Scary stories from a lovely place
This morning at playgroup I was talking to another mum about how she raised her kids to be so lovely. You know the type – they are sweet and clever and quiet and cuddly and cute. I hope my kids turn out like hers. I asked how she had done it, did she think it was personality or was it upbringing? I think she was a little embarrassed by my suggestion that she had raised perfect kids (but she really has) and so answered, as every good Christian should, that it was just God’s grace.
This conversation reminded me of something that I’ve been wondering about for years about how God’s provision differs, and differs so wildly, for his people. I responded to my perfect mother friend, ‘what about those parents whose kids are wild? Has God not shown them grace’? Thankfully we were interrupted by a child and the awkward direction I had sent the conversation was diffused. Phew.
When Stephen and I realised it was so easy for us to become pregnant, not once, but twice, I knew that we were blessed/lucky. We have seen close up the heartbreak that struggling to have kids brings, and were happy to be spared this. I had gotten into the habit of saying that God had been very kind to me – and I used this term to refer to God’s financial and practical provision in my life, as well as the gift of Stephen, a stable upbringing and myriad other opportunities I have had due to the chance of my birth. After I became a mother it seemed natural to use ‘God’s kindness’ as an expression of how I felt about his easy provision of kids.
But it started to grate on me. If God had indeed been so kind to me (as he had), why then wasn’t he kind to others? Why wasn’t he as kind to me as he was to those who couldn’t have kids, easily, or at all? Why isn’t he kind to my friends who don’t know both their parents and daily feel their absence? Why isn’t he kind to people I know who have to scrimp and save even for basic things like dinner, education and clothes? Why do I have a cupboard full of food, a husband at work and children asleep, when others have none of these things? Why does he show grace to some of us, and give good things in abundance, but not to others?
In short, I ‘know’ the answer. I know that God’s blessings come in different forms and that trying to understand his provision with my puny brain is nigh impossible. But, really, I don’t know the answer, which is why I don’t say the ‘God’s kindness’ thing anymore. I don’t understand it.
If anyone has any thoughts, bring it.