Never Alone

In this marble statue, David stands ready to slay Goliath with a slingshot and a stone. He's confident, knowing he is never alone.David was small in stature. He had only five small stones. By any measure, David stood no chance against the Philistine Goliath. But the Lord was with David.

This became an illustrative hope for me. As an adoptive mother I fretted when my twins were young. My son’s legs were twisted, his muscle tone floppy. He spoke with garbled sounds that were difficult to understand. He seemed perplexed by reasonable rules. Often passive, he let his twin sister button his clothing and speak for him in public. She, by contrast, was eager to do for herself, but she lacked the skills to do so capably. Her drawing and coloring remained at a toddler ability for many years and her odd language baffled everyone.

On hearty days I vowed to “catch them up.” I believed that heroic amounts of attention, therapies, and hard work would reap rewards. Often they did! In many ways this mindset served my children well, as therapeutic work structured our days, nurtured our bonds, and resulted in measurable, small gains that led to the many invaluable years of a classical Christian education. But on weaker days, I felt discouraged. Just when I thought we had made great strides, a child of a similar age would come over to play. I marveled at the organized mind of the capable child as she spoke with coherence, peeled a banana, or folded a swim towel. In such moments, I felt myself tumbling into the chasm of differences.

I believe now that I was mistaken on both the hearty days and on the weaker days in thinking that differences are all quantitative, problematic, and resolvable. In truth, my little ones would never possess the competence or strength of the easily-achieving children we knew. My little ones would not one day run with agility or win awards as if without effort. My enemy was never the other parents or children. My enemy was not even milestone charts. My enemy was the temptation of seeing other children as a measuring stick for my own. I had nothing sufficient in my satchel to slay this temptation. But the Lord was with me as He was with David.

In one of my weaker moments, the Lord provided something I needed to hear. Anna, an occupational therapist and one of my children’s early advocates, gently sat me down. She said that a top factor for a child’s true success was a deep sense of love, acceptance, and closeness from his mother. This made me pause. Closeness from me? I had seen myself as clinician, educator, and coach. If I was to shift to this understandably more important role, I would need to shift my thinking: My primary role is to be a loving, nurturing mother.

How would I do this? First I needed to see my children as the complex, fully human, endearing children they were and would always be. I needed to enjoy them more. As I jotted down delightful things they said—not to pursue language therapy goals but to see their unique view of life—I delighted in them. I snapped photos and created albums with captions to remind myself—and later them—of the many ways they enriched our lives and the lives of others. My husband and I continued bringing the children to church, praying with them, singing hymns with them, and reading God’s Word with them. Amid the “differences,” I witnessed moments of thoughtfulness, gentleness, kindness, helpfulness, faithfulness, patience, and self-control. The Lord was with me.

After our small steps of therapies, education, and love bore academic fruit, my children’s minds had been strengthened sufficiently to begin Latina Christiana. We enjoyed exploring etymology together as a love of language blossomed. My daughter learned a new phrase. She surprised me with a note she had written carefully: You are my nurturing mother, my alma mater.

No matter where our children fall on standard scores, percentile ranks, stanines, and other man-made measures, the Lord is with us. No matter what happens to our children’s minds or bodies, the Lord is with us. He gives us comfort, peace, and wisdom. He loves our children through us on our heartier days and on our weaker days. If we make no progress despite great effort, and if, God forbid, we witness regression due to degenerative or other conditions, the Lord is still with us.

Resting in this truth, we can rejoice in our children’s small steps. When they learn to say a new word, remember to pet the dog gently, or ask for forgiveness, we can pause in the wonder of such a moment. And when they take steps backward, fall flat, or fail, we can be there for them in love. Christ is with our children, just as He is with us.

The Philistine was far too formidable for one young man to battle. Similarly, the Enemy is greater than we are, on our own. But with hope in our hearts and the freedom of joy in our small steps, like David we know that the Lord is with us. Consider these words from David in Psalm 108:

I will praise thee, O Lord among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth; That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me…

Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

We press on day by day, year by year, throughout our children’s lives. We pray for our children as we encourage them, guide them, and love them. We are never alone. The Lord is with us in our small, fervent prayers. This is our confidence and our hope for our children, even after we are gone: His goodness and mercy will follow our children all the days of their lives. From another of David’s psalms, Psalm 138:7-8, we can pray with firm assurance and strength: Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me. … The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever.

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