Last week our family was struck with the winter illness that seems to be plaguing the school. I would be lying if I said I didn’t secretly enjoy the days that my kids get to stay home from school and snuggle on the couch with me. As I was curled up in my daughter’s bed, cradling her feverish head on my lap while she slept, I flipped through the old pictures on my phone. I found a selfie that my son took a couple years ago.
He is laying beside me on my bed making hilarious silly faces, and I am propped up on several pillows, an ice-pack on my head, and a vomit bowl beside me. Around the time my son turned two, I began to experience 5-6 migraines every week for almost a year. I remember thinking many times throughout that year that I was a terrible mother. I wasn’t taking my kids to the park, I wasn’t taking them sledding, I wasn’t inviting families over for dinner, I wasn’t having other kids over to play with my kids, I wasn’t planning fun crafts and games. We were all just surviving.
I often presented this frustration to God, telling him that all I wanted was to give myself to my family and yet I had nothing to give! I was asking for health so that I could make my children’s lives better, and yet He was not restoring my health.
It was a hard lesson for me to learn, but God was very patient as always. I learned to accept that I am not the one who always gets to create childhood for my children. When I wanted to give my son a trip to the library, but God chose to give him a day at home with a sick mom, God’s gift was better. I could not have taught my son to be self-sacrificing at the library. God knew he could learn that lesson by patiently playing alone in his room, by filling up my water bottle, by grabbing another ice-pack out of the freezer.
When my best intentions and plans for my family came crashing to a halt because of my physical inability, I had to learn to look away from what we were missing out on and look to what God was giving us. Instead of camping adventures, God was teaching my children to help around the house. Instead of playing at the park, God was teaching my children to wait. Instead of a fun craft that I planned, God was teaching my children to be creative on their own. I had to “die” in order for God to teach my children valuable lessons that I could not have taught them if I were in complete health.
God teaches this lesson in so many other areas of life as well. If finances are low, instead of bemoaning the things you are unable to do, look for the gifts He is giving you. Maybe He is giving your family the gift of learning creativity or new recipes or just more quiet weekends at home. If your child is sick, instead of thinking about all the the events you are missing, give thanks that He is teaching your child patience and endurance. If moving takes you far from family and friends, instead of comparing your new situation with what you miss, give thanks that God is giving you many more opportunities to teach your children to be a witness and a light to the world.
Even when you’ve planned something good, if God takes it away, have faith that His gift is even better than whatever you were trying to achieve. God’s goodness and mercy follow us everywhere, even when circumstances are different than what we wanted. We just have to choose to see them.
Lindsey Tollefson lives in beautiful Moscow, Idaho with her husband Jon and their three children. She spends her days carpooling their sweet kids, cheering at soccer games, and making a cozy home to survive the long winters. When she has a quiet evening she writes about the lessons she is learning in parenting, contentment, gratitude, and serving Christ. You can read more of her writing at her blog Lines in Pleasant Places and connect with her on Instagram @lindseytollefson. Psalms for Trials is her first book and she is a regular contributor with us here at Women Encouraged.