Friday, February 25, 2011

Messing Up My Kids?

Our first summer in Turkey Jose and I sent our kids alone on a circumcision parade. Andres was 5, and Camille was 2.

The celebration was for a neighbor boy. The patio of the apartment building buzzed with activity. A team of men fried donuts, which they served to the crowd. Musicians played a drum and shrieking clarinet. On the curb cars lined up behind a 1960’s red convertible. Ten year old Necati sat on the back of the convertible with his white cape and feathered turban. Neighbor kids and cousins crowded into the cars behind him.

Someone turned to me and said, “Aren’t your kids going?”

“Can I go with them?” I asked.

“No,” he answered. “There’s not enough room.”

I hesitated. How could I send my kids with people I barely knew? I didn’t even know where they were going. But I was anxious to fit in with the neighbors, and I thought people would think we didn’t trust them if we kept our kids with us. Andres jumped up and down, excited to go. So contrary to my cautious nature, I loaded him and Camille into a car and stood back.

The musicians got into the red convertible with Necati and played loudly as the cars drove off honking. I began to panic. Was I crazy? What if I never saw the kids again? What irresponsible mother would send her children off with people she barely knew in a country she’d just moved to? My own mother would kill me if she knew about this.

Jose and I went into Necati’s house, and a half an hour later the parade returned. Someone carried a hysterical Camille to me.

“She started crying the minute the car took off,” they said.

By the time we calmed Camille down, Andres disappeared. He’d gone with all the neighbor boys and men into Necati’s room for the circumcision. The door was closed tight. I wanted desperately to get my son out of there, but there was no way I could barge in and interrupt. Ten minutes later the door opened, and Andres bounded out laughing. I breathed a sigh of relief. Everything was o.k.

For me this circumcision story is a metaphor of learning to trust God to care for my children as we serve Him in Turkey.

When we moved here my greatest fear was that we were messing up our kids. After all, they didn’t have a choice in the matter. What were we getting them into anyway?

I still worry sometimes that growing up here could affect them adversely. They’re far from relatives and our home culture, but they don’t quite belong here either. Camille came home from the park the other day saying one of the kids called her a dirty Christian pig eater. “I think people talk about us, Mom,” she said.

Yet on another level I knew that God has called us here. He is faithful, and I can trust him with our children. The example of Abraham encourages me. He was ready to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord, but God provided a ram to save the boy’s life. Abraham had to fully release his son to God. He didn’t know the end of the story when he laid his son on the rock before the Lord. I want to have the same attitude of entrusting my children to God.

Since God brought us here, I know He cares for and blesses our children. For the most part they’re happy and well adjusted. They enjoy their friends and life in Turkey. God has taken our children under his wings. He has the best in mind for them, plans to bless them. All of his promises, which are true for me, are true for them also. He loves them more than I do.

If you have children, can you relate to struggling to trust God with them?

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