Eugene Cho

When a parent cries for their child and comes to the admission that they can’t fix everything.

It’s been couple weeks since my last post. I’ve been meaning to write numerous posts – all incredible and brilliant posts (in my mind at least). I start but can never finish. It’s just been that kind of time where my heart and mind has wandered to other places.

Namely, they have wandered to health issues of one of my children.

While I need to be careful what I share and how I share it (for the sake of honoring my child’s privacy), I thought it would be good – for my own sake – to share a bit of my heart and thoughts when a parent cries for their child and a when a parent comes to the painful admission that he or she just can’t fix everything.

When a parent cries for their child.

You see, I have cried on many occasions over the years. There are times I cry alone. There are times I cry with my wife. There are times I cry with my sick child.

The past few months have been particularly difficult and heartwrenching as Minhee and I seek to care for this child that’s had life-long struggles with severe food allergies, eczema, and everything in between.

I know. I know what some of you are thinking.

Really? Tears over food allergies and eczema?

I know. Sounds so timid in comparison to the plight of others who are suffering from more arduous struggles but when it comes to a sick child:

It doesn’t matter. It hurts like a _______.

It’s been painfully tough because it’s been life long. While we’ve hoped and prayed for healing over the years, we continue to hope and wait. We’ve consulted doctors, dermatologists, natural herbalists, acupuncturists, faith healers, etc. We’ve spent significant resources on ointment, medicine, pills, tests, and then more stuff.

We’ve adjusted our child’s diet in order to avoid eggs, nuts, gluten, soy, wheat, and corn.

When your child begins to see herself not through the eyes of God or her parents that love her but through the gossip, snickering, and judgments of others…they add to the tears of this parent.

When a parent can’t fix things

This.

This is the hardest admission.

For me, I like to fix things. I can do many things. I’ve accomplished many things: I can plant churches, start cafes and music venues, start non-profits and movements, raise millions of dollars to enable empowerment and projects, get written about in the NY Times and various media publication, and be invited to meet the President of the United States…

I can do a lot of things. I feel like I can change the world…

and yet, I can’t fix my own child.

Oh, how I’ve longed, tried, prayed, and desired to make it all better. To fix it and make it all better.

I just repeated myself inadvertently but it only shows the longing of my heart to fix and heal my child’s woes and make it all better.

But I can’t….and it hurts so much.

Learning to surrender to a God

Ultimately, this is what Minhee and I (and our child) keep learning again and again.  As much as we love our child and all our children, we genuinely believe we worship a God who loves them infinitely more – beyond our comprehension.

And so, our life is a journey where we grow in our trust and learn to surrender. Sometimes, we take stumble, fall, and take a few steps back but again and again, we’re reminded of God’s mercy, grace, and love.

I pray. I believe. I know that God can and will use this to strengthen our child and our family. It will help build character and strength. It will help build empathy and compassion.

It will. God will.

My wife and I not only learn about God but we’ve learned so much about one another but especially about the heart and character of our children. And when we think it’s impossible to love our children more, we experience the impossible.

And love her and all our children even more.

This only makes us wonder and consider the sheer depth and vastness of God’s love for humanity.

And this humbles us and compels us.

‘Stronger’

I saw this video featuring a song entitled “Stronger” this past week created  with some patients at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

Beautiful stuff.

I cried even more.

I prayed for strength for all the children I saw in this video. I prayed for those not in this video who are sick. I prayed for their parents.

Strength and courage. Covered in love.

Amen.

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20 Responses

  1. Melody says:

    I so related to this. I thought you might relate to this poem because it could easily have been titled A Good Father. Hoping for peace for you today. http://wp.me/ploAe-2aZ

  2. Hi Eugene, I know what you mean when you talk about the fears and frustrations of any struggle for your child. I pray for my kids all the time knowing tough stuff hits everyone sometime, but not wanting it to hit us. At the same time, I know the tough stuff which I have faced has helped me, has strengthened me. I wonder if parenting gives us insight into how God feels about us.

    By the way, I saw that video too. Had to show it to my kids to enlarge their world. Have you shown it to your kids?

    • Eugene Cho says:

      You’re right.

      We believe that God can redeem these struggles to help, strengthen, build character, and enable deeper things in the lives of our children.

      Planning on showing the video to the kids this week.

  3. RjL says:

    Thanks for your vulnerability. Grateful that you are able to help others through these pains.

  4. :Dave says:

    Correction: Though GOD you have accomplished many things: though GOD you have planted churches, start cafes and music venues, start non-profits and movements, raise millions of dollars to enable empowerment and projects, get written about in the NY Times and various media publication, and be invited to meet the President of the United States…

    Who says your child needs “fixing”? God made him/her perfect in His image. Just because s/he’s “different” than “normal” people doesn’t mean s/he’s broken! God uses those differences in ALL of us to accomplish His will. If God decides to “heal” your child, He will, and He will use that miracle to change not only your child’s life, but other lives.

    When I was born, I stopped breathing. The doctors revived me, but not with out a price: Cerebral Palsy. Growing up, my parents both told me on multiple occasions, they wished they could “fix” me, or even trade places. And that always sat uneasy with me. I didn’t understand why, until my teenage years, when I understood that my CP was God’s DAILY reminder that he LOVED me. I should have died the day I born, but God had other plans for me. I forget that sometimes. I get frustrated with my lack of dexterity, and balance, and being “normal.” But then, sometimes I hear God voice telling me that he STILL loves ME, no matter if I/others love myself/me or not. I’ve thought long and hard about “fixing” myself (if there even was a fix), and while it would be convenient, God uses me and all my “earthly flaws” for His glory. And that’s all that matters.

    I understand it hurts. I do. But in our moments of pain, we can either look to the world, who says “You are flawed!”, or we can look towards God, who tells us “You are perfect!” Continue looking towards God.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Clearly, this was not a very good post because if it was, it should have been clear and witty why I intentionally wrote what I wrote. Without your correction, it should have made the exact point of your correction.

      I’ll just keep trying.

      Thanks for the comment and for sharing your story.

      • :Dave says:

        Ahhh! Therein lies the problem with print…at times it’s difficult to convey underlying tones, especially when some of your audience doesn’t know you or your witty personality.

        It is a great post, actually. Thank you for sharing your story!

  5. Barb says:

    I have a grown son who has had serious brain surgery and there is no guarantee that it will not return. He has a wife with signigicant medical problems and a 10 year old daughter. It is hard as a parent, but I came to the realization some 30 years ago that God loves all of us more than we can imagine. I pray he lives a long life, but I know that I can trust my Father even when I don’t understand what is happening. He never leaves us or forsakes us. The essence of our faith is trusting Him always. It took me a long time to learn this, but it brings great peace.

  6. Karen says:

    Great article, Eugene. We have had some serious and terrifying illnesses involving our kids and it is during those times that God reminds me that I gave them to him a long time ago. It is so gut-wrenchingly hard to be a parent. I’m praying for your family today.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Loved it. The vulnerability of parenting was genuinely the most shocking aspect of becoming a mom for me. I have control issues and the daily reminder that I am not in control is so uncomfortable and yet good for my soul. Hard good stuff. He is strong in our weakness (and we are so very weak).

  8. TA says:

    Your post about parental strife over childhood illness was very powerful. You are inspiring and I am saddened for your families health concerns. Caring for a child with special needs is exhausting, but everso rewarding.

    At our church today, the pastor reminded us that “Pain is God’s megaphone for faith”. The pastor said that it was someone’s elses idea, but the focus is on challenges bringing about more spiritual maturity. James 1:2-4 helps me.

    We are never more intimate with God than when we are in pain. God is testing us, and we know no end to the tests…! God will reveal himself when he wants to. When, not if. Watching your child in pain is terrifying… Both my kids are special needs so I can imagine your pain. I’m fiercly protective of them, as any parent is, so I know you understand I told you that in confidence.

    You and your family have prayers coming to you from Hong Kong.

  9. I’m so sorry to hear how hard it’s been. I have a few friends with these types of food allergies and there is nothing to belittle about it, it’s agonizing wondering who may have touched a peanut jar or where any random nut may lurk. It’s a tough road adn i can totally see why you’d have tears. =( I’m feeling that same defeat right now in marriage…different battle and hurts like _______. We trust in teh Lord alike…said a prayer for y’all.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Grace:

      Thanks for sharing this.

      I appreciate your prayers and lifting prayers for you as well.

      May we find strength and rest in the Lord.

  10. My brother and his wife in suburban Seattle have a son who has Down Syndrome and a daughter whose heart was plumbed backwards and had to survive a rare, rare surgery when she was still just months old. Both children are thriving and Daniel, named for my late father, is graduating from high school in a few weeks. One thing I know is that my brother and his wife have a steadfast faith that has allowed them to face their challenges with joy and strength. I am sure that in their private moments they may have asked “Why Lord?” But I think that their faith comforted them and prepared them to be the perfect parents for two very loving and very normal kids.

    Your pain and frustration at not being able to “fix” your child’s problems are not unusual and are not weakness. They are part of any good parent’s response to your child’s situation.

    But the greatest gift you can give to any child is your joy and your optimism in the face of any challenge.

    I will pray for you and for your child.

    In the mean time, although I disagree with a few of the more ardent passages in your Sojourner’s blog on Mr. Worley, I agree with your firm repudiation of his vile message. I shared a link with a friend of mine who was engaged in a discussion about whether liberal Christians (like me) stood up strongly enough in cases such as Worley’s

  11. Lou says:

    I have been through car crashes, wheelchairs, cancer, surgeries and – you name it – personal pain but, NOTHING hurts like the pain of any of my children. My prayers are with you and your family for healing and strength.

  12. […] Start with this honest piece by Eugene Cho. The title says it all: “When a parent cries for their child and comes to the admission that they can’t fix ever… […]

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One Day’s Wages

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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