“Your kids are not yours. God owns them. Quit stealing!”
When our three children were growing up, I found this statement in a magazine. Because I wanted to remember it, I cut it out and taped it inside my weekly planner. Those of us who are parents know – in our head – that our children don’t belong to us. We have to remind ourselves of it all along, but that reality takes on a new meaning when our children are leaving the nest. That’s when our hearts understand it.
My Mom’s heart understood that very well, and her attitude towards my leaving her and Dad when I was engaged to marry Jorge – whom I had never met – and move to Argentina left a lasting impression on me. I can still hear her words…
There was a dear elderly man in our church for many years who we all affectionately called “Uncle Pete”. When he was young, Uncle Pete Krstch left “The Old Country” and immigrated to America. Having lived here for so long, he came to appreciate everything our great country offered him, and he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to live anywhere but here, in the Good Ol’ USA. Knowing the plans Jorge and I had to live in Argentina, Sunday after Sunday Uncle Pete would try to convince me that we should live here. The conversation would go something like this: “You should get Jorge’s papers fixed up and live here in the US.” I would invariably reply, “No, Uncle Pete, we’re going to help out in the church in Argentina.” He just didn’t get it until one Sunday when Mom happened to be standing there. After our “You ought to…” and “No, Uncle Pete…” routine, he turned to her and said: “Helen, you tell her to get Jorge’s papers fixed up and then they can live here.”
And then it happened. I found out that Mom gave me back. She firmly and unwaveringly said: “Uncle Pete, God gave Kathern to me for 23 years, and now I’m giving her back to Him.” Needless to say, the conversation never came up again with Uncle Pete because Mom intervened on my behalf. I recalled the incident often since then, but I never truly appreciated the concept until our children left to be on their own. I’ve learned how freeing it is to give our children back to God, and to trust Him with their lives. I understand now that our kids never were ours. They always belonged to God, who loves them infinitely more than we ever did and ever will. Thanks to Mom, I’ve learned that one of our responsibilities in raising them is…to give them back to Him!