The coffee shop was abuzz with conversation and energetic music. Leaning forward I strained to hear Maria, a mom of eight and grandmother of thirteen, as she shared some of the unexpected moments she and her husband experienced when their kids were teens.
“You set out on this journey and you think if you do certain things, or if you address certain issues you see in your child, you will get a certain result,” says Maria. “It just doesn’t always work out that way.”
She tells of one of her kids who, as a toddler, was easy going and agreeable. Then came the teen years.
The outright rebellion.
The endless questioning of the rules and expectations.
Then, almost without warning, this formerly amiable child, flat out rejected the family’s values. Even, at one point, running away from home.
Neither Maria nor her husband ever imagined they’d have a child who would run away. Sure, they knew the teen years would be a challenge, especially with eight children, but they never expected this.
“It was heartbreaking. You want to save them from negative life experiences, protect them and guide them. But,” adds Maria, “The problem with that is, it doesn’t bring them closer to the Lord. It doesn’t give them a reason to fall at His feet.”
I know what she means.
My husband and I have walked some dark roads with our own kids. And yet, I have witnessed how God has used those experiences to strengthen and transform our girls.
When I ask Maria how she made it through that intensely difficult period, she shares how praying and meditating on scripture gave her strength. She describes how the Holy Spirit met her in her most desperate and vulnerable moments, guiding her on how best to love her wayward daughter.
“I felt like what she needed was to be pulled back into our family. I mean wholeheartedly pulled back in, restored and dearly loved.” Maria continues, “After she ran away, she didn’t leave my side for six months.”
Today, Maria’s daughter is thriving. She is married and even has children of her own.
As she reflects on God’s restoration of her formerly rebellious daughter and the closeness they share, Maria confides, “I can say now, it is the most miraculous thing.”
One thing that has stuck with me from my time with Maria is her reminder that, as moms, we just do the best we can to pray and do what we believe God is calling us to do for each child.
“And,” says Maria, “if we do that, there will be fruit. But we might not see it for a while.”
We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.Psalm 33:20-22