Hope is forever

Published 4:46 am Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Headlights of oncoming cars struggle through the mist on this grey December morning. The tall pines and magnolias along the road stand dressed in their greenery, as if an uncommon snow had never occurred. Oaks and sycamores stubbornly cling to the remnants of their summer foliage, while raindrops intermittently splash to the water logged ground.

As my hubby and I travel northward, the vegetation thickens and lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina dissipate with every mile. Not only the landscape of our area, but the landscape of our lives changed with one big blow. This thought causes me to reflect on all the things in life that bring us to a new place.

Those among us who have children know that parenthood is one of the most life changing experiences we encounter. Nothing prepares us for the magnitude of caring for a tiny, demanding little human. When my firstborn came onto the scene, waking in the middle of the night while I would rather be sleeping was one of the first clues that life, as I knew it, had vanished.

The challenges of childrearing are like childbirth itself. Times may get really tough, but with diligence and a lot of prayer the end result is so worth any pain. There were times when one of my children struggling through adolescence made me wonder how she or I would make it. My late husband and I tried everything we knew to do, and still the unacceptable behaviors continued.

Our precious daughter seemed bent on making decisions that would only wind up hurting her. When this smart girl got a room in the honors dorm her first year of college because of her high ACT scores, I thought things would finally change for the better. But sadly it wasn’t so. In a matter of weeks her roommate let me know she hadn’t seen her in a while. When I finally found her, she slammed the door in my face and said those famous words, “I’m 18, and I can do what I want.”

We had no recourse but to let this adult child feel the consequences of her bad choices. To leave a child who is going astray to his/her own devices is excruciatingly painful. Not many things compare to the utter heartbreak of seeing a loved one travel the rough, lonely road of rebellion.

But … there is always hope. I usually don’t share much about this challenging time in life. It is all behind me now, and the child we lost so much sleep over is a wonderful caring mother herself. It makes my heart sing to see the full circle her life has taken.

At this time of year especially, I ponder the choices I have made both good and bad. Do I have a few more in the good column this year? I hope so. But just as my love for my daughter never wavered whether she was making bad choices or rebuilding her life I’m so glad that God’s love for us never falters.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.