Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hugs, God and Chocolate Ice Cream

Recently I have watched all three of my children be disappointed in something that has not turned out the way we had hoped and prayed for.

As I watch their hearts ache,  I can feel their pain in the deepest parts of my soul, as any mom does. I so desperately wish I could "fix" their problems as easily as I once could when a band-aid, a kiss, and a bowl of chocolate ice cream could melt away any hurt.

But unfortunately ice cream does not heal all woes, even though we wish it could.  In the midst of great disappointment, their emotions are fragile. They feel hurt, angered, frustrated, helpless, and sad. That's a mixture of emotions that even adults have a hard time dealing with.

I can understand their feelings, because I have experienced disappointment more times than I want to admit. I remember the negativity that coursed  through my veins, the less than godly thoughts that crept into my mind, and the doubt about God's protection and love that was ushered in with the ever changing waves of emotion.

But I vividly remember the day that God helped me to see that He can turn our disappointments, into His appointments.  On that particular day when I was down and discouraged, I slumped down on the couch and half heartedly opened my Bible, hoping that maybe God would join my pity party. And He did join the party - but with grace, understanding and comfort - not pity.

You see, I came across Psalm 25 which talks about trusting God and finding hope in Him alone. Verses 4-5 say, "Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.:

 As if my eyes were suddenly opened to what was going on in my heart, I became acutely aware that I was faced with a choice in that moment.
I could either allow this disappointment to make me feel inferior and discouraged, or I could allow God to use it as a divine appointment to trust Him and wait to see how He would be glorified through it. I could wallow in a pit of pity, or put my hope in the sweet promises of God.

Sometimes we get so stuck focusing on the disappointment, we forget that life will go on. We are blinded to anything beyond the hurt we are currently experiencing. But God wants us to see the bigger picture, to look for the good that might come out the hurt, and to trust that even though we can't see it right now, He has a beautiful plan and purpose for this hardship.

I have the benefit of looking back over my life and seeing how God used my disappointments for His better plans - which gives me hope and encouragement. However, this is a hard concept for a child, even a teenager, to understand.

But with experience comes grace and wisdom, and those two gifts are what helps moms tend to the hurts of their children and others with with love and compassion, without joining into the negative emotions that they are expressing out of hurt and disappointment.

Our disappointments are often God's way of saving us from taking a wrong path, and preparing us for something better. But they are often His way of equipping us to minister to our children, or to others who are hurting, when they face disappointments of their own. To encourage them to trust in God's bigger picture; and to believe God's plan is always best, even when life doesn't go our way.

Our families should always be our first ministry. And if that means being disappointed at times so that we can help them to learn to trust God and put their hope in His ways, then if you ask me, each tear of experience shed was worth it.

And thank goodness, no matter how old our kids get, a  hug and a little chocolate ice cream can still bring a smile.

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