Seriously: I. Was. Not. Okay.
It was 96-degrees the day we moved our twins into their dorm rooms, but my heart felt like a block of ice. Back and forth to the car I trudged, as if it were the end of the world.
My boys were leaving home. Leaving the nest. Leaving me.
As we bought college supplies at Walmart, fear set in. And after we said goodbye, I cried buckets in the car—as if I would never lay eyes on my precious boys again.
By the time we made it to our hotel late that night, I was wrung out. Physically and emotionally spent.
My husband and I sat down wearily in the hotel’s restaurant and ordered. While we waited for our food, we whispered back and forth to each other.
Are our boys ready for college?
What if they make bad grades? Or bad choices?
Will they be okay without us?
Soon, our conversation turned into a ginormous parental meltdown.
Ever had one of those? Yeah, I thought so.
Just as I was on the verge of gnashing my teeth, the night manager came by our table and asked what brought us to Mississippi.
“Betty” was engraved on her name tag.
She was a tall and rather large African-American woman who seemed to possess a larger-than-life spirit. She had one of those faces like I wish I had—the kind that smiles, effortlessly.
When she noticed the tears in my eyes, her smile melted into a look of genuine concern. Betty pulled up a chair and asked what was going on.
Now usually, I don’t share my problems with complete strangers. Or for that matter, hotel managers.
But for some reason, it all came gushing out. Old fears. New fears. How I’ve been praying for my kids, but was terrified of letting them go. I went through a bunch of “what if’s” and “if only’s.” And a flurry of far-fetched, panicky notions.
I’m sure Betty wished she’d never asked.
She listened patiently. Then she patted my arm and smiled. “Come on now, you ain’t the first worried parent out there. I’ve been there myself.”
Her eyes seemed to darken as she stared at me quietly. I felt strange, as if she were looking through my eyes into my anxious soul. “You gotta believe,” she said in her rich Mississippi vernacular, “that the Lord—He got it.”
“He got them boys. He’s got you. Can’t you see it? Trust Him—the Lord’s got it all in His hands. Somehow, I know it’s gone be alright.”
Kindness shimmered in her eyes as she wrapped me in a bear hug. Then she whispered, “The Holy Spirit in my heart told me to come over here and love on you. Yo’ job is to pray and then act like you’re praying for your kids. Live like God hears you. Like He’s working on the situation.”
“I know it’s hard, but remember: the Lord, He got it.”
The hair stood up on the back of my neck.
A strange kind of church seemed to break out in the lobby of the Hilton.
Although the words came from the mouth of a stranger, they sunk in, soul-deep.
I sensed God’s Spirit speaking to me through Betty and somehow, I knew my boys would be alright.
In Betty’s words, I heard the Lord saying: “I’ve got it.“ Encouraging me to act like I’ve prayed about it. To believe He hears me. To live each day trusting that God is watching over my children.
Later we went up to our hotel room, got on our knees, and repented for having so little faith. For acting as if prayer made no difference at all. For praying one minute and giving in to fear the next. We thanked God for speaking through Betty and for lifting two weary parents’ hearts.
When we left Mississippi the next morning, we felt much lighter. And though our faith was stretched that first year of college, the twins did survive. And we did, too.
Perhaps you’ve been praying for your kids for a long time, but now they’re facing difficulty.
Maybe you’re frustrated because you don’t see the Lord’s answer (Jn. 5:17). Remember: HE IS AT WORK.
It may be tempting to think that God isn’t listening to you (Ps. 34:15). Remember: GOD HEARS YOU.
It might seem as if the Lord isn’t working for good (Rom. 8:28). Remember: HE’S GOT IT!
If you’re struggling in prayer for your kids right now, I understand. I struggle, too.
Sometimes, it helps me to repeat Betty’s words to my husband after we’ve prayed. Sometimes, I smile and pray her words back to God. And I say them out loud to myself on tough days, just as a reminder.
As you’re praying for your kids today, combat your fears by saying this truth out loud: HE’S GOT IT.
Hold on to this promise:
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Phil. 4:6-7 MSG
Trust that God hears your prayers, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
Believe He works on behalf of your children, even though you cannot see it.
Remember your children are wrapped in His loving arms. And so are you.
As you pray for your kids today, don’t make the same mistake I did. Believe each prayer makes a difference. Live out your day, as if God’s at work. Remember it’s ALL in His hands. Can’t you see it?
The Lord, He got it.
*This story in this post is an excerpt from chapter 8 of my book, Seeking a Familiar Face