What children can teach us about…us.
I remember the nearly debilitating ache in my heart as I drove away. Away from the house I had called home for nearly a decade. Away from the place where I had brought each of my babies home. Away from the man I had been married to for nearly 10 years.
The whole thing was excruciating…but the most painful thing of all was my oldest son, 7 at the time, sobbing in the backseat. “I hate you, Mom. I’ll never forgive you for this.”
My heart was shattered. He didn’t understand. I refused to give an explanation to defend myself. His relationship with both of his parents was too important. But the agony of his sorrow…maybe I should just go back and give him what he wanted.
No…as painful as this was, he’d just have to hate me. Because I knew he didn’t know any better. He didn’t know how much he had been sheltered from. He didn’t understand…and he wouldn’t understand.
No matter how much it killed me to not give him what he KNEW he wanted…to go back to that house, to that life…I knew he deserved better than what he would ever get there- a miserable, broken mommy and a poor example of what love and marriage should look like.
This is a scenario that plays out a lot in broken families. It’s awful and horrible and sad and not how God intended it. Hear me here, I’m no advocate for divorce. As my husband and I have both said adamantly…we’re both divorced…but extremely anti-divorce. No one hates war more than someone who has lived it. No one hates divorce more than someone who has walked it. It’s awful and excruciating and not how it’s supposed to be. But it’s a reality of our fallen world and the broken, sinful people we are.
This article isn’t meant to be an argument for or against divorce…but rather an illustration of what God must feel when we ask for things He knows aren’t good for us.
I remember several years ago our youngest daughter asked my husband if we could all live together…our family and her mother. He kindly told her no, that wasn’t going to happen. Then walked into our room and once the door was shut, chuckled and shook his head. “Can you imagine what a train wreck that would be?”
It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking that would be a good idea. But to a sheltered child: Good= family together. Bad= family separate. They know what they want. They want their parents together. Yes, they’re sure. Yes, that’s what they want. The bad is painful, so therefore what they want is what’s right, right?
Of course, they don’t know any better.
And neither do we.
We walk around life no different than children. We know what we want. We know what’s good and what’s bad. We know what we want is good. After all, the bad hurts. So it must be bad. But we don’t know the whole story. We don’t know how the big picture looks. What if God’s no is protecting us from something we are blissfully unaware of?
No child would want their parent in a toxic or one-sided marriage or suffocating under the weight of addiction, adultery or abuse. But they don’t see any of that. They’re oblivious.
They don’t see the possible implications on their lives as they grow up believing certain situations are normal or acceptable, or that they may walk the same paths and end up with broken hearts.
To us, who know the whole story, their requests seem ludicrous. We know what they want would be the WORST possible thing for them.
Is that how God feels when we ask Him for things that seem good to us, but that He KNOWS would be the worst for us? He wants to give us something better, but we’re completely stuck on what we want. Why won’t He give us something that’s OBVIOUSLY good? We cry and stomp and clench our fists. We refuse to talk to Him. Refuse to believe He even cares. Because if He did…He’d fix this and give us what we want.
How much must it break his heart for His children to say, “I hate You. I’ll never forgive You for this.” Does He cave and give us what we want, knowing it will hurt us in the end? Or does He patiently wait and hope for the day we finally realize what He saved us from?
It was a random day a little over a year ago when my oldest son and I were in the car together alone. Out of nowhere he said, “Mom, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that I told you I hated you when we left. I’m so sorry I told you I’d never forgive you. I do forgive you. And I’m so thankful you left. I’m thankful we have the family we have. I can’t imagine life without Ed. I love seeing you so happy. And I want a marriage just like you have someday.”
I’ve still never told him what happened that led me to leave. He’s just grown up and realized that life wasn’t quite what it had seemed back then. When are we going to grow up?
He’s learned to trust my heart as his mother. He no longer questions when I tell him something is for his good. What if we learned to trust God’s heart?
He’s thankful now for the things I have done in all areas of life to try to give him the best possible life I can. What if we met each disappointment with gratitude rather than clenched fists knowing we don’t see the whole picture?
May we all get a little bit closer today to truly trusting the heart of our Father…and not only what we see.