How Parenting Taught Me Insufficiency is Okay


All too often we fool ourselves into thinking we can control our lives.  The truth is that life is full of curveballs.  While we may not have control over what we are given, we do get to choose how we react.  Matt Mooney experienced this first hand in a very difficult way. Read his inspiring story below about the way he had to give up the control he never had to begin with. You can follow Matt on his blog or on twitter.

I was always aiming for self-sufficiency.

When I found out I was going to be a father, I felt an unseen magnetic pull that certainly bolstered this already alluring concept.  The billboard father that I placed on a pedestal and unconsciously sought to become had it all under control while simultaneously seeming to exert very little effort.  Some sort of Marlboro Man prototype (albeit, one that had sacrificially put away the smokes when the baby came).


Those two seductive words surely sum up what a dad should be.

Then came my son, Eliot.

Along with him came the reality of a diagnosis of trisomy 18 whereby we were told by the medical community that his life would most likely be minutes—if we were lucky enough that he survived the birth process.  But he did come and we were blessed beyond measure with 99 days with our son.  We miss him every day and are left seeking ways to live out the lessons God taught us through our first born— the one who left us too soon.

And so I let the Marlboro Man meet his maker—some imaginary scene replete with fitful bouts of coughing.  With Eliot, I traded in the self-sufficiency of cowboy hats for something much less sought by the world that we dads swim in: kneepads.

There is no allure to kneepads.  Zero. And nothing screams of insufficiency louder than being on our knees for hours in prayer.

With Eliot’s life came clarity that we so often seek to avoid—we are not in control…not of our circumstances, situations and certainly not the lives of those whom we get to parent.  I now find myself attempting to parent Eliot’s siblings—the three I call the rascals (ages 3, 4 & 6).

And so I find my knees on the ground more often these days—a physical acknowledgment of what I spent so long avoiding.  I am so far from self-sufficient.  I am fumbling through fatherhood on a daily basis and nothing more readily reminds me of my own shortcoming than my children.  And so I plead and pray and petition the one who actually does hold each moment in His palm.

Though acknowledging my lack of sufficiency has brought spine-tingling fears, it has also produced massive amounts of freedom.  My children’s lives are not limited by my failures and there is a hope for them far exceeding my abilities to be all they need.

Because of Eliot, I have quit pretending to be something I am not.  Many of us parent as though we are unwilling to let go of that which we never actually grasped.  Though these rascals are not my possession, they are a gift.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).


Matt and his wife Ginny founded 99 Balloons, an organization to help others engage children with special needs locally and globally. Many know Matt through the story of his son, Eliot, whose 99 days on this earth were commemorated with 99 balloons. He is the author of the book, A Story Unfinished. Matt lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he busies himself raising Eliot’s siblings—Hazel, Anders, and Lena.


What is one way you have discovered that you aren’t self-sufficient? I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Please share with me below.

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