I do not believe the saying that hindsight is 20/20 because even when you look at the past, you’re looking at it through the filter of memory itself, emotions, and a skewed lens of life. Still, we all get caught in the trap of self-analytics, and Satan can use this to lead us to question God’s call and our purpose on mission.
Comparison leads us to question ourselves.
This happened recently to me as I read an article about Third Culture Kids* and the statistics on abuse, mental illness, and neglect. This was especially geared toward those who were raised by parents who were in mission service. It didn’t paint a pretty picture, so of course, I immediately thought about my boys. To their mother’s eyes, they seemed relatively normal or stable, but had they suffered harm while growing up overseas? Had we neglected them in any way? Was I blind to their personal experiences?
Instead of trying to look back with my narrow vision, I did what any mother would do—I texted my sons.
It’s good to question doubt.
From my point of view, I couldn’t see it, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. After all, we had moved often during my boys’ younger years, put them in a variety of schools, and uprooted them just when they were the most settled and happy. Maybe they were suffering.
I copied the link to the article and sent it to them, asking for their opinion, which they each gave with insights particular to their character. I followed up with the comment that the article gave me a lot to think about and I trusted they felt love in our home and would talk with me about any trials. It was a volley of a rhetorical nature, though inwardly I hoped it spurred a response. As usual, my sons taught me two lessons about how to counteract trials on the field.
Give your children a strong understanding of their identity as children of God.
I think that response floored me, and I give my late husband all the credit for this point. Not only are we called to make Christ known to the nations, but we, as parents, carry the responsibility of making Him known to our children as well. The witness we gave was not just something done outside of our home or with locals, but with the true locals—our children. I think of the nights we prayed with our boys before they slept. I remember talking to them about why we were living in a certain place or having to move to another country. As my boys made Jesus Lord of their own lives, I spent time discipling each one, just as I would a new national believer. Their father was wonderful about spurring conversations about what they were reading in the Bible. Who they would grow up to be was always about what God was wanting to do through their lives.
Make your children feel super loved and continue to love them.
This second response spoke volumes. Whatever trials or heartaches my sons endured; they knew their parents loved them. They were never denied our attention or time. Even when ministry got busy and people were in and out of our house, we would stop and listen. I mended cuts, hugged them when they cried and made them say sorry to each other. Though he traveled a lot in ministry, Raouf always came back with something for his boys. They knew, even when they couldn’t talk with him, that he remembered them and went out of his way to get them something special.
I write this post on a day that is the birthday of one of my sons. He’s far, far away in another part of the world. Last night I stayed up as long as I could, so I could call him—I still woke him up—but he got to hear his mom sing the “Happy Birthday” song to her baby, tell him she wished him a beautiful day, and then to go back to sleep.
Do we make mistakes as parents in our effort to serve the Lord? Absolutely. Do they sometimes pay the price for the choices we make? Absolutely. Can we prevent harm and hurt from touching them? Hardly, but we can teach them to rely on the One who never slumbers or sleeps in his care for them while being a parent who loves their children through it all.
Grace and Peace
*Third Culture Kids are children whose birth parents are from one country, but they are raised in another, leading them to have a sense of belonging to a third culture that isn’t completely either one.