Written by guest contributor, Julie Tiemann
As I write this, it is T-minus 22 hours until we have to decide whether to send our children back to school in person for the fall or keep them home for virtual school. Like all parents in this position, we’re weighing the pros and cons, and we are considering both mental and physical health effects on our kids. And yet, I still feel unequipped to make this decision for my children; not because I don’t trust our ability to make a wise decision, but because
There. Is. Just. So. Much. We. Don’t. Know.
Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve had to make an important decision that could affect our children’s future. That part of parenting begins before the little rug rats even enter our world, especially for moms. Which pre-natal vitamin to take… Can I eat the deli meat if I heat it?... And which tests should I take a hard-pass on?
We think if we can just get the baby safely out into the world, the stress of decision-making will be alleviated, but it’s just getting started. New questions arise when they enter the world: To supplement feedings or not… Should I vaccinate… And if I don’t make their baby food, will they resent me forever?
With each phase of parenting, the decisions somehow feel weightier too. As those baby coos turn into words and phrases, and their squishy bodies turn into what resembles a small person, you realize keeping them alive is now only part of the equation. Now you have to actually parent, not just raise a child, but raise that child to be an adult. Each decision you make feels daunting when you consider the lifelong implications.
I remember as a teenager being terrified of missing God’s will for my life. I imagined God up in heaven, crafting this perfect plan meant just for me. If I even veered slightly from the perfect plan, that was it, the gig was up, no more perfect plan.
Thankfully, my theology grew up just like I did. I came to realize that the perfect plan was an illusion, but the Way Maker was very real. Instead of following a plan, I learned to follow Jesus, and I found His grace filled the gaps on whatever path I took.
And so, whenever I fear the choices I’m making for my children might not be the perfect ones, or when the brokenness of the world intercepts my best laid plans for them, I remember it comes back to simply following Jesus. My job is to trust that God’s love for my family is much greater than I can even imagine.
As I have labored over this decision for our children in community with friends who are also struggling to decide for theirs, I wrote this prayer. My hope is that if you too are facing a tough decision in your family’s life, this might give you words to pray, encouragement for your journey, and peace to know that no matter how weary we as parents may be, our Heavenly Father is not asleep. He is awake, and He is very near. “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:3
“O God, we come to You as seekers of Your wisdom,
knowing even Your capacity for understanding is beyond what we can imagine.
While we weigh things in earthly scales, balancing risks and rewards,
our only solace is in knowing You walk with us down every path.
Your promise to never leave or forsake us is the mantle that shields us as we must choose a path forward that has bends and curves that block our view.
As so many things divide Your people in this moment, we rest in the truth that we cannot be divided from You.
Great God, grant us Your wisdom to lead our families and communities well down whatever path we choose.
But as we go, may we remember the words of Jesus ringing in our ears, commanding us—not to be safe, but to love.
May we walk down whatever path we choose with hearts not burdened by fear, but consumed with love. “
Julie Tiemann lives in Roswell, Georgia with her husband Mike and their two middle school daughters. She is a freelance writer for faith-based organizations and small businesses, and when not singing at church or serving at Lighthouse, she’s camping or hiking with her family. She shares her thoughts on life, faith and parenting at julietiemann.com.