A 9/11 birth and a coronavirus graduation: How God redeems all he allows

Written by Paige Mayhew
Published on May 29, 2020

Boy, do I hate snakes. 

As a boy momma, I have had to accommodate a few of them over the years. But as a rule, I am not a fan. I know everything the Lord created is good—he says so. But I am not sure snakes are high on his list either. 

I mean, there was the whole deceiver in the garden thing, where Satan came in the form of a snake. And you can bet the farm that I would do everything in my power to avoid Satan and a snake, all at once. 

An end with less

Just this morning, I encountered a snake as I was dropping off a bag on my friend’s porch. I did not see the little devil on my way up and shrieked when I saw him slither by me in the grass. I caught my breath, circled back for one quick pic (boy momma here), and carried on with my walk. 

As God often does on my walks with him, he opened my eyes and heart to two things: his care in my life and our need to always be on guard against the enemy

You see, I have been trying to get my head and heart around what is about to happen. My oldest will be graduating from high school tonight. And I am a hot, volcanic mess of emotion. 

I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m angry. 

This anticipated moment is one of the greatest joys I have experienced as a mom. Senior year began with everything I thought it would be and more. And yet, it has ended with not one of the things I thought it would offer and less

Honestly, the enemy caught me off guard.

Black hearted words

I have been wanting to write about it. 

There is so much to say about the insanity that has invaded our lives. All of it has felt like shackles in my mind. I can be a verbal processor, but mostly I process the complexities of my own heart hurts and lessons through writing. 

Though this time, I just haven’t had the words to describe my emotions. Or maybe I should say, I haven’t had the right words. I have had plenty of words—black hearted words. 

I have had words the Bible labels as “unwholesome and corrupt.” I admit it. 

I have not handled the last few months well, another thing that has caught me off guard. I guess I envisioned myself responding like one of my greatest heroines, Corrie Ten Boom. Sadly, I have behaved more like Monica from Friends.

The joy of a football mom

Rewind to last August. 

Our oldest plays football. Y’all know a thing or two about Texas high school football—intense

For years I have secretly wished that he would give it up for something safer. Season after season, I have half-heartedly attended and watched my son play. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see him play. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to support his great team. I just did not want to see him miss a tackle or mess up on the field. And I surely did not want to see him get hurt. 

But this year, I laid those fears and worries right at the feet of Jesus and asked him to give me the courage and joy of a football mom. He did not disappoint. I embraced it wholeheartedly. Wow, was it a blessing to trust him through every game, win, and even our last gut-wrenching playoff loss. 

Have you noticed that there are always unexpected blessings when you trust God? 

The unexpected blessings for me this fall included: the friendships I built and strengthened with my fellow football mommas; the sweetest family-led prayer times before every single game (sometimes including the opposing team’s families); and the cherished connection I made with my son. 

Crushed expectation

If you would let me, I would highlight every single moment of this celebratory year—right up to the part where it all went away. 

One day, my heart was soaring at the expectation of what the last quarter would hold for our family. The next day, we woke up to lock down and all of our expectations were crushed. 

COVID-19, quarantine, and senior event after senior event—hijacked. 

And so, here I have been, sitting in my grief, my son’s grief, and the grief accompanied by a dear friend’s sudden cardiac arrest and death. 

In my hurt, I have often envisioned the enemy whispering in the ear of his minions, “sweep the leg,” as it surely has felt like he has. Maybe you have felt this way too. Whether it has been through COVID-19 or some other unforeseen upending, we know life sometimes gets hijacked and the resulting grief overwhelms.

His grace is real

As Christ Followers, we do have hope. I know this. And I know you know this. 

Hope is an anchor that never wavers. I pray it does not waver for you. 

It is the tension between the now and the not yet that has felt overly pressured during this season. As a counselor, I know all the right ways to help me process and reframe what I have been feeling. 

The struggle has been real. I hope you hear me say that I get that struggles are real. Your struggle is real (I know because I have spoken with many of you).

But let me just allow this quiet breeze to blow over you and me—so is the grace that he bestows. His grace is real

It allows me to extend grace to my own heart and grace to others. It allows me to grieve. It allows me to stay quiet when I do not have the right words so as not to bring dishonor. His grace allows me to trust him in my sadness and pushes me to read his Word when my rebellious heart would rather not. And it allows me to know it is OK when I cannot. 

His grace allows me to pray honest prayers and to confidently share about our hope—Jesus. 

It allows me to recognize and express gratitude amid struggle. 

From September 11 to COVID-19

In one of these moments, moments spent embracing God’s grace, he reminded me of his perfect and sovereign plan for our lives and the lives of our children. 

Remember, this Class of 2020 came into our world during turbulent and unsure times. Just like many of you, I remember details of September 11 with vivid clarity. 

I was two weeks away from delivering our first son, our 2020 graduate. And like our recent germy-pandemic scare, fear was front and center. 

Every single US flight was diverted out of the air and airline travel shut down for weeks. So much was unknown. 

I remember feeling an incredible sadness that our son was being born into such fragile and fretful times. In God’s grace, he reminded me in 2001 that there have always been uncertain times for God’s people. And he reminded me that he would never leave or forsake his children. 

From September 11 to COVID-19, these 2020 graduates have been bookended with tragic uncertainty. I have no doubt in my mind that the enemy has been working in his best, worst way to thwart God’s plan. 

But nothing can stop his plan from unfolding. Even when it does not make sense to us, we can trust in his plan, provision, and protection. 

A grace sufficient for our pain

Parents of 2020 graduates, please do not miss that our kids must have something incredibly special to share with our broken world, if the enemy is going after them with this kind of vigor. 

I believe God has equipped, and will continue to equip, our graduating class as warriors for his purpose. That dumb snake on my walk today is a great reminder to me as a mom. 

Stay on guard

It is a life lesson we can teach our kids. We can also trust that whatever the locusts (or murder hornets) have eaten, he will restore. 

I am thankful God is in the business of restoring hearts (Psalm 147:3; Psalm 34:18). He is restoring mine through redeeming all that has been hijacked (Joel 2: 25). 

And I am certain that he holds all the tears from these days (Psalm 56:8). I know he wants us to walk in faith and not in fear (2 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Timothy 1:7). He wants us to live abundantly (John 10:10). I know he cares (I Peter 5:7). 

And most of all—I know his grace is sufficient for my pain and for yours (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Live perfectly imperfect

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Paige Mayhew

Paige Mayhew is a licensed professional counselor.
She is currently staying home to enjoy and manage her household of men. She and her husband, Haynie, have been married for twenty-one years and have three teenage boys: Chaz, Luke, and Trey.
The Mayhews have also been Shepherds of a Bible Fellowship class at their church for sixteen years. Paige has also served on the board of trustees at Prestonwood Christian Academy, where her boys attend school.
She loves to volunteer (mostly for the relationships!), and she is passionate about using her spiritual gifts and encouraging others to understand and use theirs.
Paige is grateful for the moments to exercise the joy of writing.

Read more about Paige

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