There were worry marks across her face. I could see her thoughts consuming her, so I asked my youngest daughter, “What’s wrong?” Not uncommon to hear this time of year within our house, she voiced the worry of a lot of returning students, “I am worried about who my teacher will be…and I also can’t stop worrying that my best friend and I will be separated.” I knew her first worry was pretty standard because all of my children have always had a worry that they would be just the right fit for their teacher, and vice versa, but I knew the second worry was even a bigger deal for her, because last year we had specifically prayed that God would send her a best friend that loved her for who she was, and God more than answered that prayer through this sweet friend in so many ways. And, because I remember being 10, specifically a 10 year old girl, I remembered that our friendships were everything to us at that age, I suggested we’d pray about both things troubling her. I challenged her to pray everyday leading up to the day we would go meet her teacher, and even if God answered differently that we would ask Him to give us peace. Seems reasonable, right?
This week I saw a smile bigger than any I’d ever seen on the face of that 10 year old when she read the name on the paper, the name she had specifically prayed would be her teacher. What a really cool thing to see God answer prayer, no matter how old we are! As fast as I saw that big ole smile, I could see she was ready to see if He had answered her second prayer that she would be in class with her best friend. After meeting her sweet new teacher, her teacher offered to let her see if she knew any friends on her class roll. As we scanned the list we knew almost immediately that her prayer for her friend to be with her had not been answered like she had hoped. Can I tell you that I would rather my own prayers not be answered like I want, than watch the sheer disappointment that clouded over my sweet girl’s face. She waited until we got inside her classroom, where no one else was present, to allow her lip to tremble and her eyes to fill with tears, and while she never cried, she voiced her sadness of going through a year of being separated from her friend.
As parents, I often get a truer sense of how God must ache when we hurt, yet He often allows us to hurt so we can know Him to the fullest. My husband said this statement to our staff at church yesterday, “Pain is your friend.” I can attest to many times in my life I have found this to be so true, as walking through it brought me closer to God than had I resisted going through it with Him. As a 43 year old women, I get it. To convey it to your children is often much harder. While their pain is often only scratching the surface of what pain we experience the older we get, it is still a shaping of who they are, and who they become in Christ. I wanted to manipulate the situation that she would not have to go all year without her friend. I wanted to rescue her. I probably could have, but our goal as parents must be to help guide their character and lead them to depend on God for themselves, so we chose to not rescue her. Is it a big deal in the grand scheme of life that she is not with her friend? Probably not, because their friendship doesn’t just exist inside the walls of a school, but is it a big deal to take even these moments of not always getting what we asked for and make them a moment to challenge them that they can still trust God… even when He doesn’t always answer their prayers like they want? It is absolutely a big deal! As I read these words a day after watching her little heart break, I know that the lessons I can allow her to learn with God, and about God, are shaping a woman of God that I hope will change the lives of others one day…
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
While I may have a goal to develop character in my children that we are not entitled to anything, the world is rapidly telling them they are entitled to whatever their heart desires. It would be the easy thing to do to hand them whatever they desire on a silver platter, but if our ultimate goal is that they know Christ to the fullest, then we as parents have to determine to foster their trust in Him to establish their steps…to declare He has a plan for their lives. I want each of my girls to understand the reward for trusting God to steer the course of their lives, whether it be in the big or little things of life.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy: at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
What an awesome heritage we give to our children when we show them that a life on the path that God sets before them is ALWAYS leading them more and more into the fullness of joy! Parents, we are living in a day where the days are filled with busyness that is ultimately temporary, but the priorities that are set in place today are the priorities our kids will establish for their tomorrow. Are you placing the path of the Lord as your top priority? Are your children seeing that the things of God and the ministry He’s given each of us to share the Gospel are the MOST important things, or are you pushing other things to the top of your life that are not leading to the fullness of joy? Our children are watching for us to lead them. Before they were ever born, you were already a family…just you and your husband, or even you as a single parent. Your children were born into your lives, and not the other way around. God has given you responsibility to guide them, to teach them how to love, to trust God all the days of their lives. They don’t learn this if you are not leading them to learn to hear God’s voice in every single thing they face in life. New seasons always bring new opportunity! Let this new season of a new school year bring you greater opportunity to show Jesus to your children unlike ever before!