Questions to My Future Self (A Mother Wants to Know How It All Turns Out)

This morning I am checking in with my future self. I have to gently wake her, because it is 4:30 a.m., and she is no longer in the habit of waking with babies all through the night. When she sees me standing there over her bed in the dark, she doesn’t mind. She treats me as she would her own child, quietly getting up and following me to the kitchen table.

I have a pot of tea waiting. We take a sip of Darjeeling and set down our cups in perfect synchronization. She looks at me. She asks me what is on my mind.

I just hope I am doing this right, I say, half-embarrassed, even though it is me I am speaking to.

mackenzie chester, questions to my future self, motherhood, parenting, christian life

I half-hope she is going to tell me how it all turns out. How we navigated our way through the second decade of parenting, how homeschooling had indeed been the right route for our family, and how God had led us every step of the way. I want her to tell me that my children, who are sleeping in their beds at ages 12, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3, and 18 months are enjoying their future lives. That they love learning. That they love each other. That they love God. That they are living out the purposes for which they were each individually, uniquely created. I want her to tell me that we have beautiful, meaningful conversations with them at ages 22, 21, 19, 17, 15, 13, and 10. And that we have a bond that will never be broken.

I want her to tell me that this vision that I carry in my heart for my children is attainable, even though they have parents who are imperfect. In spite of my acute awareness of the great chasm between my wonderful, inspired intentions and the reality of our busy, needs-never-stop life. I want to know that we are moving in the right direction. Did they learn all they needed to know for their lives? Are they still learning and growing? Is it going to turn out ok?

I take a breath, and dare to look into her eyes.

She doesn’t speak. We both know she can’t answer my questions. We have agreed more than once that it is best not to know too much about our own future. Instead, she eyes my green bag, casually draped across the table. She reaches inside and pulls out my journal. May I? she asks.

Of course, I respond. She flips through the pages. I watch her face light up with long-forgotten memories.

This was a big year for you, she mused. Your year of creative fire. You showed your daughters how to be a mother and still connect deeply with your creative voice. You allowed them to serve you. I remember how hard that was for you, but how naturally they took on many of the responsibilities of your home for that season. Such a seed planted for their future, she said.

This was the year the bakery opened, wasn’t it? And you started taking the kids in pairs to spend the morning there? Oh, I loved those mornings when they were still so young. Eating cinnamon rolls, painting with watercolors and folding origami in the back corner of the cafe. Talking about anything and everything. They were so delighted to be there with you. Do you remember?

She continued to turn the pages. She stopped on August 26 of this year and sighed. Her eyes lingered over the words I had scrawled across the page in tear-soaked ink. This is the year we lost Mama. I remember how raw the ache felt then. I remember how your children gathered around you. How they learned to comfort you. I am so glad they were home with you. You showed them how to pass through the waters of grief with grace. And they showed you how to get out of bed when the sorrow was heavy like a weighted blanket. They woke you up each morning to joy and beauty.

I nodded my head, wiping my eyes. She turned the page and suddenly laughed through tears. You are going to have another baby! Oh, Mackenzie. If you only knew how much this child is going to be adored by all of you. How much all of your children will learn from this little one. Right now I know it seems surreal. But let me assure you, this child has a name and a future and without question belongs in your family. I have seen its beautiful face. Here she paused and laughed again. Your life will never be the same. And over the years to come, you will fall down on your knees over and over again, thanking God for his mercy in giving you this precious child.

By now I am sobbing. She is still turning my pages.

She stops on a prayer I scribbled down, asking God for vision, for wisdom, to guide me, to help me to teach my children the things they needed to know this day. Praying over their lives, their futures. That God would provide everything they need, that he would put the people and experiences in their paths that would shape them into the people he created them to be.

She pauses and lifts her gaze up to meet mine.

What is it? I ask.

She tells me that she, herself, has written an identical prayer just this week. I don’t have all the answers, she says. I am still praying over the lives of these children. The story is far from over. I am still walking in faith, still praying that God will do all of these things, answer all of these promises, that our children will not only be okay in such an uncertain world, but that they will be living lives that are beautiful and inspiring and leading others to the hope of Christ. Everything is not going to be easy. But there is joy and beauty in every season if you choose to search for it. There will be many more days ahead when you feel unqualified for the great responsibility of raising these precious souls. But God will use every detail of your life that you offer up to him. You can’t always see it now, but He is guiding you. He hears your prayers, and He is leading your family down the best pathway for your lives. These prayers are changing the course of your children’s futures. More than anything you teach them at the table. More than any book or curriculum. Never stop praying like this. God hears and honors these prayers. Do you trust him?

Do you trust him?

These words resonate in my soul. She knows it. She flips to the next blank page of my journal and nudges it toward me. She waits. I pick up my pen and write today’s date. In slow, careful letters, I write the question on paper: Do you trust him? And with each stroke, I imprint these words on my heart to carry me through the next season of raising these beautiful, precious, unique-in-all-the-world souls. I put down my pen and close my journal.

She smiles, stands, and says she needs to go before people start waking up for breakfast. I agree, give her a quick hug, and say goodbye.

I sit for a few more moments in the quiet, early-morning kitchen. I finish my pot of tea to a small chorus of back-deck birdsong, watching the sun rise on a new day. In the scattered golden and pink light of mercies-new-every-morning, I let my fears for the future go. I send them away on the wings of a little sparrow, who flies off into the distance and out of my sight.

And I make my choice.

Today, I will trust Him.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Jill says:

    Beyond beautiful .. I love this so very very much, Mackenzie!!