by Lysa TerKeurst
My oldest daughter, Hope, was a senior last year. She decided her senior year should be adventurous and a little out of the “normal” box. A lot out of the box, actually.
Hope withdrew from traditional school, applied to homeschool, and enrolled in online courses that would allow her to get both high school and college credit simultaneously. And she spent the month of January serving as a missionary in Nicaragua.
This didn’t surprise me, really – Hope has always liked charting her own course.
When she was little, I was scared to death I was the world’s worst mom. Hope was never one to be contained, and I honestly thought all her extra tenacity was a sign of my poor mothering.
One day, I took her to the mall to meet several friends with toddlers for lunch. The other kids sat quietly eating cheerios in their strollers ... shining their halos, quoting Bible verses and using tissues to wipe their snot.
She was infuriated by my insistence she stay in her stroller. So, when I turned away for a split second to place our lunch order, she wiggled free, stripped off all her clothes, and ran across the food court to jump into the fountain at the center of the mall.
Nothing makes the mother of a toddler feel more incapable than seeing her naked child splashing in the mall fountain – except maybe that toddler refusing to get out, and said mother having to join her in the fountain.
I cried all the way home.
Not because of what she’d done that day, but because of how she was everyday. So determined. So independent. So insistent.
I begged God to show me how to raise a good child. One that stayed in her stroller. One that made people comment, “how wonderfully behaved.” One that made me look good.
But God seemed so slow to answer those prayers. So, over the years, I changed my prayer. ”God, help me to raise Hope to be who You want her to be.” Emphasis on, “God HELP ME!”
I think I changed my prayers for her because God started to change my heart. I started sensing He had a different plan in mind for my mothering of Hope.
Maybe God’s goal wasn’t for me to raise a good, rule-following child. God’s goal was for me to raise a God-following adult. An adult just determined and independent and insistent enough to fulfill a purpose He had in mind all along.
I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with 3 simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:
- Don’t take too much credit for their good.
- Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
- Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.
And all the mamas of fountain dancing children said, “Amen!”