“Making the decision to have a child . . . is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
To become a mother is to risk heartbreak. Or, rather, to guarantee it. Sure, there are also joys so intense you feel like you might explode. But motherhood inevitably means sleepless nights rocking a crying baby, or waiting for the soft click of a teenager’s key in the door, or praying, praying, praying for a _________ child. You fill in the blank. Because when our children hurt, we hurt. We want only the best for them, and as much as we’d love to control what touches their lives, we know we can’t.
But there is good news. We live in a broken and scary world, but we live here by the purposeful design of a sovereign and loving God.
Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
His eye is on the sparrow. We love that image, but we seem to forget that the verse doesn’t say sparrows won’t fall. Only that God is there — aware and in control — when they do.
So, what are we to do when our Father wills that our own precious sparrows drop from the sky? How do we live without fear in a world where a loving God knows and sees, and yet sparrows do fall?
Everyone has a story. You have one, and I do, too. Some of the chapters of my story are filled with wonderful delights, and some are like walking barefoot over shards of glass. If it were up to me, I would leave those painful chapters out, but as I consider my life so far, I realize the hardest parts of the journey have been gifts. Good gifts from a good God who never calls us to suffer without purpose.
On May 10 of 1996, our first-born son Jacob celebrated his fifteenth birthday, and I remember the pride and joy I felt. He had good friends, his faith in God was blossoming, and he seemed blessed with unlimited potential. My mother heart overflowed with gratitude.
Two weeks later? He lay in ICU, in a coma, breathing with a respirator. It was an end-of-school outing at the lake. No one saw what happened, but after piecing everything together, we realized he’d been under water at least ten minutes. Doctors predicted he would never wake up.
This wasn’t the way we’d expected Jacob’s story to go.
If you drop a pebble in water, ripples are set in motion. But let’s say it’s not a pebble. Let’s say it’s a priceless jewel. Something you dearly love. Something irreplaceable. You’ve spent your life trying to protect it, and now, due to circumstances beyond your control, it’s gone. You stare in disbelief at the spot where it went down, wishing you could press rewind or wake up and realize it’s all just a horrible nightmare, but you can’t, and it isn’t.
At this point, you have a choice. You can keep staring at the spot where your treasure sank,or you can watch the ripples to see what God is doing.
Because He is always doing something beautiful. And your story? The one that feels like it just went desperately wrong? It’s part of a much greater story—the one in which God makes all things new.
Jacob is thirty-four now—a precious, brain-injured young man with a faith that is startling in its radiance. The ripples set in motion more than nineteen years ago continue to spread far beyond our wildest imagination. No, it’s not the story I would have chosen, but God is bringing to pass plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness. He takes all our brokenness and transforms it until it shines with a beauty we never could have dreamed possible.
Motherhood may cost us everything, but it gives back a thousand fold. Let’s not be afraid to let our hearts go walking.
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Your story is heart wrenching. Yet, like you wrote, we have to love our kids with open hands and deep trust in God.
” you have a choice. You can keep staring at the spot where your treasure sank,or you can watch the ripples to see what God is doing.”. So good. Simple, beautiful truth. Thanks for sharing Jeanne. Happy New Year!
Jeanne, your story is heartbreaking and yet you are fulfilling scripture 2 Corinthians 1.3-7 by sharing it and living it. God’s richest blessings to you in 2016.
Jeanne, your story is heart wrenching. Yet you are using it to point us all to trust God & use every part of our stories for His glory. Grateful to have read this today. May God’s favor rest upon Jason & your family!
This truly hit me. I’m so tired of staring at the spot where my treasure sank. I’m so different now, following the painful and “final” rejection of our daughter. But, I’m tired of my heart aching.Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone…there are others who are dealing with things beyond our control. We do have a God who sees and He sees more than we do. He sees where the ripples are heading. And, He loves us. I am trusting Him…
So much risky love. I am mulling your story over in my mind – it takes courage and the heart of Jesus loving through us to keep on loving and taking risks after so much loss. Thank you for soldiering on by His grace, and then sharing the battle here today.
Thank you, Elizabeth. Yes. Open hands, by God’s grace. Love to you.
Thank you, Lisha! Happy New Year to you and your lovelies!
Thank you, Hopeful50. Isn’t it amazing how He redeems?
Thank you for the encouragement, Joanne. I love the way God weaves our stories and intersects them, even the painful parts. Someday it will all make glorious sense.
Dear Joan, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. You are right to put “final” in quotation marks. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. May He give you the grace to lean into Him and the eyes to see His purposeful hand in these painful ripples. Tender love to you!
Thank you so much, Michele. Your words encourage me deeply!
Thank you for sharing this. We have 5 daughters ages 28-13. two prodical’s and our 17 year old daughter Hannah who at 15 was in a cheer leading accident. after getting kicked in the head numerous times the last one was a domino effect to all her previous injuries resulting in amnesia. she lost her long and short term memory and gained a mouth like a sailor. she forgot who we were including God. Just recently her and I were in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver that pushed my heavy SUV through a signal light and rolled my car down a hill which resulted in more brain injuries for hannah. Just before Christmas we decided to remove her from the Christian school she been attending, she can’t do the work, she needs more specialized help than what they’re able to give and the bullying was beyond conceivable. Were about to start back into school doing hospital home care for the month of January while the public school does some testing to see how they can best help her get her graduated. were watching the ripples a day, a month at a time.
Dear Teresa, may the Lord be strong in your weakness, and may His grace amaze you as you lean into Him. I know sometimes it’s one breath at a time. Holding you, your Hannah, and your prodigals before His throne with tender compassion, sister.
Jeanne you are a brave and beautiful momma and the ripples that went out from that heartwrenching moment of knowing your precious sparrow lay beneath the water was a cost that no mother imagines she will have to pay, but the return on investment is a thousandfold, like you say. Jesus shines through you and I know through your sparrow too because He has his eyes on you. I am halfway into your book and got distracted with cancer treatment, but I am back on my feet and hoping to spend time reading this new year and reading the rest of your story. It was hard to put down, but I was so exhausted, I wanted to read it when I was able to really soak it all up. So much hope in your words. <3
I have tried several time to leave a comment from my phone since we have been out of town, to no Avail. Thank you for sharing your story. You and I have similar stories about our children, and I am encouraged by this post. You are amazing!
Dearest Kelly, what a beautiful gift you are! Thank you for your kind words and for picking up our story in the midst of your own journey with pain. I pray God meets you on the pages and whispers His tender love for you.
Thank you, Diane! And thank you for hosting this forum where we can share our stories and encourage one another. Love you, sister! xo
Jeanne, thank you for sharing your story. Your courage and faith have encouraged me today in the deepest way.