Church was over, but not Caly’s crying. She had been crying through most of the service, and despite all my efforts, she just wouldn’t stop. I snaked my way through the crowded church lobby with my emotional child, trying to look cheerful and composed.
I found my mom, handed her a crying Caly, and burst into tears.
Raising an emotional child is an emotional experience. I cried a lot in those early years of training Caly. It wasn’t just the lack of sleep or the long, exhausting days or the embarrassing situations, all of which took their toll—most of all it was the feeling of hopelessness that hung over me because all my efforts to teach Caly self-control seemed to be making little or no difference at all.
I was trying so hard to be faithful. Why didn’t there seem to be much progress? Shouldn’t it be working by now?
Caly did eventually learn self-control. But it took much longer than I expected. And then much longer after that.
My mom encouraged me to persevere. She reassured me that my efforts would yield results someday. I had to believe God’s Word that as I was faithful to parent, God would be faithful to bring the fruit.
J.C. Ryle comments on Proverbs 22:6, “Train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it”:
“It speaks of a certain time when good training shall especially bear fruit,—‘when a child is old.’ Surely there is comfort in this…It is not God’s way to give everything at once. ‘Afterward’ is the time when he often chooses to work, both in the things of nature and in the things of grace…And ‘afterward’ is the time to which parents must look forward if they see not success at once,—you must sow in hope and plant in hope.”
Sow in hope. Plant in hope. Parent in hope that God will bring the harvest. This is the key to dealing with our fearful and hopeless feelings as moms
Fast-forward six years later to another Sunday morning. The service is over and I am pushing a double stroller with another emotional toddler through the crowded church lobby—my three-year-old son, Hudson. Only this time I have a one-year old in the front and two older girls beside me. It is Caly all over again, with three more children in tow.
Except, this time, I’m not on the verge of tears. In fact, I can almost manage a half-smile. Sure, I’m tired, exhausted in fact; and it is tough caring for another emotional child. This time around, though, I have more hope.
Caly is walking beside me, calm, obedient, and helpful. She is a reminder to me of the faithfulness of God. She is a reminder to me to persevere in teaching Hudson self-control, in hope.
And I have hope, that because of the abundant faithfulness of God, one day—even if it is one day far away—I might leave church and no one will be crying.