Purposeful Faith

A Promise for the Days You Wonder if Anyone Sees

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

The screaming started as soon as the plane began descending into Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

To say I was mortified is an understatement. I tried to console my two-year-old son with toys and promises that we’d be there soon, but it was no use. I silently wished I could hide somewhere until we reached the terminal.

As I journey through motherhood, God repeatedly shows me it’s a continual process of refinement. And often, he uses situations I never desired to remind me his work is still in progress. This experience on the plane was one of them.

Travel with young children means trying to prepare yourself for the unknown. Need entertainment? The DVD player goes into the carry-on. Check. Need to regulate ear pressure? Sippy cups and binkies are packed. However, nothing can prepare you for the crying toddler who refuses to be calmed. You feel the tension of hundreds of eyes staring at you, silently yelling, “Quiet that kid down!” Only, you can’t.

My son and I were in route to visit my parents after our second cross-country move in five years. After months of house hunting, my husband and I had finally found a place near his new job, and he was doing some DIY projects before closing. This quick trip presented an opportunity for my son to see his grandparents while giving Chris space to work. It seemed like a win-win. But now, I was second-guessing myself, wishing I could buy everyone noise-cancelling headphones.

Questions circling my head turned to doubts about my mothering abilities. I was tired and drained from the stress of the last few months, and was sure my son was tired too. Did these people see how hard I was trying?

Did God?

After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived and I had one agenda: to get off the plane immediately. With our belongings thrown into the diaper bag, I swung my son onto my hip, ready to beeline it. Then, I heard a voice behind me.

“You’re really doing a great job. Keep it up.”

I froze, dumbfounded. Turning, a slightly older man stood there, smiling with sincerity in his eyes. Was he talking to me? He nodded, as if to answer the question I didn’t ask out loud. I mumbled a thank you, trying not to cry, and turned to leave.

Without even realizing it, this stranger gave affirmation I desperately needed in a season of uncertainty and doubt. God was speaking through him, straight into my heart, and I realized something. Every second I poured into my child made a difference.

In one of his letters to the church at Corinth, Paul encouraged followers of Christ not to give up, saying,

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

Paul wanted to motivate the church at Corinth to keep pursuing Christ, showing that our sanctification is an ongoing process and not an immediate transformation.

While our right standing with God is instantaneous, the journey to becoming like him continues our whole lives.

As parents, we give ourselves fully to our kids, day in and day out. We wipe noses, change diapers and receive 3 AM wake-up calls. We care for sick babes and sometimes wonder if anyone sees us. And then when they cry on airplanes, we wish we were invisible.

But God sees. And He’s working. Even when we’re not sure He is.

No matter how mundane some of our work may seem, none of it is in vain when it’s done for the Lord.

And one afternoon on a plane full of strangers, He reminded me. He gave me the push I needed to keep going, and to continue letting Him transform me from the inside out.

Author bio:

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is to show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

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Abby Mcdonald

22 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Oh! Those voices of affirmation come to us like a gift from heaven! Your story has reminded me of my own toddler-parenting days, and I want to be the voice of encouragement to mums who are struggling. Thanks for the gentle push!

  • Oh my word! Abby, this is one of your best pieces yet! Maybe because I still carry the trauma of international travel with two kids who NEVER SLEPT. Not a single wink. Not in a car. Not on a plane. Not even when they were 6 months old on 10-hour flights.

    Yes, the Lord sees and loves us. He affirms us when we need it!

    • Oh my word, Betsy. I can’t even imagine how horrifying that was. My kids did sleep, so that was a blessing. Thanks for being such an constant encourager on this journey!

  • I once wrote a post about a similar situation, only I was not the mom, I was the stranger who offered a box of raisins to a crying toddler on the plane. We need to be compassionate, as Christ commanded our compassion, to young moms with toddlers. It is not an easy journey.

  • Abby I can so relate. Thinking people are judging us as parents. And it doesn’t matter the age of our kids. Or our age. Let us encourage those around us, like the guy did in your story.

  • This was for me today…I needed the reminder as I’m in the middle of it all right now! I just wanted to thank your for being open and sharing so others moms can know that there are other people out there who have been in the same shoes and that it’s ok to doubt and struggle, but that God DOES see and that it IS worth it. Even if we don’t feel that way today!

  • I’m thankful God is always at work, whether or not we see Him. “No matter how mundane some of our work may seem, none of it is in vain when it’s done for the Lord.” Amen.

  • What a sweet reminder – God is at work and we shouldnt give up. Thank you for shariing Abby with us today.

    It has prompted me to remind a few people in my cirlce they are doing a good job.

  • What an awesome God-moment He gave you on that plane! I love it when He works through others and gives encouragement at just the right time! Blessings, Jo

  • Loved this post, Abby! Such a wonderful reminder that God reveals Himself to us through our experiences and uses others to affirm and encourage. I try doing this when I see a mama in the grocery store with a crying baby or a fidgety toddler (or both!). Thank you for sharing and blessings to you, friend!

  • Who hasn’t been there! But your post made me think that while we remember those moments when we are on the embarrassing end of that story, we have many more opportunities to encourage someone. May we be faithful to take advantage of them.

  • Every mom needs to know this. Our work can seem so unseen held up against the fancy boardrooms and travel and even ministries of others. Thank you, Abby, for the reminder that mothering is good and godly work.

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