By guest contributor Erin Mashaw
Last year, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My immediate response was total fear. I knew pretty quickly this meant I would be having brain surgery, which made me even more terrified. As I began processing it with my husband and a few close friends, I started wondering how in the world I would tell my kids about it. They were 15, 12, and 9, so they were definitely old enough to know something was up.
As parents, we want so badly to protect our kids from every bad thing. And that protective instinct is great in most situations… but as our kids get older, it’s important to start talking through the hard things together.
As I prayed about my diagnosis and how to talk about it, I realized that in a strange way, this was a significant opportunity. For the rest of their lives, my kids would remember this season, this diagnosis, as something. So, I tried to think about what I would want them to remember about it.
-Would they look back and be hurt or angry because I kept all of it from them?
-Would they remember this as the season their mom walked away from faith?
-Or would they look back and remember that it was hard, but we all learned to trust God together?
I started to think of my diagnosis as something that could be a meaningful milestone in their faith as well as my own. It gave me perspective and helped me to see how important the moment was. Not because I needed to put on a happy face and pretend to be okay when I wasn’t, but because I needed to pull back the curtain a little and let them know that we all have struggles, doubts, and fears. And that God is big enough to handle all of it.
It was a chance to model for my kids how to trust God even when they’re afraid. It was a chance to show them that sometimes it takes our hearts a little while to get to that place of trust. And that’s okay.
So, we talked a lot about tumors. They saw me cry. We prayed together and then we celebrated God’s faithfulness on the other side of it. But we walked through all of it together.
And then when my dad passed away unexpectedly a few months later, we did it all again. We cried together, we prayed together, and we talked about how lucky we were to have had so many years with such an amazing Papa. That loss was so hard, but we grieved it together.
As my kids get older, I’m learning more and more that I can’t protect them from every hard thing. But I can walk through it with them. And even better, I can help them learn to trust God for themselves. Because He has promised to walk with them too.
Erin Mashaw writes with openness, vulnerability and a passion to help people know that they really can trust God no matter what. While she doesn’t really like pets and hates almost all sports, she loves Jesus, her husband, and their four kids. She tolerates the family dog, Albie.