A spring-fed creek cuts a quiet path through our valley, rambling over stones and through clumps of watercress and swamp lilies before ducking under the road in front of our home to join a larger creek at the edge of the field. The water that flows from our spring and creek eventually travels into a larger river and dumps into a nearby lake.
Growing up, our sons spent hours playing alongside and inside that creek. Boats made of leaves and sticks were launched from the little wooden bridge. Water scooped up in a discarded glass jar was examined for bugs and tadpoles.
I never cross that creek or stand on its banks without thinking about my children. Those memories are a gift.
The faith that carried me through days and years of parenting our boys is also a gift. I take this steady current of faith for granted, trusting it to keep me afloat, like those fragile leaf-and-stick sailboats of their childhood. I’ve dipped into my stream of faith a lot lately, holding it up to the light for closer examination, as I’ve watched a couple of my sons face personal trials.
Any parent knows that it’s one thing to tap into your faith and trust in God’s providence to sustain you during your own trials, and quite another to stand in faith while the child you love is in peril of drowning.
A dear friend and I have prayed for one another’s children over the years. It was easier when they were young, frolicking in the frigid creek, to believe those prayers were enough to protect them from the undercurrent of life. Now that they’re adults, we know the rocky patches are theirs to navigate and we pray even harder.
I learned a new word this week, one I can’t believe I’ve never heard before, since I’ve lived it with a passion all these 31 years.
“Storge” (stor-jay) in Greek refers to the natural love and affection of a parent for a child, and of siblings for one another. It’s an emotion that creates a familial bond, and it’s laid alongside the other types of love described in scripture — agape, phileo and eros (unconditional, brotherly and physical love).
According to its definition, storge love compels us to put the needs of one another above our own. It’s found in the Greek compounded with phileo; in English it is a call to:
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10
Putting a child’s needs above our own is usually not a problem for a devoted parent. We can do it to a fault.
But God showed me something important this week in my quest to figure out how to help, how to rescue, these sons walking a painful path. He impressed on me that perhaps the painful path is exactly where He wants them right now, that it’s part of the journey they need to take to get where He wants them to go — where I want them to go.
Can I accept that there will be wounds? Will I allow that the sharp rocks and undercurrents of life have a purpose — even in the life of my precious child?
The liquid faith I hold in my glass jar is littered with bits and pieces of debris from my own journey, collected in the difficult times and giving substance to the current that carries me now. I know I won’t leave the bank of that creek. In devotion, I’ll continue to put my sons’ needs above my own and to pray for a good outcome. But I can’t step into or block the course of their lives, not if I claim to trust God to bring good out of even this.
To honor my sons means to trust them to the one who created them, the ultimate act of storge.
Thank you, Ingrid. I was talking to my son who is going through a rough patch also, and your blog post came in time to ground me! Amen!
You’re welcome, Shanda. A hard lesson for me, since I’m a “fixer” and a “rescuer”. It’s easy to forget who’s in charge here!
Ingrid—I loved this post. It is soo hard to watch and pray as our children face the battles in their lives. I read something this week that suggested that perhaps these trials we face and seem so hard at the time are actually his tender preparation for the life he is creating for us on the road ahead and the person he is creating us to be–it put a whole different spin on it for me.
Thank you, Lynn. I believe God wastes nothing — even the tough stuff. We never stop being mothers, do we? Thank God He never stops teaching us new lessons!
You are such a good mother, friend!! God often doesn’t want us to fix does he? I am thankful for my mom and dad who have walked with me even in the midst of my struggles.
Oh, thank you, Tara. I have to continually remind myself who these kids really belong to, and ask their Maker to give me wisdom. So glad your parents (and mine) are along for the journey!
I wonder why we don’t hear more about storge. Rare is the time I hear of it either, so thanks for the reminder today. Now that I have adult children, I see that the younger years might have been easier after all. 😉 The physical stress may be greater when than you’re young, but you don’t have to worry so much about them making huge life-altering mistakes. We all definitely need prayers–both the kids and parents–throughout our entire lives. Great post, Ingrid.
Thanks, Lisa. With praying comes peace. I maybe haven’t changed anything, but God makes a change in me, and I trust for His work in them. It’s so hard to not try to be the puppet-master!