I got a call from my husband at about 11:00pm. “We’re at a gas station now, but I think Jr.’s going to need an x-ray tonight.” Ugh. Seriously? I was in my pajamas, settled in bed with my laptop, thinking about actually going to sleep soon. But my husband had to get up and out the door for work in the morning, and I did not, so it was logical for me to take the kid to the ER if he did indeed need to go that night.
My 15-yr-old son walked through the door, shivering because it was freezing outside and he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, in too much pain to change after playing basketball at our church’s open gym night. He also was holding a paper towel full of ice on his wrist, and it was dripping coldly all over him.
As soon as I saw the pain in his face, and how gingerly he shuffled down the hall, my annoyance at being disturbed vanished. “Can we get a coat on you?” He winced. Nope. I threw a sweatshirt over his shoulders and grabbed a blanket and my purse.
In the next 18 hours (after three hours in the emergency room, an inconclusive set of x-rays, a visit to the orthopedist, a temporary cast on his possibly-broken wrist, and a padded and wrapped possibly-broken elbow on the OPPOSITE arm) I began to do something I had not done in quite a while. I took care of my son.
I held doors open for him. I buckled his seat belt. I held the ice pack on his wrist when his hand went numb. I put pills in his mouth and held a cup to his lips so he could drink water. I untied his shoes and pulled them off. I prepared him food and drink when we got home, and tucked a blanket around him on the recliner before I passed out on the couch.
In the days that followed, I continued to serve him. There was so much he couldn’t do. Put his sweatshirt on and off. Put his socks on. Wash his hair. Open a pill bottle. Pour himself a drink.
This first-born child of mine is independent with a capital I and has been since he was very young. Yes, he’s still needed me. To talk to him. To teach him. To guide his decisions. To drive him where he wants to go. To grant permission for the things he wants to do. To embarrass him by dancing in the kitchen. But he hasn’t NEEDED me.
There’s something different about serving him now than there was before. Babies and toddlers need parents to provide for their every need. To do everything for them. The willingness to do those things springs from our love and adoration of them. But then they learn how to do things for themselves, in leaps and bounds, needing us a little less every day. We rejoice with pride at their new accomplishments. But there’s also a pang, with each step toward independence, at the unprecedented separation. It’s as it should be…..and yet….
I have served this boy-man of mine through this time of healing, and it has been my pleasure. I’m reading my own words here, and I know it seems like I’m romanticizing something small and mundane. Of course my child, who is closer to being grown than being born, doesn’t need me to care for his physical needs anymore. Of course, when the need arose I took up that care again, willingly. So why all the emotional blather?
This past weekend I attended a women’s conference called IF:Gathering. My church hosted an IF:Local simulcast, and I was there for over 15 hours over two days, worshiping God, enjoying time with some amazing friends, and being fed spiritually. What I gleaned from the women who shared from God’s Word and their hearts is worthy of a dozen blog posts.
From my notes: Embrace your place….when God is ready to use you, He will find you! and Service is preparation for battle, not performance.
In our small group discussion time, we addressed a question about how to focus on the eternal a midst the practical. A wise woman in my group (a.k.a. my mom) reminded us that during the years when our lives are consumed with the 24/7 acts of service associated with raising children, we are also ministering to their souls. We are attending to their eternal souls with our practical, mundane, sometimes thankless service to their physical needs.
Whether they are just hours old and completely vulnerable, or approaching adulthood and quite capable….
Whether the ones you are serving are your children, parents, and siblings….or your neighbors, friends, and strangers….
Serving practical needs IS eternal, because those you are ministering to have eternal souls.
Mothers, your mothering makes you great. Your service to your children is service to your King, and it’s preparing you for whatever He has for you in the future. Never, ever, believe the lie that what you do is only valuable in the moment.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”