It's been a hard road to have children while being in the ministry and I fear we've made numerous mistakes along the way. The hardest part is when you see your children affected by decisions you've made.
Moving here was hard on two of my children. Emily had close friends in our last church and it's been a hard adjustment for her here. She's made some friends and also lost a few along the way. The year we first moved here, she went to summer camp, excited to see her friends from her last church. However, they had moved on and to be honest, were quite unkind to her during the week of camp. The day we picked her up from camp, she sobbed all the way home. Then there have been some hurtful situations here as well. I've watched her close herself off from people quite a bit. She's more cynical than she ever used to be and that breaks my heart.
Stephen is doing okay though still struggles quite regularly with generalized anxiety disorder. Lack of sleep and structure at college do not help with this. Then when he is home he doesn't have a place to call his own because we live in a small house. So he is camping out in the middle of our sunroom during the summer months and vacation. All of that really doesn't help him get good rest. This is his last year at college too and he is looking forward to getting out into the "real world."
Nathan has struggled the most. He went from enjoying both his job and the fire department and really blossoming to feeling depressed the majority of the time. He is continually picked on at work and ignored at the fire department. He went from being a self-confident young man to retreating into his shell again. In fact, he often says he feels like he's under a curse since we moved here.
Why do I share these things here on the blog? Because even though it's been a hard few years on our family, God still works in the midst of these things. I can't see the future and I don't know what the Lord has in store for my children. I'm not sure what they will face years down the road. But the Lord does and He is preparing them for that.
Emily went from being overly dependent on having friends to being okay with just a couple. She has developed compassion for the outcast and downtrodden. She has a heart for those who are hurting and shunned. I'm not sure that would have developed without some of the things she's gone through herself.
Nathan is learning some hard things in life, but he is also learning to advocate for himself. He is finding other interests in life besides just firefighting. He is growing up and learning responsibility. He is also finding that when he gets spiritually fed during the week by spending time with his church family that he is better equipped to deal with whatever comes his way at work.
As parents we want to protect our children from all the hurtful things in life. We want to make it better. And yet, much of their growth happens during the hard times. When I look back on my life, it's the hard places that caused me to depend and trust in the Lord. So why wouldn't I want my children to grow in their faith?
I still hurt and ache for my hurting kids, but I also know that I can't run in and save them from every situation. I'm working on just offering guidance and advice as they navigate the choppy water and praying that they will come through mature and depending on God for guidance.