If the saying, “You are only as happy as your least happy child” holds true, then the moment you welcome children or grandchildren into your life, you can say goodbye to peace and happiness as you have known it.

Simply because, at any given point, one of your offspring will be in the middle of one of life’s many trials that can bring physical, emotional, or financial anguish. And although we have fought and conquered many giants ourselves, we now are reliving these emotions as if they were our own. Yet, when we experience it through our kids’ lives, the pain can appear to be more intense and overwhelming.

If I had the power, I would envelop my children in a protective cocoon, shielding them from every ounce of worldly sorrow and distress that could wound their hearts. I would give them an infinite abundance of joy, laughter, and serenity, ensuring that the harsh and unkind aspects of this world never infiltrate their vulnerable minds.

When they cry, I want to wipe away their tears and magically give them immediate joy.
When they need direction, I want to give them a very clear map and tell them all possible pitfalls along the way so they will never get stuck.
When they feel afraid, I want to dispel every fear and be their unwavering pillar of courage and strength.

But here’s the transformative revelation I recently discovered, and it has been a game changer.
God does not want me to live life on the roller coaster of someone else’s emotions.
Even if it is my very own child.

I once heard my mom say, “It’s utterly ruinous to a parent’s heart to see your child unhappy. Whether they are five or fifty, the agony is the same.”
She shared with me that after my dad died, she found herself yearning to break free from the emotional turmoil she shouldered for her four children and eleven grandchildren. But, inevitably, one of the fifteen of us was constantly grappling with some form of hardship, and she bore the weight of our emotions as if she were living each struggle herself.

Two years ago, however, she called with the news that she had finally broken through the cycle of allowing our roller coaster rides to dictate her own peace. Though she still felt pained and emotionally invested in our lives, she was no longer held captive by the overwhelming sorrow that used to consume her.

I now know the secret to live in peace even though the heart of the one you love the most is hurting.
It is remembering this:
They are HIS first.
Although I may have birthed them, it’s ultimately God who has a plan for their life.

Does this mean my heart won’t ache when those I love are in pain?
Of course not.
Does this mean I stand by helplessly and watch as they traverse their own journey?|
Absolutely not.
It simply means I don’t have to ride the same roller coaster they are on.
It means I have to trust that ultimately they are in the hands of someone who sees what I cannot see and who is a far better comfort than I could ever hope to be.

Practically speaking, I remind myself of these three simple truths for their lives that give a peace that passes understanding:

  1. This too shall pass. Just as seasons change, so will their situation.
  2. Their depth of character and clarity of purpose are forged in the fire.
  3. Nothing is more powerful in the life of your child when they learn to trust that God is ultimately their source.

And finally, and perhaps the most impactful part, is to never underestimate the unshakeable power of a parent’s prayer. Sometimes that is all we can do in a situation. But it is the very thing that can move mountains and transform lives.

We long to protect those we love from all the hurt and pain life can throw at them. But ultimately, we must trust that they are God’s child and that He knows every intimate and tiny detail of their life. God has a master plan and a purpose for their lives. And ultimately, the challenges they face wind up being the very things that equip them to fulfill that purpose.