By Liza Borstlap, pastoral counsellor and head of the HCC Hope Centre, mom of two, a woman with a strong artistic streak and a heart for God’s people …
We didn’t realise we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun …
One of my favourite movie scenes is from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Jesus is suffering and stumbles on His way to Golgotha. His mother, Mary, watches from a distance and has a flashback of Jesus as a little boy. As He falls in the dust, she rushes towards Him to comfort Him. In this specific frame her son – the Son of God – is on His way to pay the ultimate price for mankind, but what she sees is a little boy.
These days I catch myself remembering my children in the same way. Both of them are adults now, but my memories of them growing up are vivid and real. After I got divorced and things started to unravel, I read many statistics that stated that children from single parent homes are more prone to violence, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies. Scary stuff.
When I gave birth to my children, I was clueless. I felt exactly the same when my single parenting journey started. The court didn’t issue a guidebook to help me navigate the new terrain. I knew nothing, but I loved them with all my heart. I made spectacular parenting mistakes, laughed through calamities and oftentimes relied on their input when we had to make decisions. I found out that children are much wiser than what we give them credit for. They are observant and full of insight.
It is not what you do that is important but how much love you put into the doing that really matters. – Mother Theresa
I vividly remember an evening when I scolded my son because I felt that he had to take on more responsibilities. He dryly replied that the young king will gladly ascend to the throne if the old queen will make way. It was my cue to stop interfering, stop worrying, stop meddling and to surrender my children to God.
Be silent, and listen to God. Let your heart be in such a state of preparation that His Spirit may impress upon you such virtues as will please Him. Let all within you listen to Him. This silence of all outward and earthly affection and of human thoughts within us is essential if we are to hear His voice. – Francis Fénelon
I witnessed different seasons in my children’s lives. There were times when they left home to discover the world, and times when they returned to catch their breath, find their strength and grow their wings to fly again. I cried with them when they experienced hurts and disappointments; when life came crushing down on them. I encouraged them when they felt overwhelmed. Over the years the gears shifted, and I found them to be supportive and helpful when I had to navigate through difficult waters. I realised that we are in a constant dance, where we come closer and further apart depending on different circumstances.
The more we become sensitive to our own journey the more we realise that we are leaving and coming back every day, every hour. Our minds wander away but eventually return; our hearts leave in search of affection and return sometimes broken; our bodies get carried away in their desires then sooner or later return. It’s never one dramatic life moment but a constant series of departures and returns. – Henry Nouwen
My children don’t really expect much from me anymore. They just need me to be breathing somewhere in close proximity. They need me to show up in their lives, to be present.
I’m so grateful for all the memories engraved in my heart. I take note of my children’s existence and involuntary compare it to a filed picture in my memory. They might be conquering the world, but to me they will always be the little boy and little girl waiting to be scooped up into my arms.
A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms, even when his hands are empty. – Ziad K Abdelnour
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