I realise I’ve been resistant to sharing my second word for 2022. Although my first word—listen—hasn’t been that easy to put into practice, at least I understood some of what it would require: giving more time to God and others; being silent enough to hear; and growing in empathy.
But my second word is a little different. It touches on deep areas of my life—painful areas—and even though I’ve been wrestling with how I need to respond to this word and how it looks to live it out, on difficult days I find myself no closer to mastering it. It is, as I’ve hinted, a very personal word for me and yet I realise it may also be the most universal of words, the one we all need to wrestle with at some point in our lives.
My second word of 2022 is Entrust.
Entrust is defined as ‘putting (something) into someone’s care or protection’. At the end of last year, when this word began to creep into devotionals, Bible verses and passages in books, I realised it was an invitation from God to put something specific into his care and protection.
I also knew what that something was—my children.
How I have loved being a mother. From the moment I knew I was pregnant and first felt those flutters of life, my heart expanded with love. I marvelled at their perfection when I first held my daughters—little noses, pinched mouths, just the right number of fingers and toes. How miraculous that God had entrusted these little beings into our care.
And how beautiful to watch them grow up. Perhaps I forget the difficult parts of those earliest years—the night feedings, constant nappy changing, rushing to hospitals for febrile convulsions or the terrible-two-tantrums. Or even the childhood years of homework, bullies at school, or waiting in cold cars for music and ballet lessons to end.
It felt enough to protect and provide and love. And perhaps it was…then. But at some point that changed. I could not mother away crippling anxiety, social difficulties or the resulting low self-esteem. I could not smooth the way for unfulfilled expectations, broken dreams or the reality of an indifferent yet demanding world.
I question myself. Did I do enough? Could I have instilled more skills to navigate such a world?
Difficult as it is to admit, I didn’t do everything well. Yet even this I need to release to God. Only then can I let go of regrets and trust that his grace will do what I can not.
There’s comfort in realising no mother can be everything to her children. We’re not meant to be.
“Motherhood is the place in our culture where we lodge, or rather bury, the reality of our own conflicts, of what it means to be fully human. It is the ultimate scapegoat for our own failings, for everything that is wrong with the world, which becomes the task, unrealizable of course, of mothers to repair. What are we doing to mothers when we expect them to carry the burden of everything that is hardest to contemplate about our society and ourselves? Mothers cannot help but be in touch with the most difficult aspects of any fully lived life. Why on earth should it fall on them to paint things bright and innocent and safe?”*
When the weight of motherhood feels like it might crack me, God whispers, ‘Entrust’.
I can no longer ‘carry the burden’ or ‘paint things bright and innocent and safe’. In fact, doing so is no longer beneficial to my young adult daughters. But it’s not easy to stop the habit or to figure out what mothering should look like in this particular stage.
I’m slowly realising it begins with this word ‘entrust’. It requires placing them constantly before God and trusting that he knows the path they need to walk. It’s having the faith that he will guide them, equip and strengthen them, and open doors for them to walk through that I never could.
And I do this—I keep praying for them and reminding myself that “God’s got this”. But their day-to-day struggles are still real, requiring a response. But what response? And the anxiety I feel for them still creeps in, usually in the dark hours of the morning, leaving me with the nagging thought that I’m not doing too well at this entrusting business!
So, this is the journey I’m on as a mother—gradually learning to entrust to God what he first entrusted to me.
*Quote from film “C’mon, C’mon”