I was thinking about praying for our children.
When they're little, we have childish dreams for them. Will they be the captain of the hockey team or class president? We assume they'll be respectful and always love us the way their childhood selves do.
As they grow, so does their separateness from us. They blossom into who they were created to be and we deny what's happening. We may even inflict shame or try guilt to mold them back into miniature versions of ourselves. We introduce them to the things we love, sure that they'll embrace them all.
Then come the teenage years. These can be particularly difficult times. Not only is a butterfly trying to emerge, it's a rebellious one. In order to become who they were created to be, they need to assert their independence from us. There may be tears or disappointment. They're getting away from us. Deep down in our souls, we try to reign them back in.
Oh no, it can't be! How can this little person who I’ve invested all my best in turn and walk in a different direction?
And then I thought about God. He was the one who knit those babies together in my womb. Although they're made of our genes, God’s imprint is in them. They were never fully mine to mold. They already had God’s plan etched in their hearts and minds.
How could that be, God? How could this independence and rebellion come from you?
And then it came to me. It’s up to them to choose which way to go. I fooled myself into believing that my influence was greater than God’s. He had given them free will. He doesn’t inflict shame or guilt to make them go a certain way. He gives them gifts and talents and then lets them choose whether or not to use them. He allows them to love Him or not.
It’s all so beautiful and difficult. Do I have the courage to pray ‘your will be done’ over my children?
Do I have the courage to watch the emergence of this little human being into a completely separate and beautiful version of You? Do I have the courage to allow Your greatness to transform them and take them to places I never imagined while allowing the sin of this world to also take its toll?
Or will I try my darndest to keep them close and safe according to my definition?
You, God, allowed your son, Jesus, to be fully human. You, God, allowed Jesus to grow into the Savior of the world. And You, God, let Jesus make a choice. You, God, allowed Jesus to either follow You or take the easy way out. You, God, gave Jesus all the power in the world and let Him choose how to use it. You, God, allowed Jesus to go to the cross.
This is infinitely complex and mind-blowing.
So what am I to do as a parent? How do I love and instruct and also allow free will?
How do I love them and also obey You, God? How do I put my trust in You with my precious child? How will I put myself aside and allow You to have Your way with them? Give me strength, God, as I care for this very precious gift.
Nothing prepared my heart for the love this little human being would bring. Nothing compares in all of the universe to a parent’s love for a child.
But You, God, understand. You created this unbelievably wonderful experience. You, God, meant to not only give me joy in parenting but teach me through the process. They are small and helpless and so am I.
Give me courage, God. Show me the way. Your will be done, God. I know that is perfect and right. You have a plan. I can trust that. Thank you for a parent’s love.