Last week as we were looking at the x rays of my 13 year-old’s fractured arm, I recalled—once again—each of the bones that our five children have collectively broken over the years. At the risk of you thinking that I should have, at minimum, made my kids drink more milk or, perhaps worse, that we are terrible parents, I’m going to list them for you anyways.
Child number one has had two broken pinkies. Child number two has broken the same leg twice, once at three years of age and again at fifteen, as well as a nose and a finger. Child number three has broken an arm. Child number four has broken two arms and child number five also another arm. There have also been sprains, concussions, stitches and various other minor injuries.
If you know my children, you know the tendency they have to get hurt! It’s kinda the joke around our community. To our defense, these kids are extremely active. They have jumped off of couches onto concrete floors, landed on each other’s arms the wrong way, been hit in the face with a baseball, pitched and caught so many baseballs that the odds for a finger to break are high, played football in the yard with friends and got too rough, and this one will bring tears to grandma’s eyes—been pushed too hard on the tire swing as a toddler.
My initial reaction to the first incident was heart-breaking. I remember it well. I had never experienced a broken bone (my dad is well-known for his parenting rules—no running and don’t put too much in your mouth); but as a mother, I was feeling the pain. The initial scans were negative—no fracture—however, we found out three weeks later that the bone was fractured and that he needed a cast! Guilt over his pain and suffering left me cringing at the thought of what he had been through as a toddler. Walking around on a broken leg for three weeks. That was a phrase that we verbalized numerous times as we shared what had happened to our boy.
As you can imagine, by now, thirteen years and nine bones later, we’ve familiarized ourselves with the routine. The initial pain and uncomfortable-ness is followed by a trip to the urgent care, which is followed by the diagnosis (insert the “REALLY?” question that I usually ask), which is followed by the cast, the signatures, the plastic bag tied with a hair tie in the showers, and the subsequent appointments. Finally there’s the demonstration that reassures everyone in the room that the saw that will remove the cast has a specialized sensor on it that absolutely will NOT allow your extremity to be cut off. Lastly, my child’s arm or leg is safely uncovered, pale and molted skin and all.
The most amazing thing about the entire process is that the healing always comes after treatment. When the casts are taken off, everything is back in its place. Good as new.
Parenting truth: Broken other things are not so easily fixed. Or diagnosed, for that matter. There’s no set formula or criteria to assess or follow when you are dealing with the intricacies of these little (growing into big) people’s hearts, minds and souls. Perhaps this is the most difficult part of our job as parents.
Yes, I believe it is.
These broken other things that are in our children are hard. Exhausting. Complicated. You fill in the blank. There’s a reason why this is so. We are raising them in a broken world, and the brokenness of the sin that so very much encompasses it. Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to completely understand everything we need to know as parents and just as impossible to “implement” a plan that will quickly heal all of the other broken things.
Casts just don’t work on everything.
We pray. We teach. We serve. We lead. We sacrifice. We love. We invest. We mess up. We really mess up. And then we mess up again. And we repeat it all over again.
And all throughout the process, it doesn’t get any easier to see other things broken in the lives of our kids. We ache for them and wish that we could just wish it all away and make all be better. At times we feel helpless, like there’s nothing at all that we can do.
In those moments, I have learned to remind myself of some certainties that keep me focused, and yes, even, content when everything in me wants my children to not be dealing with broken other things.
Broken other things are inevitable.
And because they are bound to happen, it’s not my primary job to try to keep them from happening. I’m not God, and I’m definitely not on my best “mom game” when I’m trying to pretend as if I am. Trying to control all things pertaining to my children’s lives just makes me fearful and fretful. Reminding myself that these things are inevitable, helps to get us through the situation at hand and also prepares me for the next one that may come at us.
Broken other things are for good.
Say what? There is seemingly nothing good about broken other things, I know. Pain, sometimes suffering, oftentimes sadness, and a host of other negative feelings and situations occur in the lives of our kids all because of these dumb broken other things. I hate it and if you’re a parent, you hate it, too. We want to protect our children from harm. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. What if we reminded ourselves that truly, these times are for their good? Forty plus years of real-life living has shown me that much growth comes out of broken other things; lessons are learned. God promises that these things will work out for their good and His glory (Romans 8:28), therefore I can take a deep breath. I can pray, look for and expect many good things to come from the broken ones.
Broken other things are opportunities.
There are some wonderful opportunities that come with broken other things in my kids. I can utilize these times to diligently seek my child’s heart—like, be intentional about it because they need me to be (and because I really want to be). We can have “teachable moments” that might not otherwise occur. I can point them to our good and gracious God who loves them even more than I do. And lastly, I can quietly, yet boldly, with authority as their parent, seek the Lord on their behalf knowing that His power, mercy and continued faithfulness in their lives are the very things that I’m banking on and truly resting in.
Isaiah 30:26 says, in part, that “in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.” This means that . . .
All the Lord's people will be one in his hands, and be entirely freed from all grievances and afflictions by the man of sin, who will now be destroyed, and also will be in a sound and healthful state and condition.[i]
There’s nothing more promising than that. Or amazing. Broken bones and other things will be back in place. Good as new. The ultimate healing plan for my children is Christ and no cast can compare to Him.