Surrendering Our Kids to the God Who Made Them

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When I was a kid, I was an athlete, and basketball was my sport. My husband was an athlete, and he excelled at soccer. Naturally, I assumed that we would produce little athletes, so we placed my oldest in soccer and basketball at a young age, and she did well in both. So, when my daughter told me she was “done” after eighth grade, her words did not register. Our conversation went something like this:

You mean you’re done with basketball so you can focus on soccer?”

“No. I’m done with both.”

“Oh, you mean you’re done with soccer so you can focus on basketball?”

Nope. She didn’t mean that either. My daughter was done with sports, and she wanted to dance. But dancing was not a part of my plan for my kid. No one in my family danced. Dancing was foreign; dancing was not basketball.

It’s difficult as parents to let go of the dreams we have for our children. But why do we struggle with this so much? I admit that countless times I have made decisions for a child simply trying to make them be who I want them to be. In doing so, it feels a bit like forcing a puzzle piece into a spot where it just doesn’t belong. When the Bible talks about exasperating our kids (Ephesians 6:4), the reality is that living vicariously through them, or trying to form them into the people we think they should be, directly contradicts what the Bible says about how we should view our children. Look at these words from Psalm 139:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

Formed by God

We are not the creators of our children, nor are we the owners. Our kids are created by God, and they belong to Him. Each stroke, guided by the hand of the Almighty, has purpose, forming a distinctive and beautiful picture of a soul God knew and loved before they even came into existence (Psalm 139:16). He took a blank canvas and painted into being a soul he delights in and sings over (Zephaniah 3:17). God chose the details of each person for a purpose greater than our comprehension; God formed their make-up for reasons that will glorify Him, and God relishes in the goodness of the precious child He has made. As parents, we too should delight in our children seeking, by God’s grace, to see them as the extraordinary image-bearers they are made to be.

Awesomely and Wonderfully Made

God formed each child uniquely, and He made no mistakes in doing so. Not one. Each child is wonderfully made. A child with a disability is not “unfortunate,” a kid with one extra chromosome is not “random,” a soul that is strong-willed is not an error, and a compliant child is not so simply because of “good parenting.” God gave them their personality, God built their frame, and His work is awesome. I’m learning to take a step back in order to see more clearly my children’s distinct qualities and gifts. What is different often scares us because what is different usually makes us uncomfortable. But it’s precisely in our differences that we experience beauty and wonder.

I eventually relented to my daughter’s wishes to take a dance class during her freshmen year of high school. After only two lessons, the instructor called me and said, “Your daughter has a God-given talent. Her body was built for dance, and she’s just amazing.” I was so acutely focused on the talent I wanted my kid to have that I did not encourage or praise this other inherent gift. My heart has overflowed with joy through the years watching my daughter use her gift of dance. The Lord shows us His wonder and beauty in the midst of our differences, and not in spite of them.

All God’s Works are Wonderful

By His grace, God has chosen you to be the parent of the child He has formed, and as the psalmist acknowledges, all of His works are wonderful. It may not always feel that way, though. You may feel mismatched or inadequate, and you may even feel frustrated or confused by a child who is far different than what you had planned.

I have struggled to accept some of the Lord’s painted strokes because they don’t seem to fit my picture for one of my own children. The struggle became intense when this child began showing signs of being non-compliant. I am a rule follower, and so is my husband, and my other kids have mostly done what they were told, so when one of my kids reacted differently to the one way of parenting I believed “worked,” I treated this non-compliant kid like there was something wrong with them. Never would I have admitted it, but in my heart, this child became a nuisance and an embarrassment. It didn’t take long for my kid to begin to sense my deep frustration; at our lowest point, my child expressed a desire to no longer live in our home.

By God’s grace, we have both begun the long road of healing, and for me that journey started when I began to face the fact that I was trying to make my child fit into a very particular mold. When that didn’t happen, instead of adjusting my own expectations, I tried to force my child into the very specific template I had created. Without even realizing it, I began parenting as though the problem was not in some of my child’s unwise decisions but that the problem was actually my child. It was clear that I was exasperating this child by trying to make them into the person I thought they should be. About a year later, my child explained this contributed toward feelings of inadequacy, and understandably so.

Because sin entered the world, we are tempted to take control of the artist’s brush. But God, by His grace, has uniquely made each child and has uniquely gifted you as a parent to love, guide, and nurture the children He has placed in your care. I have found freedom in giving up my control of the paint brush, and each time I bow my head to God’s sovereignty, I stand in wonder at His grace and His mercy. We don’t have to be perfect in our parenting, but God calls us to be faithful in pointing our kids to their creator and in trusting the plan He has for the child He has wonderfully formed.

 

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