Have you ever been in a situation when you’ve tried to help someone only to find you’ve made the problem worse? Ever given advice that seemed so ‘spot on’ at the moment, only to find it was the opposite of what was needed? Ever rushed to the aid of someone, only to find out you weren’t needed and in fact, you were in the way?
I’m a mom…I have the need to fix things. I can’t help it…its part of who I am. The problem that goes with this trait, however, is the fact that I’m not always a part of the solution. In fact, the older my sons get, the less they need their mommy to step in on their behalf. I’m not saying that they don’t need me at all. Nothing thrills me more than Derek calling to bounce an idea off of me or Craig calling to ask what band sang a particular song…but the day to day living is not something they need mom for.
Jim and I were blessed last week with a visit to Colorado to see Derek and Brittany. What a wonderful time we had visiting with them and seeing the breathtaking surroundings that they call home. One evening, Brittany’s mother, Erica, fixed us an amazing dinner and as we sat around the table talking, we shared stories about Derek and Craig as they were growing up.
One thing that Jim shared was the fact that when the boys were young and fell down, before we could even determine if they were hurt, I made “the sound.” If you are a mom, you know what sound I mean. That unconscious sucking in of wind that lets the person that has fallen or hurt himself know just how badly he should be hurt according to what was just observed. I couldn’t help it…it just came out! Jim was constantly shushing me so whoever was injured could determine on his own if he needed to cry or just get up and try again.
It’s hard as your children grow up to know when to step in and when to step aside. But I must say it’s not just with my children that I had this tendency to step in and “save the day.” (Cue the Indiana Jones theme…lol)
I recently found a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Verse Inclusive Edition 1885-1918. Unless you are a fan of The Jungle Book or studied Kipling in a Literature class, you might not be familiar with his work. But one of his poems, entitled If, is one of my favorites. In fact, if you’ve read my blog for very long, you will recognize that I have used a quote from it before.
But tonight as I sat re-reading the poem, I was struck with a thought I had not had on previous occasions of reading the same. For some reason, tonight, it reminded me of the apostle Peter.
Here are just a few verses:
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…
If you can hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools…
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue…
or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch…
In the poem, the author is speaking of self control. If you can control yourself while all of these scenarios are going on, then, the author tells Yours is the earth and everything in it and what’s more, my son—You’ll be a man! In other words, if you learn self control, then you will be able to successfully maneuver through life’s critical times.
So where does Peter come into all of this? I was thinking in particular of the story when Jesus and the disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane. In John18:10 it says Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear.
Now, if this had been a Hollywood movie, I’m sure the crowd would have shouted their approval. But Jesus was not happy with Peter’s actions. It further reads, Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
In Peter’s defense, I’m sure he thought he was doing the right thing. I’m sure he felt, at the time, that his action was justified. Jesus was in danger and Peter wanted to protect him…what could possibly be wrong about that?
Jesus gives us the answer. Peter was acting outside of God’s will. It was all a part of God’s plan that Jesus be taken from that spot at that moment in time. It wasn’t the first time Peter had other plans for Jesus. In Matthew 16:23, after Jesus predicts his death, Peter took Jesus aside and said, “Never Lord! This shall never happen to you!” and in Chapter 17 when Jesus was transfigured, Peter wanted to put up shelters and stay on the mountaintop with Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
It’s only natural that we want to protect those that we love. But sometimes we rush in before stopping to think if this is what the person would want or even if it’s the best thing to do for the situation at hand.
Sometimes that hardest thing to do…and the best thing to do…is to say and do nothing…except pray. Pray for direction and ask God what he would have us do or say. One of the lessons I have learned throughout the years is that there is a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Many are the times that I have had no answers and yet, what was needed was not words, but just the ability to listen to a hurting soul.
I know my boys will always need their mom. But I also know that the one that guides me guides them as well…and He knows much better than I what they truly need. Nothing taught me this lesson better than when Derek was stationed in Iraq. Even if I had been able to be there with him, I could not have protected him. I was not what Derek needed. He needed me to be strong for him and to pray for him…not to be where he was for him to worry about. I would not only have been in his way, but would have endangered him and his unit. I know that Craig does not need me to be in his classes at U of E nor at his job, but here where I am, at home lifting him in prayer daily. Right now, this is where I need to be…for both of them. And I can be at peace knowing that the One who loves me also loves them…more than I could ever imagine. And not only does God love them…He is with them always. For not only are the promises He made mine to claim…but they are also my children’s to claim as their own.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine. –Isaiah 43