Usually my posts launch on Sunday mornings at 3:00 a.m., but today this post launches at 5:56 a.m. on a Saturday, the minute my first-born entered the world squalling loudly and beautifully exactly twenty-one years ago. Seventeen minutes later (at 6:13 a.m.), her twin sister followed in dramatic fashion, almost dying, but we were granted the honor of bringing home two babies as planned.
As they are acknowledged by the world today as free-standing adults in every legal sense of the word, I have been pondering what this birthday means from a parenting perspective. It’s turned out to be a significant birthday for me too, not because I can finally be free of them if I choose to, or because I am no longer obligated to bail them out if they get in trouble. No, this birthday is significant for me because our girls are launching into adulthood from the diving board my husband and I have built for them. I am pondering how well we did.
Here’s what I mean.
I believe it is the parents’ job to build a diving board from which our children then launch into the world. Think about times when you dove into the water and then turned to tread water for a moment to look at the board from which you just dove. Every adult has this opportunity. We get to turn around and look at the diving board that was built for us during our childhood and then make decisions about what we are going to change, if anything. Since the diving boards were built for us by others, our observations can be made objectively, then we can make changes going forward as we claim ownership for our lives as adults.
What a grave responsibility we parents have!
It is my hope that our daughters’ diving board gives them a great first dive, and as they tweak what I have done, they will surpass me in every regard. I want them to know and display God even better, and walk with Him even more closely. Because of that, they will then be able to make decisions even more wisely and live life better, braver, and cleaner than I have done. If that occurs, it will be because of God’s grace, not me.
I have been an imperfect parent. I have hurt my children at times with my words, tone and misplaced priorities. Our family has experienced turbulent times that God used to grow each of us. During such times my children watched me get it wrong many times before I got it right. Thankfully, however, God gave me certain guideposts that have served me well. When I have veered too far one direction as a parent, these concepts have put me back on course again. Here are some of the deliberate statements I have said to them one million times or more, and why I have said them.
“If you please God, you please me.”
My children are not to grow up to please me. They are to follow God wherever He leads anywhere on the globe, doing whatever He asks them to do. I set them free to do so. When they are in situations that require wisdom in the massive expanse of the gray areas of life, I don’t want them thinking, “What would mom do?” I want them to be free to lean into God’s voice instead of mine and practice a life of faith to do what pleases Him, not me.
“If I said it, you can trust it.”
I am not known as a prankster to the great disappointment of my family. I have been perceived at times as a Debbie downer, a wet blanket, or a party pooper. I know, but being a person that can be trusted is of utmost importance to me. I want people in my presence to feel safe, never be tricked, and to be treated with utmost care. Here is why I am like that.
It is my job to raise children who can grasp that God is perfect and trustworthy no matter what. I want my children to imagine a loving Father who is perfect and worthy of their trust. Of course I have not lived perfectly, but I hope to have related to my children in such a way that they can actually imagine that God is indeed worthy of their trust because they had a parent that almost was when she said, “If I said it, you can trust it.” For me, this endeavor of creating trust has always been about creating as little interference as possible in my children’s ability to see God accurately.
“I love you more than words can say.”
Here I sound like every typical parent on the planet. I love my children. They are my earthly treasures. By investing in them, I have invested in eternity. I have told them time and time again, that at my funeral I hope they can genuinely say to all in attendance, “We got to watch our mom love everyone, but she always loved us best.”
“It’s my job to raise you up to let you go.”
This birthday marks the day I have been talking about their entire lives. My job has not been to be their friend, but their parent. My job has been to raise them up to be contributing members of society. My job has been to raise up Christ followers. I have aimed to raise up women who know how to handle money, make wise decisions, make mistakes and learn how to fix those mistakes quickly and without blaming others, to forgive, and to be pure-hearted. My job has been to point them to God every step of the way no matter what they said back to me, no matter what their friends said, and no matter what the parents of their friends did, said or thought.
Parenting has absolutely nothing to do with popularity.
Today I am launching girls into the world with confidence because I am confident in God. He will give them what they need. I am always here when they need me, but they can do this thing called life without me as long as they remain close to Him.
Here’s what I don’t mean.
After writing a blog like this, my children might think they have to measure up. No, they don’t. I have had such a circuitous path to where I am today that I would be hard-pressed to not give anyone else room to do the same. So girls, the pressure is off. Whatever you do wrong, I will forgive. Whatever happens, I will love you. Just know this: I will never, ever stop praying the end goal, that you grow up to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
Hey world, I hope you enjoy my daughters. They are great people.
It is one of the greatest joys of my life to have you as daughters. I hold you in high regard and am proud to be your momma, as you like to call me.
Happy Birthday, sweet girls. The world cannot wait to meet you!
© 2014 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.