“The Parenting Marathon”
By Carla McDougal
Nearing the mile marker, shock stuns my body. Another benchmark looms ahead. Is this reality or an illusion? Where did the time go? Approaching the goal seems surreal. With each breath I tell myself, I can do it. For twenty-six years I trained for this race. No stopping now!
I feel the need to rehydrate—from a physical and spiritual standpoint. Confusion clouds my mind. My stride weakens with each step. Thoughts of quitting spoil my concentration. Within seconds these words resonate within—Come on, you can do it! I recognize this inner voice of encouragement spurring me forward… the tenderness, the Lord’s perfect timing. All of a sudden, adrenaline kicks in and I…
pick up the pace. Reaching this mile marker ignites a sense of excitement, accomplishment, and sadness rolled into one emotion.
Breathing deeply I realize this leg of The Parenting Marathon is complete. The last of our four children graduated from high school and is moving on to college. Emotions pour in. The memory “recall button” seems stuck on auto play. As a mom, I fight the necessity of letting go. How can I move forward? How will this affect my everyday life? Fear of the unknown captures me like never before.
In the midst of these tangled thoughts comes a soothing whisper… a sweet voice eases my confusion. Remember, my child, to lay aside every weight, and the sin, which so easily ensnares you, run with endurance the race that is set before you. But, God… No excuses, look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. These words wash over me like a cleansing spring rain. In the blink of an eye my vision clears. Refocusing on God’s Word brings clarity to the goal. This drink of living water rehydrates my body, mind, and soul preparing me for what lies ahead.
In this moment I stand at a crossroad in the race. Do I hold back in The Parenting Marathon or with excitement embrace this new part of the course?
Without hesitation I cry out, “God, I am moving forward! I don’t want to miss a moment of Your plan. I recognize I need to focus my heart, mind and soul on You. Every morning rehydrate me with Your drink of spiritual refreshment. Fuel my soul with the nourishment of Your Word. Strengthen me through the Holy Spirit; for when I am weak You are strong. Thank you for carrying me through the low places and leading me to the high roads. This Parenting Marathon is Your planned race, not mine. May I never try to run the course on my own for I know this only leads to tumbles and falls. To You belongs the glory and honor.”
Some call this next leg of The Parenting Marathon—The Empty Nest. But, I choose to call it—The Place of Rest. The days of diapers, bottles, homework, carpool lines, piles of laundry, and family bedtime prayers are only memories locked away in the crevices of my mind. In all honesty, doubt and guilt serve as stumbling blocks in this section of the course. Did we teach her enough about Jesus? Is she ready for the real world? How many teachable moments did I miss through the years? Oh, these questions have the potential to ignite a damaging fire if not quenched by God’s Word and prayer.
With all this said, I choose to put my trust and faith in the one who holds the key to my child’s heart—Jesus, the author and finisher of her faith. I find the more I press into prayer, the more excited I become for this next leg of The Parenting Marathon.
A shift in scenery is expected during this next stretch of the course. Rounding this corner brings some unpredictable road hazards mingled with glimpses of God’s splendor. At this point my role as mom changes from the Daily Discipline Sprinter to a Long Distance Prayer Runner. This phase requires consistency, a listening ear and minute-by-minute intimate conversations with the head trainer and ultimate life coach—Jesus. Knowing I am not in control releases me to trust God’s plan for her life. A sense of relief soothes my aching muscles as the light of Christ illuminates each step of the way.
Taking a deep breath, I look into my husband’s eyes. Like salve on a wound, my heart is relieved. Linked together eases the pain of change. So, arm-in-arm we embrace this next mile marker. We call upon our Life Coach, Jesus, to train us as Long Distance Prayer Runners.
Immediately a spark of excitement burst into flames. Again God’s Word empowers me… Remember, my child, to lay aside every weight, and the sin, which so easily ensnares you, run with endurance the race that is set before you. No excuses, look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.
This spiritual nourishment replenishes my weary body. A second wind breathes life into God’s purpose and plan for The Parenting Marathon. Stretching my arms to the heavens I shout with joy… I surrender each one of my children to You, Jesus—The author and finisher of all of our faith. All of a sudden, I see in the distance a brilliant colorful scene on the horizon. A rainbow connecting heaven to earth. Tears flow. A smile appears. The blessing of God’s promise received.
––My Prayer Chair by Carla McDougal
Award-winning author and speaker, Carla McDougal founded Reflective Life Ministries in 2008. Her true passion is her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It humbles her to realize His love, grace, and mercy go beyond her understanding. She truly believes laughter is medicine from the Lord that breaks down walls and removes the masks in our lives. As a result, God has taken her around the world to encourage others to live every day for Him. Her latest book, My Prayer Chair, won multiple awards in 2013 and is now available in Spanish. Carla and her husband, Fred, live in the Houston, TX area and have three sons, one daughter, and two daughters-in-“love.” She smiles to think of the experiences God has allowed in her life to teach and remind her “He is in control.”
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