Have you ever been discouraged in your parenthood journey? Do you have a loved one who seems to have gone away from the Lord?
Manel Diwa, wife of Dr. Russell “Butch” Diwa, talks of a time when the results of her earnest effort to raise her daughters right still left her “spinning with disappointment.” Years hence, her daughters are now following the Lord and He has restored their mother-daughter relationships. Today, however, she recalls that season; with humble, courageous authenticity, in the hope of encouraging someone in a parallel journey, Manel shares her challenges, lessons, encouragement and more in this chat with Butterflyinthespring.
How were you as a mom?
I was hands-on. I opted out from being an Accountant to home school my two daughters to provide safeguards against an increasingly liberal influence in the US. Upon their transition to public school, I maintained this high degree of involvement.
What were your aspirations for your children?
I desired the best for them. I longed for them to follow the ways of the Lord with unbridled obedience. I inculcated the truth that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow them all the days of their lives” as they put God first.
On a scale of 1-10 (10 highest), how much did you try to do your best in raising your kids?
When you become a parent, suddenly, it is all about your child and not about you. I think, parenthood is God’s way of giving us a glimpse of what unconditional love is like. I don’t think any parent would hold back and give their children less than 100% effort. I went for the maximum. I followed God’s unconditional premium in His regard for me and this translated to my standard of love and care towards my daughters.
At what point did it seem like the results of child-rearing were going off-course?
Teen-age years were most challenging. Logic was not helpful at all. The factors of culture and developmental changes caused me to spin with disappointment.
Can you describe the situation you faced?
One of the non-negotiables in our home and a value that we instilled in our children was always telling the truth. I started to be alarmed when I would catch my daughter lying perhaps due to a need to hide what was really going on in her life.
The matter of truth-telling was important in our home. When this was compromised, I was alarmed by its frequency. I began wondering about the contributing factors that led to their propensity to hide things from me and it deeply hurt.
What was that experience like for you?
I felt disrespected and distrusted.
How did you respond?
My response was not automatically Christ-like. I was so hurt that anger and indifference became default coping mechanisms. I would be tempted to surrender the fight. I am thankful to my husband for his encouraging mentorship to stay the course through prayer and gracious allowances.
How do you think God equipped you for that?
It was most challenging to navigate through those rebellious years but God’s wisdom through Scriptures and godly counsel anchored my ground towards God’s Sovereignty. I was given the gift of children because God knew this was best. It was a matter of trusting Him daily for sustained devotion to love them with Christ’s compassionate care.
How was your faith that time?
By the grace of God, my faith remained steadfast because I had no one else to cling to but Him. His promises in scripture were the only things that seemed to be the light in a very dark place. When things started to get so overwhelming and I felt I could not deal with it any longer, verses would come to mind like “He will not give you more than what you can handle”. When I felt hopeless, I would be reminded that “Nothing is impossible with God”.
What were the greatest challenges then?
The greatest challenge for me was to not impulsively react instead of respond. If I responded more than reacted, I would have been more pursuing of her heart than just impulsively reacting to difficult situations.
Your greatest source(s) of encouragement?
The greatest encouragement aside from the hope in scriptures is my husband who never gave up hope that my daughter would return to the fold. He always reminded me that she is a child of God and therefore God will not forsake nor abandon her. We just needed to keep on praying and allow God to work His will in her life.
What lessons did you learn?
I remembered a quote from a book by Chuck Swindoll when he said that “Our goal as parents is NOT to raise Godly children but our goal is to BE Godly parents”. He said that we cannot control the choices that our children make but we can make choices for ourselves and be Godly role models for our children. That was very freeing for me. I learned that prayer is the best thing we can do for our children. It was hard for me to let go and let God take over in my child’s life. I thought that I could change her but not until I allowed God to take over did I really see the change in her life. No matter what I did, nothing seemed to work until I allowed God to take over and truly teach her lessons that only HE can. When I resorted to just being the kind of mother God wanted me to be, the pressure was off. God took control.
Was there a particular verse that you went back to again and again?
It was not a particular verse but the gospel message of when we were sinners Christ died for us. It was Christ’s unconditional love for me that allowed me to love my daughter unconditionally.
What helped you most during that season?
Encouragement in scriptures and the unwavering faith of my husband
What things would you have done differently?
At times, the way that I would cope was to distance myself emotionally. I was trying to protect myself from the pain and the failure I felt as a parent. I should not have easily given up and I should have pursued her heart even more just like God’s pursuit towards us.
What “good” (from Romans 8:28) did you see God use those circumstances for?
I had a glimpse of the heart of God from what I had experienced as a parent. I learned what it meant to really let go and let God. I don’t think I have really experienced the power of prayer until I went through the difficulties of parenting.
What encouragement can you give someone whose child or a loved one seem to be away from the Lord?
The best thing we can do for our children or loved ones is to pray for them. We need to fight for their souls on our knees. The battleground of the enemy is for the minds of our children and the way to fight back is through prayer.
How do you approach motherhood now?
Knowing that my children are God’s first before they are mine frees me to give the reins to God; I no longer allow myself to be pressured to think that the success and failures of my children depend solely on me. I can now relax and truly enjoy their company without always having the need to intervene in what God is already doing in their lives.
How are your children now?
By God’s grace, my two precious daughters are now passionate followers of their Redeemer. Nika is now a fashion influencer and a motivational speaker who seeks to empower women to live out their identity in Christ. Bianca works at Chloe & Isabel in NYC and she loves teaching Sunday school to preschoolers.
Manel Diwa is currently a second grade teacher in Springcreek Elementary School in Garland, Texas. She is the wife of Dr. Russell “Butch” Diwa, Senior Pastor at The Biblical Community Church, Richardson, Texas. She is mother to Nika and Bianca.