Mom Marathon Training
Have you ever trained for a marathon? Personally, just the thought of such makes me sit down on the couch and grab a bag of chips! I am truly impressed and greatly intimidated by people–and yes, I even know a few–who are that committed to such an endeavor. I will gladly sign up to be their biggest fan and strongest cheerleader … from the sidelines! But what if I paused for a moment and admitted, out loud, that I have been “in training” for a marathon that I never considered before?
Intrigued? Well, let’s call this the “Motherhood” Iron Man race, and reevaluate the terms and conditions of the registration and training process.
I remember holding my first child and being so very captivated by those sweet cheeks, that soft powdery scent, and those blue eyes. I promised that he would have the best of everything I could possibly afford, that he would go to the best schools, that I would be committed to “educational” toys that would continue to push him to excel, and that he would only watch TV programming that would stimulate him and prepare him for his years at Yale or Harvard or to study abroad. This all occurred within those first precious moments of swaddling him and feeling that sweet little cheek nuzzled into my neck.
Change of Plans
Now that I had his entire academic career worked out, I remember the overwhelming sense of responsibility for keeping a small person alive and thriving, growing stronger based on the decisions that I, as his mother, would be making on his behalf. There never was a question as to his growing up at church … my husband and I both are believers, raised in the church, and that was just the way it was going to be with all our children. It is still so very vivid for me when I glanced down into that little face and the Lord made me so keenly aware of a precious soul that He had entrusted to my care, my home, and my heart.
Satan tried to convince me from the very beginning that I was in no way qualified to “train up a child,” and I will admit, some days he was right. And yet, it was those very doubts that started my training regimen for raising my children.
I wish I could tell you that I spent hours on my knees crying out to the Lord. Some days I spent hours at the washroom, folding clothes and cloth diapers (yes, I’m an old mom) crying to the Lord for enough grace to get through the next pile of bibs and diapers and still be gracious. My training involved years of learning to listen and observe things my family needed. We added another son to our “team” and several years later we were graced with a daughter as well. The diaper piles decreased (thanks to the discovery of disposable diapers) but my time with the Lord was just beginning to grow.
My training regimen consisted of grabbing any spare moment I could find—such as discipleship while loading the dishwasher, memory verses while brushing my teeth, Bible stories that I would read to my kids while praying so very earnestly on their behalf. As I watched my children all grow into the very unique individuals that the Lord crafted each of them to be, I soon realized that there was no easy, 1-2-3, step-by-step plan to lead them to choose Jesus.
“Because I said so” worked for many things, but I desperately wanted all of my children to choose to follow Him because they heard His still, small voice that called them to repentance and belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. There was no magic formula of Bible stories plus Vacation Bible School projects plus bedtime prayers to achieve salvation. There were plenty of tears from my heart, prayers that my husband and I would pray together on each of our children’s behalf, an urgency that wished and wanted and pleaded and promised, and yet, part of our “training” was learning to trust and to lean into God and His timing.
I guess this would be similar to running miles 13, 14, or 15 of a marathon—when you’ve gotten off to a good start but still have a long way to go. You know there is a finish line, but you can’t see it. You’ve got to get your head and heart synced up. Jesus is the only answer for those moments—or in some cases, years—of waiting.
Hope In the Waiting
In my mind, all my children would accept Christ at six years of age, be baptized, and follow Him all the days of their lives because “Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Isn’t that the song we all learned? So, I was planning on checking that off my list and then consider my training done. Children in the kingdom of God = “Mom Work” complete! Right?
Don’t you just know the Lord was shaking His head at such crazy talk?
How very quickly the Lord humbled me to recognize that my children did not exist for my to-do list, but that my heart was being shaped to serve them individually as each one developed his or her own unique relationship with the Lord. This marathon was subject to His timing, His training plan, and His results!
Prayer In the Waiting
So, prayers continued over the years, and tears often slipped down my face as I learned to pace myself, to watch for those teachable moments to speak truth into their hearts, to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46). I always thought that “training a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) meant I was supposed to teach them and then I’d be done, but in 30+ years of motherhood I continue to learn that I am the one in training … still!
I am called to intercede for my children as long as I have breath. Am I running out my life-race in a way that reflects my willingness to listen to my Coach’s instruction? To discipline my heart for correction and guidance? To change out my knee pads due to wear and tear from being submissive to continue to pray for my now adult children? Or has it quickly become evident that my walk and talk were sporadic at best, filled with more time on the couch with my bag of chips and phone than a steady, nourishing diet of His Word, His coaching, and my obedience?
Truth to Cling To
While recently training for my lifetime mom-marathon, my Coach opened my eyes and heart to a verse in Romans that I had never “seen” before. It has been a much-needed adrenaline boost for this season of training.
Romans 11:23–24 says, “And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”
I am still praying for my adult children, that all will know Christ as their Father, that some will return to Christ as their Father, and that according to His will He will graft us all back into Him. It’s so obvious that my work will never be done (job security at its finest) but what a precious promise to cling to in the meantime.
Now, fellow mom, it’s time to put down that bag of chips, slip on those running shoes and sweatpants (because let’s be honest …. I’m nowhere near ready for those fancy running outfits), and continue to run the mom-race that He has set before us. There’s a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on (Hebrews 12:1)!