At Seventeen

He turns 17 today.

That little strawberry blond boy who once refused to nap.

Now, he’d sleep til noon each day if he could. A growth spurt perhaps?

Years ago he spent his days busy at play. Play is a child’s work.

He’d “tinker” and “figure” and invent new things. He could imagine for hours with tools and wood, building something from nothing, my bright, inquisitive son.

Mitch pitching for the Grand Rapids Flames

Anything even remotely round turned into a “ball” which he’d throw with amazing accuracy with his then-chubby left arm.

From the age of three, he’s had a love affair with baseball.

Playing it. Watching it. Talking about it.

But he never did like books.

A few years into our schooling, we discovered why.

Dyslexia.

A scary word, especially to a homeschool mom.

Many tears. And tutors. And patience. And prayers.

Yet, in the midst of the dis-ability, we discovered his ability.

And most importantly His ability.

“God is not worried.” My friend’s words to me repeatedly rang in my head.

So why should I waste my time fretting?

Because I am a mom. And I do not enjoy seeing my child struggle.

I want to shield him from pain. And heartache. And discouragement.

Yet, in the struggle we’ve seen determination. And progress. And peace.

Pain often gives birth to beautiful things.

It has proved true with other tinkering men who too had this disorder and gift. They have gone on to do great things in this world—Edison and Einstein and Alexander Graham Bell.

Patton and Churchill and Henry Ford.

A Christmas kiss from his cousin

And my son’s favorite: quarterback and fellow homeschooled athlete Tim Tebow.

Over a decade after discovering the gift, God is still not worried.

And my son— my still figuring and tinkering and batting and throwing son—is a delight to my heart.

Perfect he is not. But our perfect God uses his weaknesses and mistakes in life to teach me many things.

To love, but not to smother.

To guide, but not to push.

To model, but not to manipulate.

To not use his successes as a chance to pat myself on the back.

Nor his failures as a cue to beat myself up.

And to always allow for lots of grace. Grace which he must in turn also grant me for this is the first time I’ve been the mom of a teenage man-child.

A novice I am, still standing in the on-deck circle, not quite ready to send this one sailing just yet.

Yes, he turns 17 today.

And I turn another page in this heart-wrenching, hand-wringing, knee-bending, holy calling known as motherhood.

Father may we mothers place our children always in Your hands. You are God. We are not. Help us be humble about their strengths and grateful for their weaknesses. Take them where they need to go in order to live a life fully surrendered to You. Amen.

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