Parenting as a Stewardship Opportunity
My opening line of many parenting workshops has been, “I thought I knew everything about parenting, and then I had a child”. I want to take a moment to share how I believe I was given a stewardship opportunity by God that transformed my life and impacted the lives of others as well. After being married for 6 years, Greg and I were blessed to find out we were expecting a baby who would be born in April of 1979. Katie burst into our lives with an infectious smile and healthy, spirited zest to meet and conquer the world. Three short months later, all of that changed after a damaging inoculation left her with no muscle tone, no more verbal banter and no eye contact. As you can imagine, we were devastated. The most difficult part was that no medical personnel would give us the support or guidance that we needed to be able to move forward. Because my background was in education and counseling, I thought I should have the answers needed to help her and find the qualified professionals we needed to advise us. We constantly heard that we were overreacting and misunderstanding her needs and that she was just developmentally delayed and would be fine. Greg and I both knew that wasn’t true. We were both there the night she suffered her debilitating reaction and watched her change right before our eyes.
Years of frustration in searching for assistance were coupled with unconditional love and support from family, friends and the power of prayer. I was often very angry and extremely sad, probably grieving over the loss of a healthy child. I was confused why this happened to my little girl. With every kind touch of someone’s hand or unexpected smile or hug when I was embarrassed by her odd behaviors, I was comforted. I began to realize that I was spending more time searching for answers and accountability and very little time enjoying the beautiful daughter I had been given. It was like a switch had been flipped and a bright light came on. The more we began to enjoy and accept her, the more “acceptable “she became. I don’t believe that God is responsible for what happened to Katie but I do believe that God’s immeasurable love was always present in our lives while we struggled with our parenting journey. Other people began to comment on Katie’s remarkable accomplishments which often still amaze us as well. We were so blessed to have been given the gift of becoming parents and never take for granted that we are only stewards of all that we have been given. As parents, our children will disappoint us, make us proud, embarrass us and give us such a sense of joy that it is often indescribable. Thanks be to God for all of these blessings.
~ Jill Schumacher - church member