Mirror, Mirror: How Our Children Reflect Our Spiritual Condition

One of the aspects of becoming a parent that no book prepared us for was the way our children are a living mirror to us of how we must look to God (except that God is patient and loving, and we are, well...). I was prepared for the kids to come with all manner of bad habits and lack of manners, but when you're living with it - day in and day out - the frustration mounts as you repeat over and over again, "Say thank you, stop whining, don't hit your sibling, how many times to I have to remind you to flush the toilet..."

Very early on in this journey, Peter and I were talking about ideas to put an end to the whining, and during our conversation I found myself saying to him, "Ugh. This is so hard! I don't want to do this anymore!" {Insert pregnant pause} And then we both glanced at each other before I said, "You know, for as much as we hate whining by our kids, you and I sure do a lot of it!" Mirror, mirror. Reflections of ourselves.

This spring, after one particularly good section of time (when everyone had been given new things, everyone was happy, no one was fighting, and Peter and I kept pinching ourselves to see if it was real), three of our children informed us that they wanted to go back to their birth country. One wanted to go back now. One wanted to go back with a sibling. And one wanted to go back - but only after all the fun events that were coming up over the next year took place. The point was, by the time the third child said, "I want to go back... can we go back to..." I was ready to throttle them all.

I wanted to shout at them, "WHY?! You ungrateful little twirps!! There's no one back there who cares about you or loves you like we do! You had no freedom, no opportunities, no actual friends. You didn't have an amazing extended family or Church family like you do here. What in the WORLD do you have to go back to that's better than what you have now?!" Now, bonus point for mom, I held my tongue, nodded my head, informed them - calmly - that when they were 18 they were welcome to go wherever they could afford to travel, and continued to drive them to their various schools and activities (with a marvelous attitude, of course!).

Later in the day I was venting to Peter via text message, and God proceeded to give me an out-of-body experience. I read what I was writing, I thought about what I was saying and how the kids were responding so poorly to grace and generosity and love, and I began to chuckle. You see, I've lost count of how many times over the last few months I have said to God (and to Peter), "I just want my old life back.Mirror, mirror. Egypt was so much better. 

This journey of obedience has given me more understanding of those stubborn Israelites. Almost five years ago, God began to answer my prayers to be led out of the spiritual desert and do something with my life that would make an eternal difference; but during that time, I have whined (see above), complained, and longed for the easy life - the one that I had been praying would end. When God brought us all the way to the end of the official adoption process and real life with 5 kids began, my wails of frustration and fear switched to whiny statements about how much better it was before, and how I wanted to go back to the way it was, and regularly saying, "I want my old life back."

Last month, God stopped me in my tracks. God used three children who were not grateful for what they had been given, and expressed a desire to go back to what - by all human standards - was a sad, dysfunctional life, with no hope for the future. In their wistful pleas to return to their former life (a.k.a. Egypt), I saw myself - rejecting what God has given me, ungrateful for the opportunity to rely completely on Him and grow in my faith. For much of my forward journey, I've been casting one eye backwards, longing for the life I left - despite the fact that I am much more God-reliant now (something I wouldn't trade for anything).

People ask me if there's anything about being a parent that I enjoy, and I can definitely say that yes, there is, but it might not be what you would expect. I'm grateful for my role as a parent because I see myself reflected in my kids, coming face-to-face with my own struggles and sin on a daily basis. I'm thankful as a parent to be feeling the regular pull of the Holy Spirit to change, open and honest in my mistakes so the kids can see changes in me, and  eventually desire to hand their own life over to God. Mirror, mirror: may my mirror cleanly reflect the God who brought me on this journey.


  1. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your words and experience, Carrie.

    1. Jessica, I found you through Carrie, and am excited to see you on here following her/their experience!


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