October 20, 2011

What manner of child shall this be?!

What is a mother to do? How is it that our gene pool can extend so far as to produce progeny so unlike us, so extraordinarily different, so wired as to cause us to shake our heads in wonder (and bewilderment)…

Not just once this has happened, but by the fifth time a mother should have her response figured out! Nevertheless, here is #5—defying my innate tendencies, pushing the edges of my cautious hesitance, chomping at the bit to do things that haven’t been done, to try things for which I haven’t paved the way, to go where no Skelton (or Weaver) has gone before…

What is a mother to do?

Some mothers are gifted with vision and drive and are go-getters themselves. They’re ready to champion any cause their child shows interest in, to knock on doors, to lead the way, or at least be outstanding cheerleaders! Others of us can relate more to the wallflower motif…the church mouse…the sheepish schoolgirl. My husband used to tease me about having grown up in a ‘sheltered environment’. I always protested. Now I live happily in his pumpkin; he was right. Fear and self-interest live here too, uninvited but quite at home. But then came Rachel.

She’s a dreamer of many dreams, of places she’ll live, occupations she’ll hold, ministries she’ll start, impacts she’ll make on her world. She is not the wallflower sort. Her motto is: “Stand out; don’t fit in!”. All she needs is a foothold up, an assist with the nitty gritty details, a place to start. “Mom, how do I…”   “Mom, what do you think…”  “Mom, aren’t you so excited!”… “Mom, when can we…”

For a mother whose favorite pastime is being at home in the predictability of her own routine these questions are all a stretch. Anticipation, excitement and pretty much all things untried and unknown (except maybe trails and ice cream flavors!) are routine killers. They put my mind in overload mode, useless for anything but worry and anxiety.

What happens as I field these questions is that I put myself in her shoes and imagine ME having to do what SHE is cut out for. Once upon a time I held a Candy-striper job at a big General Hospital in my county. I was young and inexperienced then. And yes, sheltered. People smoking was beyond my comfort zone even (which is what coworkers did on breaks in those days). I liked the idea of sorting the internal mail (mundane, orderly, methodical) but doing drop-offs and pick-ups throughout the hospital… using elevators with silent strangers… going up and down and who-knows-where?...I did not like. To this day I have scary dreams of elevators going not only up and down but side-ways in a disturbing random way, where one never really knows where they are going!

Volunteering and being useful was a nice idea, but finding my way alone to the sundry collection points all throughout the hospital in quest of urine and blood samples for the lab, I did not like… I was too inexperienced and too myself I guess, to recognize what I needed or to communicate it…I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t express my troubles. But one day I mustered enough courage to escape! I walked into the volunteer office and QUIT that bad experience and when my mom picked me up that day, I told her what I’d done and burst out crying, to her (and my) complete surprise. It was left in my mind an unresolved trauma. I still don’t fancy hospitals. And to this day, I don’t think my poor mom has any idea why I quit. For she herself is a go-getter.

And now our roles are reversed and I am the mother with the daughter beyond comprehension. But as I agonized this morning over my unfitness for this job it struck me that without her I would not have to face my fears or shun my self-centeredness. I would be left with myself in my pumpkin--unchallenged, undeveloped, and unchanged. Perhaps this is why God gives us children. Some show us who we are.  Others, who we are not.  But each one is God’s instrument to shape us into all He wants us to become.

I have a fresh appreciation for Mary and Elizabeth today…each given a child like no other, a child who would so outstrip her achievements as to be incomparable. A child for whom she could not pave the way, only watch and marvel and treasure all the wonder in her heart…Even the neighbors wondered what little John would become. Not only did he not take his father’s name, but he lived an eccentric life besides. It is recorded that people took notice of his birth saying: “What manner of child shall this be!” And the hand of the Lord was with him. (Lk.1:66)

That’s the key isn’t it… the Lord’s hand is at work in these unpredictable wonders that we call our children. He’s with them and for them and using them as His instruments of righteousness for His glory and our wonder!

And tucked in with the gift of each child comes the assurance: “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Lk.1:37) He’s in the details I can’t fathom, and I can rightfully follow Mary’s fearless example: “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Lk.1:47)  So for today I will rejoice…and get on with that job resume Rachel’s needing help with! God’s mercies are new every morning, his grace enough to enable us to do the ‘impossible’!


“His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation…” Lk.1:50


"AuntieBernis said...

That go-getter has been changing her world for quite some time already. Ten years ago she generously shared her artwork with a childless "auntie", striking a deep chord within. Somehow she had a special way of connecting with others through that fearless manner of sharing her love and excitement for life. Now whatever happened to that stuffed mouse she made? I can still see it hanging up on my office wall!

Linda said...

Had a certain somebody reading this comment over my shoulder. Did her heart good. Thanks for the note.