Some of us are chronic list-makers — the kind who write down a task we already completed, just to cross it off. Lists bring a sense of accomplishment. Lists keep our brains organized. Perhaps most importantly, lists are essential to remembering the details of life that our aging brains can no longer keep track of.
Failing memory is the motivation behind a new list that might be worth your time. The lines on this list are far more important for mothers to remember than the tasks that need to be done today.
List for Every Mother
My list began when my oldest daughter was about four years old. I thought she was with my husband, who was making his way across a busy parking lot. He thought she was staying with me. We were both wrong. She was by herself trying to follow daddy across a busy street. I looked up just in time to see a car stop a few feet from her as she calmly walked along.
That moment was worth cataloging.
So was the time when my child fell into a pool, and we were close by to quickly pull her out. Or the time when the pool gate was accidentally left open, and no toddler wandered in. Then there were the times when kids were inches from seriously hurting their heads, or were moments from being hit by large falling objects. All of those days could have gone very differently than they did.
Ultimately the list is a record of times, incidents, and moments in which things could have gone terribly wrong, and they didn’t. It is a list of God’s faithfulness to our family, a record of his kindness. We are choosing to remember that God has been good to us. He protected our children even when we didn’t know they needed protecting.
Remember to Worship
Cataloging God’s unfailing faithfulness is not a new idea or invention. Israel often replayed God’s goodness to them (Psalm 40:5; 78; 105:5). Psalm 9:1 states, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Recounting God’s kindness brings to the forefront of our minds details that should ignite our hearts to worship him again.
Like us, God’s people in the Bible were good at forgetting the ways in which God had delivered them. For example, in Joshua 4. After Israel had crossed over the Jordan, they were instructed to set up a stone memorial. The goal of this was not simply to remember God’s general goodness in the abstract. God wanted them to remember specifically when “the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (Joshua 4:7). A vivid reminder was commanded to stand for a specific act of God.
Likewise, God has been good to us in very specific ways. It’s time we employed some vivid reminders of our own. At a minimum, the details of God’s deliverance are worth cataloging to trigger our memory and provoke praise in the future.
Deposit into Your Trust
There will be times when things do go wrong. We will likely end up in the Emergency Room with our children at some point. Pressing health concerns will arise. When such trials occur, we may begin to wonder whether God has forgotten us and our children. Intentionally remembering God’s kindness reminds us that we always have God’s attention. Always. The problem is that we don’t always notice.
God is after our mature holiness, so he brings us trials and hardships to test and refine and prove our faith (1 Peter 1:6–9). God’s proven faithfulness in the past is meant to be a bridge to help us cross over trials, knowing that this is simply the next, harder, but better instance of God’s goodness to us. We remember God’s goodness in the past in order to remind ourselves that the hard things in the future come from the same good God.
For every time God lets pain in your child’s life, there are likely a hundred times he graciously prevented it. Every time your child was previously protected, that was only by the hand of an all-knowing, all-powerful God. When God chooses not to protect, we must trust he is the same good God. We must trust he has his reasons. We must trust he is working out his good plans for us (Romans 8:28).
Instead of finding fault with God when hardships inevitably come, may we remember God’s past goodness to us and be confident that his fatherly oversight is wise and kind.
God’s Perfect Record
As parents, we hope our track record with our children proves our love (if it’s ever brought into question). God’s track record of love beats ours by far! We know we have a God who has made big promises, and has never failed to fulfill them, even for a moment. A record of God’s protection, his provision, his comforts and mercies simply adds to the massive list of reasons we should trust him.
There’s no need to make your list fancy. It could be as simple as a note on your phone. The point is to keep it handy. You’ll want it anytime you notice things could have gone much worse than they did, when God was undeservedly kind to you. Of course, every breath we take is undeserved and therefore a gift from God (Acts 17:25), but like Israel, we want to be specific about the ways God is especially merciful to us.
And you never know when you’ll need it! Trials will come, and when they do, remember God has proven his compassionate, wise love in your life, time after time.
Whether you are a list-maker or not, you can be sure that at least one list is worth your time. God has intervened, protected, and been kind to you and your loved ones. “Recount all of his wondrous deeds!”