've been internally overwhelmed. Those of you who are mothers, especially mothers of adult children, know the feeling. Sometimes your heart is so heavy for your children that you simply can't find the strength to lift yourself up and pursue your own interests. That's where I've been.
All my kids have their individual sets of circumstances, trials, hardships, decisions, challenges... And this mother's heart feels their pain, knows their frustrations, understands their longings, hopes for them, fears for them, wants for them, rejoices with them, cries for them...and prays for them.
A young mother of three girls once said to me, "I guess parenting is not as intense for you now that your girls are older." Boy, did she have it all wrong! Broken toys and boo boos were easy fixes. Lost jobs, financial stress, career choices, time investments, influence of friends, life lessons, disappointments--now you're talkin' intense parenting!
As I've poured my heart out to the Lord on behalf of my children, a voice in the back of my mind (or in my heart) keeps telling me I need the faith of Hanna.
You remember Hanna. She was the one that went with her husband every year to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord. And every year her husband's other wife would tease her, make fun of her, and talk trash to her because she didn't have children. Finally Hanna had all she could take--"And she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she made a vow..." (See I Samuel 1: 10&11) Remember? She asked God to give her a son. She prayed so hard that Eli, the priest, thought that she had had one too many sips of the hard grape juice?
Oh no! I know what you're thinking! Don't worry! I may need the faith of Hanna, but God has blessed me with lots of common sense. This old gal knows that she's past her prime and I'm not crazy enough to ask God for more kids. (Grandkids? Yes! Kids, no!) You'd KNOW I had one too many at that point!
The faith of Hanna that I need is found in I Samuel 1:19-2:11--the keeping of the vow.
When I was a little kid I was taught the story of Hanna in Sunday school. Secretly I thought she was a pretty lousy mother. What kind of a mother could just take her kid to church, drop him off, and leave him there. Didn't she love him? How terrible! I remember one teacher I had trying to reassure me that it was okay because Hanna could go visit Samuel every year when she went up for her annual worship service. Humph! I still didn't like the woman!
But now, I respect her. She knew she was simply a vessel belonging to God, put here on this earth for God's purpose and glory. She knew, even before Samuel was in her womb, that he belonged to God too. She simply wanted the privilege of bringing Samuel into the world so that she could give him back to God--a gift of love and gratitude.
Hanna knew that God was a good parent--the best parent--a better parent than she. Her faith was in a God who could care for, provide for, guide, and teach her little boy like no other parent could. Not even...well, you know.
I think of Hanna now and how she might have wished she had not made that vow to God. I'm sure she cried long and hard every time she left the temple, and her baby boy. Did she hug him until he couldn't breath? Did she hold on to his hand until both their arms were stretched out tight as she walked away? Did she wish for the days when he was a tiny baby and she could cuddle him and hold on to him? And when she was back home, was her heart so heavy with thoughts of her son that she could hardly pull herself up to pursue her own interests? Maybe so.
Yet her faith in a God of all hope and possibilities caused her to make a vow, and that same faith enabled her to keep that vow. She gave her son back to the Lord for His service. I need the faith of Hanna.
The most intense part of parenting? Letting go.