One of the annoying things I deal with my children is the moment they don’t ask me when they deal with problems.
“J, why do you stand still there? Have you finished your school work?”
“No, mama. I don’t know how to do this part,” he pointed out some math problems with his little finger.
“Why didn’t you ask? You know I would help you if you’d ask. If you never asked, h0w would you get help????”
And yeah, no, I didn’t ask with a loving expression, opening my arms wide open to console him because he was confused about something. No, I asked with a clear annoyed tone, because he was there, standing, doing nothing – all when the clock was ticking and the school hours were going to end!
In my reading about Samson in Judges 13, I came to a verse I never paid attention about:
Then Manoah prayed to the LORD and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” (Judges 13:8, ESV)
What a beautiful prayer of parents to be!
Manoah took the words of the angel to his wife to his account, considering them seriously and came to God for more guidance. His unborn child was said to be the one who would save the Israelites from the hand of the Philistines. What an important task, saving his nation from the wrath of the enemy!
This expecting father realized that his son would be a special one, and he realized he had no clue on what to do. What if your child predestined to be a king? What if your child planned to be a saviour? What if someone told you the child you’re bearing going to be someone important? Have you had all clues of what you’re going to do with him?
Manoah thought he didn’t have any clue about it all, thus he asked. He knew that the child was given by God – so Manoah asked God. Teach us, said Manoah. Teach us what we are to do with the child, because You Yourself told us this boy will be an important one, what should we do with him?
Many people become parents without prior knowledge of the baby they are going to have. We entered marriage with big expectations but very little preparation and we take the simple way thinking that parenthood will grow on us as the child grows up. By the time the child enters a certain age and brings us frustration (that comes from the lack of knowledge of the child and parenting itself) we start to realize that no, we don’t know anything, we can’t do it right, we need some help here, real help!
I entered motherhood that way. I was very happy that I finally had a son. After a grueling process of labour, he was finally here, in my arms. I ignored his loud cries, thinking that it was pretty normal that he had a loud voice. It was like music in my ears, the ugly and yet most beautiful baby, my own blood and flesh, here so close laying on my breasts!
After a few days, I realized that this is not a motherhood I’ve imagined I would have. I was somehow well prepared to have a loud child – I was a handful myself, and my parents made sure I knew it very well. But this child was too loud, he was too panicked, he was too hysterical. He took every fiber of sanity out of me.
My mom suggested this, my mother in law suggested that, my fellow young mom proposed books to read. But my stubborn heart refused every advice. I listened to the arrogant brain who told me I could handle him. It will be OK. I was a good mom. Well, perhaps I could be a good mom, if only I asked.
Asking questions is not as simple as it seems. Just like my children who preferred to keep silent instead of asking for my help (perhaps he thought I would refuse his request, perhaps he thought I was busy, or he simply wanted to play instead of doing his work) – we adults have problems as well in asking questions when we are faced with problems.
My dad would rather be lost in his way searching for a new address, better than asking a stranger of which road he should take. My mom would fail in containing her frustration because of this (I understood her, we were lost for almost 30 minutes and there on the street were plenty of people to ask!), and they would end up in an argument before my dad finally gave in and stopped the car and asked. I thought it was only him, but apparently my husband was the same. Hail tomtom and later Google Map, who saved our marriage from being too early cracked!
What is this stubbornness of not asking – I don’t know. Perhaps we’re afraid to be found incompetent. Or we’re scared to get rejection. Or we don’t want to be seen as needy. Or we are simply too proud of ourselves and refuse surrendering the control to the helper. There are many factors!
But for sure we need to see and re-analyze our situations. Is what I’m facing now important? Is it urgent? Am I really competent in doing this job? Do I know enough to execute this work? Can I let my hesitations to ask outweigh my needs of information?
The moment we understand the importance of our task is the moment we can be truthful to ourselves and review our strength and resources. When we know which area is lacking, we can actively look for more knowledge and understanding.
It took me years until I admit that I need help and wisdom outside myself in raising my children. When my son was 4 years old we realized that his speech delay affected his formal education more than we wanted to admit. It was true that his first elementary school was basically filled with unhelpful teachers, but it was true also that he needed more than we provided at that time. Extending our hands to get helped was definitely difficult, and we actually got ourselves in the wrong turn and received more troubles than being helped.
The second year my son was in elementary school, it was very despairing. We received the news that I had to undergo my second surgery and the school decided to stop helping my son and he had to go to a special school for children with delays. That’s when I was literally bent on my knees, praying and begging for help from Heaven, for wisdom on what to do with my son. We were aware of the possibilities that once he entered special education, he might never get out of the ‘special needs children’ labels. It was really the time that every single day, every single step we should take, I came and prayed for an answer, “God, what should I do now? Whom to contact? Which school should we visit? Should I give up this fight and let him go to special school?”
Amazingly we were able to get out of that mess. We moved my son to another school, we continued his therapy, and four years (and three surgeries later, hehe) he blooms and is able to overcome his difficulties.
There are two situations where you know you need help: when you’re trapped in troubles, and the later which is actually more important – when you know you’re handling something precious and important. Parenting should start with a cry for help from God. No one has the experience to parent a child before she/he had the child in her arms for the first time. Unless someone had prior experience in teaching before they had a child, perhaps then they have what knowledge in handling a child. But still, between teaching at school and raising your own children is still different.
Only when we realize how important our children are, the great potentials in their future, and how big God’s plans are for them – only then we would humbly come to God to fulfil our inadequacy as parents. Rest assured, He is a God who always helps and provides when His children come to Him for directions.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding faults, and it will be given to you.” (James 1: 5, NIV)