Trusting God with My Kindergartener

March 8, 2013 · 13 comments

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by Jenny Manley

My son recently started kindergarten at a local school. On the morning of his first day I navigated us down the hallway through a sea of abayas and hijabs, kandooras, and gutras. I have never felt more awkward as I looked down at my jeans and ran my hand down the back of my ponytail. Once inside his classroom I tried to start meeting my son’s classmates, and it did not take long for me to realize that very few of the children spoke English. Nervous, my son looked to me seeking assurance, and I tried my best to give him a comforting and confident smile as I left.

I walked quickly to my car so as to avoid anyone seeing my imminent meltdown. I sat in my car collecting my thoughts about how different my children’s experiences will be from my own idyllic Americana childhood. There would be no excitement building up to 4th of July fireworks, Christmas parades, and no Friday night high school football games. I cried out to God, “Why does my son have to bear the consequences of our decision? God, I love my children too much to see them suffer!”

This was a pretty ironic thought, was it not? Because my love for my children is so great, I demanded that God would prevent my children from experiencing any pain or suffering. I also preferred my own dreams for their childhood rather than God’s perfect plans. I also forgot that my theology includes the idea that following Christ means we will encounter unwanted suffering. Before my husband and I moved overseas to plant a church we accounted for this biblical concept, mentally preparing a cost-benefit analysis. We decided that proclaiming Christ in a church-less region was worth the potential cost to us of any temporary worldly suffering. It was a conscious decision my husband and I made. What I did not calculate, however, was how our children would also experience the effects of our decisions. They didn’t have a choice in the matter– we sold all their toys and put them on a seat between us on the plane.

In my forgetfulness of God’s love for me and my children, I imagined that God was uncaring and aloof. But he is neither distant nor uninvolved in our lives! God knows what it is like to love a son, and he knows what it is to see his Son suffer. God willfully sent his Son into a world filled with hostile sinners like me whom he knew would crucify him. God counted the costs too, and he did not hesitate to do the unthinkable. Jesus willingly suffered on my behalf as God the Father directed all the punishment I deserved for my sin onto his innocent Son. In light of that truth, my son’s momentary “suffering” did not seem so great. And precisely because of the suffering of God’s Son, we can rejoice that any temporary suffering we experience on this side of eternity for Christ’s sake is really a privilege.

Of course, it is never fun to watch our children face difficult situations. But we joyfully walk through these situations knowing that our God truly understands and he hears our cries. God loves us, and he loves our children. God used the suffering of his own Son to accomplish good on our behalf. Our heavenly Father does not intend to waste the temporary suffering of our children for anything less than his glory and our good. It is a cost-benefit analysis that needs no calculation.


Avatar_JennyMJenny recently moved to the United Arab Emirates, where her husband is the pastor of a new church plant.  They have 3 lively children – ages 5, 3, and 1.  In what seems like a previous life, Jenny was a Chief of Staff in the U.S. Senate.  She secretly still loves politics from afar.


1 Becky Fleeson March 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Thankful for you Jenny and this honest post! Praying for little R as adjusts to his new school and routine!

2 Monica March 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Thank you for these truths Jenny. Keeping my eyes on the eternal has helped through many times of doubts and uncertaintly. Praying for you guys that these small moments of suffering will enable you to grow more in faith and Christ-likeness.

3 Tim March 8, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Your story brough back memories of when we were dropping our kids off at kindergarten for the first time almost two decades ago, Jenny, and I loved this line: “I also preferred my own dreams for their childhood rather than God’s perfect plans.” Yep, parents think they know better than God what’s best. It’s something I’ve dealt with for as long as I’ve been a parent.

Kids are so vulnerable, yet amazingly resilient. I think a lot of the difference between them suffering under their vulnrerability or thriving in their resilience is the love they receive from their parents. It sounds to me like your children will thrive just fine.


4 Marsha Mundinger March 9, 2013 at 12:04 am

Thanks for sharing this beautiful testimony. I am so thankful God has blessed ya. Love you

5 Crystal March 9, 2013 at 12:31 am

Thank you, Jenny! I was at DSU with Josh, so it was special to read this and then realize who you are! It was a great encouragement for me to read this even though my 5 and 7 year olds have been in the school in the new country for 2 months now. I still struggle with fears regarding where they spend most of there days. Thankful God listens to our fears and tears.
Thanks for sharing,
Crystal Barnes

6 Emily T March 9, 2013 at 1:33 am

This was so good. We love you all and miss you here in KY. Praying for you…and now especially the kids as you continue to transition. We are rejoicing with you at all God is going there!

7 tony March 9, 2013 at 1:43 am

“i have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 john 4
truly, God is honored in obedience. as brothers and sisters in Christ, we benefit from the testimonies of one another’s faith. jenny, know that you have encouraged and blessed others with your transparency and teachable heart! we are committed to pray for your family…especially those 3 lively children! miss you!

8 Matt Smethurst March 9, 2013 at 1:46 am

Excellent piece, Jenny.

9 Meg K March 9, 2013 at 1:52 am

I’m thankful to God for you Jenny.

10 Brian Karlik March 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm

As a former missionary who raised some of my children oversees, a couple of questions came to my mind when I read this. Is your child in an international school or in an Arab school? What are your reasons for sending your child to such a kindergarten and not homeschooling your child?

11 Tim March 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Really? Why did those questions come to mind?

12 Carolyn Reeves March 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

Although I’m still wiping tears, your blog was very encouraging. 3 John 4 on my refrigerator hasn’t changed, and it really does bring joy to know that my children are walking in truth. We’re both trusting God with our children. Love you, Mom

13 Brian Karlik March 11, 2013 at 2:31 am

Because I would never send my child to a Muslim kindergarten and I can think of far more harm that could come to child in such situation apart from missing American school traditions.

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