At a gas station many years ago, my preteen daughter ducked her head out of the car window and popped me a question.
“What would you say if I came home pregnant?”
I was glad for the pump to hang on to and the exercise of filling the tank to divert my eyes. Since she was too young to be sexually active, I didn’t faint at that prospect. However, this was a moment I knew would eventually come, so I said, “Well, my darling, not much … because that’s exactly what I did.”
You see, that pubescent girl was once the precious baby I had carried as an unwed mother.
It was time for me to share a major mistake I had made in my youth, which she accepted without comment. (Later we could talk about the deeper ramifications.) There is never a text book time or place to share these kinds of things; but when the question is asked, it should be answered appropriately, according to the child’s level of understanding.
At the gas pump, I had a choice to deny the truth, dodge the question, or in terror of the same thing happening to her, lay down the law. I’m so glad I did not lose the opportunity to show the grace and goodness of a God who redeems every circumstance, because …
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28*).
God’s ability to turn our darkest moments into good tells me that He is God and I am not. Julian of Norwich, the fourteenth-century mystic wrote, “Though the soul’s wounds heal, the scars remain. God sees them not as blemishes but as honors.”
After years of hiding my soul’s scars, it was such an utter relief and joy to relinquish the protection of my own reputation. In all the years I ministered to women, I only rarely and selectively offered full disclosure, for fear that others would think less of me. (My righteousness was in my works, not in Christ.)
A close friend shared with me a few years ago that when her son was getting married and would then gain possession of his birth certificate, her husband, the father, wanted to somehow have the young man’s birth certificate changed to reflect a full nine months from the wedding until the date of the boy’s birth. This saddened her for it spoke much more about her husband’s lack of confidence in a God of forgiveness and restoration than about hiding timelines from a son conceived out of wedlock. Chances are pretty high that their son had already figured it out, anyway.
So long as we mothers have not forgiven ourselves for our past misdeeds and sins, we’ll certainly never be able to fully forgive our children for their blunders. At times, our children’s choices may leave us stunned. When your children mess up, don’t reach for the hair shirt or beat yourself up for failing. Our children are free agents and must make choices of their own. But God is there when we can’t be. And while it is appropriate that we pray for God to keep our children from evil, or at the very least take them out of the circumstances, He often permits them to travel through the storms. But remember, He also is able to deliver them—safe, though scarred; secure, though shaken; and wiser, though wounded.
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture” (Romans 8*).
Mothers, both you and your children will make mistakes. Bring them to our heavenly Parent, who is in the business of forgiveness and restoration. He makes no mistakes!
*Scriptures quoted from The Message
Alice Scott-Ferguson is a Scottish-born freelance writer, author, and motivational speaker who lives in Arizona. She writes from her heart as a wife, mother, grandmother, and Christ-follower. Among other books, she is the author of Mothers Can’t Be Everywhere, But God Is : A Liberating Look at Motherhood, from which this post is extracted.