My hubby made an observation about me this week that was totally accurate. He had just gotten home from work and I was on "Struggle Street", having a not-so-awesome parenting moment. His comment came as I was lamenting about the hardships of my two teens who battle not fitting in and are often left out at school. That particular day, they both came home lonely and discouraged and my heart couldn’t handle it. The minute my hubby walked in the door, I fell apart.
As the tears and snot were rolling down my face, he said to me, “You really don’t do well when your kids struggle.”
I was silent.
Then he asked, “Why is that so hard for you?”
I sniffled and exclaimed, “I don’t know! I’m a mama bear. No mom likes to see her kids hurting.” I felt defensive. But then I thought about what he had said and realized it was true.
As a mom, I often operate out of “protect and prevent” mode. I would love if I could put my kids in a happy, worry-free little bubble where nothing is difficult. I think that I have accidentally made that my goal sometimes - to give them a life free from hardship. But that’s not realistic or even what is best for them.
Struggle isn’t always bad. Sometimes, it’s for our good. God can use struggle to discipline us if we let him; it can prune the areas in our life that are not producing fruit and make us more dependent on him. I’ve learned that lesson in my own life; now I try to embrace the struggle that leads to discipline.
Hebrews 12: 10-11 (NLT) says, “ For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it’s happening - it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
Even though I have made peace with struggle in my own life, for some reason I haven’t surrendered to that idea for my kids.
Even though I know struggle can help grow their character and deepen their faith.
Even though I’ve seen it working in their lives to produce fruit.
Even though the Bible makes it clear that it’s necessary.
Despite knowing all of those things, I don’t walk down Struggle Street very gracefully with my kids. I’m more dragged down it kicking and screaming.
As hard as my hubby’s observation was to hear, I knew he was right and I told him so (he loved hearing that!). I determined that it was time for a reset in my heart and mind about struggle, so I went to my Bible to read Hebrews 12. I was humbled by what I found. I’ve probably read that chapter 100 times before, but something new struck me this time:
Hebrews 12:5-7 (NLT), “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, ‘My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his own child. As you endure his divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children.”
When I finished reading those verses, I had fresh tears, but this time I was thankful. God loves my kids and calls them his own. Because of his love for them, he allows the struggle that leads to discipline. This time of hardship in their lives will reap a harvest of right living one day. He’s allowing it so that he can mold them into the people that he wants them to be.
He loves them. He calls them his own. There will be a harvest one day.
Those are some pretty awesome comforts for this mama’s hurting heart.
I realized, then, that Struggle Street is really Opportunity Avenue. It’s my chance to teach my kids how to rely on their faith -- to show them how to dive into the Word and to pray about what they are going through. It’s a chance for them to grow deep faith roots, too. Their struggles are the perfect training ground for discipline. If I want them to have deep faith (yes!), they need to walk Struggle Street just like I do.
Since my little revelation, I have started asking God to make me strong enough to handle hardship in my children’s lives and for the wisdom to point them to truth in the midst of it. I have also asked for an abundance of peace as I trust that they are firmly in his grip.
I am determined to struggle better.
Aminta Geisler is married to her best friend, Ben, and is a stay-at-home-mom of two teens and two toddlers. A self-proclaimed Jesus freak, she loves making old furniture new, studying God’s word, and all things pizza. You can read more about her journey of reckless abandon for Jesus @amintageisler.com or on instagram @amintageisler.