Ownership – it’s a funny thing human beings have struggled with since Adam and Eve. Since Creation we have never had enough. It is the desire to have more that led Adam and Eve to pick the forbidden fruit. It’s greed, one of the seven deadly sins, that often leads to mortal sin and crimes of slander, theft, assault, and even murder.
It’s easy for us to look at such sins and dismiss them as beneath us. We would never murder for financial or material gain, but could there be more to it?
Satan is a cunning creature. He realizes he can’t get to most of us through the draw of money for murder and that most of us abhor the idea of physically slaying another human being, but what if Satan draws us to greed more subtlety? We toss around the word “my” to show ownership, but what is it that actually belongs to us?
Is it really my car? My home? My retirement? My marriage? My children?
Six years ago, I was married to my husband, the man I thought was my love and my best friend, when I unexpectedly got pregnant with my fifth little boy. That’s a lot of my’s in there! It is amazing how, in a very short time, perspective changes, and I realized how little actually belongs to me.
The pregnancy left me very ill, and there were concerns for the baby’s health as well, and suddenly, with just a week’s notice, my husband left. To say the experience was earth shattering would be putting it mildly. Over the next few years, a lack of enforceable child support caused my home to be lost in foreclosure, and my boys and I had difficulty finding housing. State licensing laws made my teaching certification invalid despite my Master of Arts in Curriculum Development. My retirement was virtually wiped out. My healthcare was gone. My free time was nonexistent. My husband, the man I depended on, laughed with, loved completely, was a stranger.
Worst of all, my children were no longer mine and now had to be handed over to this stranger. One of the hardest experiences of my life centered around the thought of handing over my nursing infant for every other weekend visits. At the time, I thought that, while I might not have a lot left in this world, those were MY children, and I worried about how my husband and his live-in girlfriend were corrupting the morals of those five precious boys in a way that was incomprehensible to me.
Five years later, I’m still not thrilled to hand my boys over, but doing so has taught me several things—among them patience, humility, strength. Most of all, I am slowly coming to understand in a way most people cannot that there is very little that truly belongs to us. Even our children are not our own. They belong only to the Lord, their one perfect parent. It is our job to raise them, to teach them, to lead them to the Lord, but their safety, physically, emotionally, spiritually, is never guaranteed—even in our presence. Only God can guarantee that, just as only they can one day choose, through their own free will, to follow the Lord or to follow those who choose to sin grievously and repeatedly.
The only thing that truly belongs to us is the free will to embrace or reject Faith, Hope, Love, and Truth. These are gifts we bestow on our children, but the children themselves are gifts to us from the Lord, and therefore do not belong to us. The Bible tells us:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers: all good giving and every perfect gift—is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1: 16-18)
Everything, even our most prized possessions and dearest loved ones, belong only to God. I cannot say I don’t still worry about my children following in their father’s footsteps or that I don’t still miss them when they are gone, but I do now understand that they must go. I know I am only borrowing them, as is their father, and that God has given them the free will to make their own decisions. It is God alone who can hold them close and it is to Him I now hand them over to, not just every other weekend, but every day.
Even when our journey is slow and imperfect we must learn to be less concerned with what belongs to us and to hand everything over to our Father, to submit to His will, especially when it concerns those we most Love and want to protect.
I love my children with an imperfect love. God the Father Loves them much more than I can imagine. My children are truly His!