“Have you ever had a car wreck?” she asked.
Boy, had he ever, I thought. Our six-year-old daughter had directed the question at her father, and I listened with raised eyebrow for his response. Wow. He didn’t disappoint.
“I sure did,” he answered. “A really bad one!”
And yes, it had been a really bad one. One of those accidents that obliterate the vehicle beyond recognition, the ones where EMS arrives and know they’ll find someone dead.
Except he hadn’t died.
It was quite miraculous, actually. My husband (before he was my husband) had been unrestrained, and his vehicle had flown fifty feet or so into the air. Heck, I’m the worst at calculating distance, but I do know they found where his vehicle dinged over halfway up a power pole before it descended back down to the ground. I do know they found his body sitting in the passenger side, despite the fact that he had been driving. And I do know he should not have survived that accident. They found his front teeth sitting on his chest and a gash about a centimeter from his carotid. God spared his life, and I had always joked with him that it was so he could marry me.
He continued, “it was so bad that I should have died, but God needed me to meet your mom so I could have you.”
And there it was. The one thing every Christian parent needed to know, and more importantly, needed to impart.
“God has a plan for your life,” he finished with a smile.
He spoke to our middle child, our most unique daughter. She was overly sensitive, and when she bawled about basically anything, this one part of me wanted to scream, “quit your crying!!”
Long ago I realized she would make my job a challenge. I think maybe God gives you a pass with that first one.
He’s like, “she’s a new mom. Let’s take it easy. Gabriel, go catch that kid before it rolls off the changing table!”
When my second daughter arrived I realized she wasn’t as easy to figure out, and since they didn’t come with instructions taped on the back, I did a lot of praying. In all that praying (you know, the kind you do in tears after all the yelling), I felt like the Lord told me something really important.
“I made her that way.”
That’s what He impressed on my heart one particularly tough day, and I’ve tried to remember the same for the humdinger of a third child I had a year later. That one! Lord, help me. But that’s a blog for another day.
Anyway, I realized that one day, hiding in my closet of shame (but literally my closet), that my middle child was sensitive for a reason. She held in her tiny frame the capacity to love the whole wide world if she needed to, and her specific characteristics were for a reason. God had big plans for that little lady, and I made sure from that day forward to keep that in mind.
When I wanted to get frustrated, I remembered, when I didn’t understand, I remembered, and when the world made me want to change her, I remembered. He knew her even before He formed her in my womb, and He had plans for His creation. My job was to work with His model, my job was to cultivate that, and most importantly, my job was to point her towards Him always.
We let our children know that their life has purpose. As parents, we remind ourselves that we’re raising little humans who have a purpose for God’s kingdom. That’s a lofty job, so we take it quite seriously, making sure we read the only thing close to an instruction manual for parenting, His Word.
My eldest knows that her life is already spectacular, that she changed my future with her arrival, but that God has even greater things in store for her. We don’t hold back the compliments, the love, the discipline, or the instruction that is required. We pray for guidance continually as we raise these little girls to accomplish whatever the Lord has in mind.
We don’t bend to the status quo. We don’t follow the crowd, hang in there with the herd, desiring an easy life so that our children will “fit in.” They know they’re set apart by God, but I don’t mean that in some prideful way. They know that each human ever born has a plan that God ordains, that their plan is no better than someone else’s, but that their life will succeed when they follow His face. Not everyone follows God’s plan for their life. Most get lost in the world’s plan along the way. They get caught up in trends, what’s popular, or what society may say is valuable. Our goal is to raise our girls to realize that couldn’t be farther from the truth. They know that the things the world values are fading, but what holds true worth is eternal.
Gosh, they’re so young. How can they fathom eternity at such an age? Well, I guess we model it each day by being an example of His love.
When I pray with my daughters at night I make sure and include two things.
- I pray that they know how much they are loved by God.
- That they will, in turn, pour out that same love to everyone they meet.
As Christians, we are called to love, and as a parent we are called to love our children. Seems simple, right? Of course parents love their children! But do they show that love in the best way possible? Do they show that love by ensuring their children know from where that love derives?! It is of God. And that same love has been built into their DNA. That love will guide them, but His love in us as parents will help lead them. A parent’s greatest role is to lead their children to the Lord, and if that one thing is the biggest thing I’ll ever do in this life, then I am abundantly blessed.
Jesus left the 99 to find the 1, and know it’s my turn to shepherd the lambs He has given to me. Each child will know that they are the 1. They are that special 1 that He would leave the whole flock to find. He has a purpose for their lives. They need to know it, and I need to remember it. I just happen to have a role in getting them there.
My husband has said before that if God only has for him to raise babies to love Jesus, then that is enough for him. Listening to the car wreck conversation I know he believes it is true. I think God has much planned for my spouse, but fathering our children was certainly one. He takes that purpose quite seriously. And now our middle child is reminded of the purpose her life holds, that God would miraculously intervene to ensure she was born. Each child, in my opinion, should feel the same about their life, albeit different circumstances. They all should know that their life has great purpose, and we as parents should know it too.