One of my ambitions is to never say No to an opportunity because I am afraid.
I do not live this perfectly, and the doors I remember shutting in fear still haunt me.
A week or two ago I got a call asking if I would talk to a Mormon lady from Utah, who’s in the area interviewing Mennonite women about motherhood.
My heart leaped at the chance, and I knew at once the only reason I’d say no was because I was nervous. Talking to a stranger? Talking about my motherhood, no less? All my insecurities rise to the surface. Oh Lord…
I love talking to Mormons, but they’re not created equal. Some have a personal relationship with Jesus, some do not (ditto Mennonites). With this unknown lady, I didn’t know what to expect. Would we get into theology or let our differences rest?
I am too prone to placing stock in first impressions, but the minute Karen walked in my door, I knew she loved Jesus. You don’t get a face like that at 50 without walking with Him a lot of years.
She is a mother of five grown children, one step away from a Master’s degree at Brigham Young University, and doing a project on women of faith as mothers; how faith affects “motherwork.”
She asked many questions, among them my long term goals and short term goals for raising my children. I said many things, then talked about wanting my kids to love the Lord, talked about experiencing the panicky frustration of being unable to guarantee this result, talking about fear of them walking away at the end, talked about trying to let the fear go.
After we were off the record, she told me a bit of her own story. Early in marriage, her husband asked her “What’s your goal for parenthood?”
She said, “WELL! Someday I want to stand before the Lord with all my children…”
“Well, that’s a stupid goal,” he said. She was shocked. This faithful man…?
Karen looked deep into my eyes, and her words were straight and gentle. “When your goals in life are dependent on someone else’s choices, you are setting yourself up for failure.”
Her new goal became to give her children so much of Jesus that loving Him would be a natural choice. And she succeeded.
She now has one son who is uncertain of the existence of Jesus Christ. As she told me this, she choked a little on the words, and her eyes were damp. “It hurts like crazy,” she said. “But it’s a different kind of hurt than if I had not taught him. I saw him shed tender tears as a child. I know he knew Jesus once, even if he’s chosen not to know him right now.”
She said teach your children of Jesus. Love them. Train them. Mother them well–that’s your goal. But let them choose. God always respects our agency. It’s Satan who robs us of choice, steals our volition.
It is ironic, isn’t it, that the opportunities we take on for the sake of other people usually end up heaping treasure in our own hands? Karen’s words are a gift I will keep always.
Say yes to the opportunities that come…
“When your goal is dependent on someone else’s choices, you are setting yourself up for failure.”
What do you think?