|The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 232)|
Confession of a Mother
One day I received a message from my son informing me that his wife was down with shingles. Two weeks later, he told me that two of his sons were down with chickenpox! After ten days, their eldest daughter, Becky, got it too! I could imagine how stressed up he and Shan must have been during that period. I was thankful that my two children did not have chickenpox at the same time when they were young. In fact, Linus' sickness was instrumental in bringing a spiritual revival in my life. Surprisingly I have not shared with him my experience yet. I should confess to him about it at the appropriate time.
On his sixteenth birthday, Linus woke up in the morning with a high fever and we discovered that he had chickenpox. He was feeling miserable and did not go to school. I took leave from work to look after him. In the afternoon of that day I received a call from someone speaking in Chinese, “May I speak to Mrs Chua, Linus' mother, please?”
“I am Linus' Chinese language teacher. I understand from the school office that he is down with chickenpox. May I know how he is feeling?”
“What a caring teacher she is!” I thought to myself. “He is running a high fever and is sleeping at the moment. Do you want to speak with him?” I asked.
“No, it is alright. Don't disturb him! I just want to let you know that he is very weak in Chinese and I hope he can spend more time on the subject as his 'O' level examination is just around the corner.” She said.
“I understand your concern and I will see how I can help him. Thanks for calling.”
My heart sank as I put the telephone receiver back on the cradle. To receive a call from my son's teacher complaining about his academic under-performance was no small matter to me twenty-nine years ago. In fact, Linus spent a lot of time on the Chinese language but he had a low aptitude for learning the subject. Once he told me, “Mom, please don't waste my time and your money on engaging Chinese tutors for me. The language is too difficult; besides I will never become a Chinese scholar anyway.” We had done our best and we just had to accept the fact that he was not cut out to be a linguist in the Chinese language.
Since Linus was under the weather that day, I did not want to burden him further so I kept that conversation with his teacher to myself. After dinner, I could no longer contain the angry feeling that was brewing in me, because I felt insulted by a stranger telling me that my son was not doing well in school. I needed to let the steam out of my system, so I put on my walking shoes and went out for a walk.
As soon as I was outside of the gate, tears began to flow freely from my eyes. I had always wanted my children to do well in school and to feel proud of their achievements. Even if they were not top of their classes, they should at least be above average. That was what I had expected of them. But now that expectation was dashed and I felt terribly dejected and miserable. I walked aimlessly in the quiet streets with only a few people who came out to walk their dogs.
After walking a few rounds around the neighbourhood, I became calmer and less agitated. The crisp evening air helped to clear my foggy head and my tears stopped flowing also. I began to do some soul-searching over the whole episode. I posted a few questions to myself, “How can I be so upset over a phone call as though my world is collapsing? Am I afraid that my son will have no future just because he does not do well in one of the many subjects he is studying? Or is it something else that is bothering me? Perhaps this is the tip of an iceberg of spiritual problems that I am harbouring in my heart! I have to look deeper into the core of my inner being to search them out.”
I began to reflect upon the state of my spiritual condition. How was my relationship with my Lord? I always knew that ultimately God is in control of every situation in our lives but in actual fact I liked to think that I was in control of things around me. I wanted things to happen just as I had expected, but when my expectation was not met, I became depressed and put the blame on people or circumstances around me.
In the final analysis, I felt dejected because I was afraid to lose face among my friends whose children were doing better than mine academically. I was disappointed because I had placed my joy and happiness on my children's performance. So, my emotions went up and down according to their year-end report cards! I became depressed because they did not do according to my expectation so I was placing a lot of unnecessary pressure on them as well as on myself. If that was the kind of mentality I had, what difference was there between my faith and those who did not trust in God but in themselves? People in the world are constantly fighting for fame, glory and recognition but those who claim to put their faith in God should look beyond this temporal world to things eternal. I wondered if I had lost my first love for the Lord and had become rooted in the things of this world.
Once again, I began to cry, and this time it was the tears of remorse and rebuke, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Ps 42:5a). In this introspection, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin of pride and parental vain-glory. My despondency was actually due to a sense of self-importance. Many parents think that their children's achievements are the reflections of their own achievements also. They gave birth to children with clever brains, they have the ability to nurture them and therefore they are successful parents. Instead of giving God all the glory, they boast openly or subconsciously of the achievements of their children thinking that they can do all these on their own steam. What a fool I was when I allowed myself to be drawn into such a worldly mentality.
I wanted people to think that I was a successful mother and that I deserved the highest lifetime achievement award but in fact I was only an instrument in God's hand to give birth to my children, to nurture, teach and guide them by the grace of God. I cannot do all these by my own strength. As a mother, all I can do is to set a godly example for them and guide them along life's path and God will mould them and help them to conform to the likeness of Christ for His own purpose and glory. I must trust that God will direct, protect and perfect their ways with His rod and His staff as a shepherd guiding his sheep.
As parents sometimes we worry so much about our children until we have a nervous breakdown. We worry that they will not do well in their studies; that in future, they cannot find good jobs to support themselves; we worry that they will fall prey to the evil influences of the world; we worry that they will go astray and depart from the path of righteousness. All these warrant our concern but sometimes the starting point of our worry comes from our own pride; our names will be tarnished if they don't do well and we will lose face before others.
I need to repent and put off my self-importance and pride from my old self and turn my eyes upon God as the psalmist said, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps 42:5b). I realised that my greatest problem was that I had not fully laid my children before the feet God and trusted Him to train and direct them in the right path. If God had so graciously provided such a great salvation for me, how could He not guide and guard what I had entrusted to Him?
After all these reflections, a heavy stone was lifted from my sinking heart and peace returned to me and I was able to pray, “Dear Lord, forgive me of the wickedness in my prideful heart and teach me to be a godly mother who knows how to guide my children in the path of righteousness!”
I returned home that evening in a completely different mood, thanking God for the warmth and peace of a loving home. No one knew the storm I had just weathered and everything was back to normal. The inner peace that I had experienced was so precious to me that I have to pen down some of the lessons I learnt through that experience.
First, the fact that I was afraid of others criticising my children was because I had at times looked down upon someone else's children who did not do well in life. I need to repent from such an unkind attitude towards others. I must not criticise others' children because I have no idea how my own children will turn out to be. We have heard that some godly servants of God have wayward children who walk towards the world and forsake the faith of their fathers. In the Bible, Samuel was a great leader in Israel but his boys were rejected by the Israelites. If our children grow up in the favour of God and men, it is because of God's grace in preserving them in the first place. We should thank and praise Him and not congratulate ourselves for that.
Second, we often want our children to excel in their studies so that they can enter a famous school to boost our pride and vanity before our friends. We engage special tutors for them and send them to extra classes just to push them a little higher in their ranking in school. But do we as Christian parents pay as much attention to their spiritual growth and maturity? Their worldly activities are already pushing them out of the church and fellowship without us pressurising them with their school work. More importantly we should encourage them to put their priorities right in their spiritual and mental growth. We pray that they will not grow cold in their love for God and stray away from the right path.
Third, we must learn to entrust our children into God's hand. Pray for them daily for God to help them to be obedient children in the Kingdom of God. When they meet difficult situations in life that is beyond our ability to help them, pray to God for help. No matter at what age, they are still our children and we must not forget to lay them before God and ask Him to lead and guide them as Job did for all his children.
Fourth, our prayers should not be just for our own children; we must remember other people's children in prayer too. If any child in our church family meets with some problem, do not neglect to pray for him. Empathise with other parents whose children have special needs. Uphold these families in prayer and as we pray for them, we will naturally want to render practical help to them. One of the ways we can show love to members of the church is by interceding for them before God.
I echo with the psalmist, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Ps 34:4). How wonderful and comforting the Word of the Lord is. Indeed, He has delivered me from the fears that surround me at every stage of my life. As a grandmother now, I am still praying for my children and grandchildren that God will keep them and preserve them each day.
I shall confess to Linus about what his teacher told me that day on his sixteenth birthday, how the Lord delivered me from all my fears and vain-glory, and directed my feet back to following Him in His footsteps. All glory to God that He delighted in using my son to serve Him fulltime in spite of the fact that he did not do well in the Chinese language and he is still very weak in that area!
I would like to encourage all parents with these wise words of David, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” (Ps 37:25).