Some days I wonder if it will ever get easier. When we jump over one trial and just feel our feet adjusting to walking the path again, often a new parenting hurdle emerges to overcome. First we wonder if they will ever sleep through the night. Then we hope to survive potty-training. Then the teen years and hormones hit before we know it. Sometimes it feels like too much to handle.
Our then 13 year old daughter has battled alopecia for a year and a half and finally lost all of her hair. I mean all of it – eyelashes, eyebrows, arm hair, leg hair. Although I know many worse diseases plague the children of other parents, dealing with wigs, handling sleepovers, and battling fake eyelashes were not the middle school drama I had anticipated. Yet God showed Himself faithful through every decision made and tear shed. I commented to a friend that it felt like we were finally adjusting and accepting Abby’s condition.
I read about Elijah on the mountaintop conquering the prophets of Baal and watching God show up to help and support him. I thanked God for our own climb from the valley to the mountaintop of blessing. Then my daughter’s identical twin came to me later that same day and lifted up her hair. A bald spot stared back at me and I wanted to scream. Of course I held it together and told her we couldn’t be sure what was happening yet. As the spot grew bigger and my daughter’s fears escalated over the next few days, I wanted to cry foul.
Some moments I was full of faith and hope knowing God would walk us through every step, and other times I wanted to say, “No. It’s not fair! We’ve had our share of hair loss thank you very much. Let some other parent learn these lessons.”
To my great surprise, I found great parenting lessons on perseverance from Elijah’s mountain top experience. Right after God’s amazing display, Jezebel threatens his life. You would think he would have no fear after what he just witnessed his God perform. Yet 1 Kings 19 records Elijah’s reaction this way, “Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’”
As a parent, I can relate to feeling like I have had enough -whether its alopecia, disobedience, sibling scuffles, or a baby that won’t sleep through the night. I listened to a sermon on Elijah’s story and the pastor said that Elijah wasn’t running from death – he was running from life. One more problem to face. One more battle to fight. It never ends.
Just when we think we have finally arrived on the mountaintop of parenting, another issue comes to light. Like Elijah we want to say, “I have had enough Lord.” Elijah claimed to be alone, justified in his complaint, and walked out into the desert to pout. I can relate. When I got the news about my second daughter’s hair loss, I wanted to be alone to sulk. I didn’t call my friends or take some time to take care of myself. I just sat in my grief for a while until I found great comfort in His Word as He responded to Elijah’s moping.
God spoke to Elijah:
Get some rest.
Eat some food.
Go back the way you came.
Find the others who serve me to support you.
He came not in a windstorm, earthquake, or fire, but in a still small voice. God reminded me when an overwhelming new parenting situation rears its head, I too need to take care of myself with food and rest. I need to remember His faithfulness through past difficulties and go back the way I came trusting Him one day at a time. He also brought to mind the incredible people in my life who would pray, support, and help us walk this difficult journey.
So then we visited the same doctor’s office I know all too well only this time with a different twin. I’m sure as we walk through this new journey we will reach a mountaintop of lessons and closeness with God. Then new adventures and opportunities for persevering in parenting and will keep coming as long as we tread this earth. So whether you’re facing another day of runny noses, medical issues, or the struggle of consistent discipline with a strong willed child, keep persevering and be encouraged by these verses from your God offered in the still small voice of His Word to you:
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Psalm 50:15 “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”
1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”
God calls us as parents to be key disciple-makers in our children’s lives, but if we’re honest, some days it’s a battle just to get them dressed and ready for school on time. How can you mold their hearts when sometimes you can’t even find their shoes?
Melissa Spoelstra Author Bio
Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God's Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree, Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness, and Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible studies and the Mom's Choice Award-winning Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home book. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at MelissaSpoelstra.com or on social media on Facebook and Twitter. View sample chapters and video sessions at AbingdonPress.com/MelissaSpoelstra.