They are outgrowing my arms. I knew the day would come, when I cannot scoop them all so easily into my lap, into my embrace. Already, I have difficulty brushing my daughter’s hair, because I can barely see the top of her head.

I stood in the shower today and prayed, hard.  I do my best praying in there.  It is my cure to a sedentary prayer life.  I prayed, God, thank you, I’m sorry, help me.  I find these three thoughts apply well to everything, and they often come up as I think about what kind of mom I am.

Thank you for every. single. moment.

I’m sorry I blow it, repeatedly.

Help me do better tomorrow.

I think this is right, and good to pray.  But, our pastor said something that really hit home for me during Sunday school the other day.  He said, in times of trial, when things have gone awry with a child, the parents often ask in despair, “Oh, what did we do wrong?”

But that’s the wrong question entirely.

The fact is:  You brought that child into the world.  The end.  That’s what you did wrong.  You conceived this child into a fallen world, and he comes fully wired for sin.  Even when you do everything MOSTLY right, there’s enough WRONG in our DNA to throw it all off anyway!  Even if you don’t have complete meltdowns in the shower over your mistakes (who does that, anyway?),  you’re still not gonna get an A on this one.  You couldn’t help but mess it up from the start.  Sorry.  Not a very flattering view of things is it?

But, never fear.  God’s grace is here.

He does what we can’t.  He is perfectly patient.  Kind.  Merciful.  He knows exactly what their hearts require.  He fixes our mistakes, smooths out our wrinkles.  He is clear and just and mighty in all the ways they need.  He whispers into their hearts, into places we can’t reach.  He stirs them, calls them, keeps them.

I panic a little with each inch they grow.  When I have to crane to look over their heads, when my arms are too full to reach around them completely, I can’t help but cringe.  This physical reminder that they are quickly approaching the time when I will have little or no control in their life is inescapable. It scares me.  But, for all our fears, God has reassurances.  He reminds me:  it is not my embrace that keeps them steady and safe.  It is His

It’s always been His.

So rather than wring my hands and quake in fear that I have irrevocably damaged my children by dropping the ball (again), I will remember who is in charge here.  I will remember who is the Author of their faith, and Whose grace is covering my imperfect parenting.  I will remember that He is their eternal Father, and that trumps me and my earthly position any day of the week.

Still, I will do my best.  And when I fail (which I do, with great consistency), I will repent, confess, and try again.  I’ll keep my arms stretched around them, as far and wide as I can, but I will rest.  I won’t worry as time begins to crowd my reach.  They will outgrow my arms, it’s inevitable.

But they will never outgrow His.