We may have missed church last Sunday, but a blessing poured from it anyways, when my daughter and I had a great heart to heart. We used to talked like that all the time, but have gone through the typical teen years that have left me longing to reconnect with her for any given reason. That morning over coffee, became one of those blessings.
Let me back up first, because earlier in the week, I finally broke down. Our relationship was struggling again and we parted with neither of us feeling good about it, as I dropped her off to class. I began crying and decided to park in a quiet corner of the lot just to pray for awhile and think about things. In all honestly, it was more like throwing another tantrum with God.
After whining and complaining for awhile, I started asking Him things like ~ what could I do differently and to please help change my heart. After all, we can’t control or change other people, but we can control how we respond and change ourselves. It just became very clear that instead of focusing on her, I needed to focus on myself.
Releasing Control in Order to Trust
Boy did the flood gates open then! The prior tyrant was replaced by an overwhelming prayer and plea of submission that went a little something like this:
“Oh, God! I give YOU my child. I can’t do this anymore! I can’t change her or control her and she needs to be responsible for making her own decisions. She is a young lady, an adult now, and for some reason we’re having such a difficult time with this transition these last couple of years. Please help us! I can’t change her God, but you can! You can change her heart and mine.”
A mother holds her children’s hands for a while,
but their hearts forever!
Now, I have prayed plenty for Him to change my own heart, and I’m always praying for the well being of my girl, but I have (very consciously) never given or offered Him my child before. I have never been able to let go and trust her to His care like this before. It has been such a struggle as a parent, which I now realize, has also caused a lot of inner turmoil for years.
Coffee with My Daughter and God
So Sunday rolls around and as I said earlier, we missed church, but it led to an awesome conversation and time well spent together. It opened the door for her and I to share our beliefs with one another and discuss some of the differences we have.
I can’t tell you how much my heart swelled to see my girl so grown up! To hear her share her thoughts regarding spiritual matters again (you should know that we were shunned by our home church, and have gone through some traumatic adjustments during the last couple for years since then, questioning different things.)
I have been so afraid that the things we’ve gone through and what she’s seen me deal with, could perhaps be a cause for her to possibly lose her faith. This kind of fear can cause us to be overbearing at different times though, and can actually push someone away.
I raised her with strong Christian values and put her through a private christian school for 5 years, and believe I’ve done the best I could. It wasn’t until that morning over our coffee though, that I finally realized and accepted that ~ it is enough. I have done what I can so far, but now it’s time for me to let go. I raised her with certain values, morals and beliefs, but now she has to decide what’s right and true for herself.
A Path of Discovery ~ For Both of Us!
I was surprised that instead of being scared, how wonderful and excited I felt to hear her questioning everything – I just kept thinking, the roots are there, now it’s up to you God. She’s going through a season that what we all must – deciding what we believe in for ourselves instead of doing it just because mom says. I LOVE THAT! I want her to find her own way and never realized how freeing this could be (for both of us!) Not until I finally realized that my child’s salvation isn’t my responsibility either – that’s between her and God. It isn’t about me and never has been.
Of course, she’s been my responsibility to a certain degree, so I’ve followed and parented in the ways I believe I was supposed to, but now I need to let go and allow her to find her own way. I need to trust her and God, and I realized… give her more credit! I have to be willing to accept that it may or may not be the same path I’ve chosen, but I will forever cling to the scripture which reads:
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
(Pro 22:6 NKJV)
My fear of her losing faith due to all we have endured are the wrong thoughts to have. I realize, even as I write this,, that my thoughts there have been wrong. If anything, our experiences should only prove and strengthen the things she’s been taught! After all, in’t that what I teach others about too?
With Submission Comes Praise
As I’m busy processing these things in my struggle with God (in the corner of the parking lot) a shift began to happen with my thoughts, my heart and in my attitude. I began talking to and praising God, instead of fighting with Him. It went a little something like this:
“Father God, thank you SO much! I don’t know what made me think I could do a better job at this than you, but I can’t. YOU have my girl, YOU have her heart, and I trust YOU to take it from here. I never believed before that you could love or take better care of her than me, but I see it now. I’ll continue to lead by example as best I can, and be available to offer any guidance she may want, but I realize (no matter how much I may want to) I can’t shove it down her throat. I need to let go and trust her to your care. I will forever be here to love and support her in every way possible, but now I realize that she really is yours. She was really never mine to begin with and has only been on loan to me. You gave me the greatest gift I could ever receive during my time here and it is all I have ever cared about. I have always told her how she is my greatest gift, because I believe having her saved my life in so many ways, so THANK YOU God! Thank you so much for trusting me with her for this long. Please continue to help us adjust to this new season in both our lives. May she never question or doubt my endless love for her, especially during those times when we may disagree.”
My greatest mentor once told me, upon us being separated due to moving and physical distance, that our relationship wasn’t leaving or ending, it was just changing and evolving. I didn’t understand that very much until now. Even years later, it has been difficult to grasp and I don’t like it, lol! It feels like I’ve been grieving a loss, even after all this time and yet, my every visit afterwards throughout the years has been nothing but wonderful. I have been reassured and seen that our love and care for one another is still there and only deepens with time regardless.
The last time I saw him, I remember him saying, “Isn’t it wonderful to know that we’re part of the same family forever?” My heart and soul finally calmed at that and did a joyous little dance. That’s when I fully realized that I am a part of this Christian family no matter where I go and one day, we will all be together again for eternity.
I can see where having a trust and belief in that, is one of the biggest reasons why all of our traveling this past decade has been ok with me, and why I can feel at home anywhere we go (regardless of some inner conflict, it is what’s allowed me to relocate various times and work with law enforcement/FBI all those years.) However, I don’t believe I ever really fully understood it until now… Now, as my own daughter is grown and transitioning out of our home.
I have always believed and talk about how God’s greatest gift to us (besides His Son) is our freewill. He gave us the freedom to choose and in kind, we have to love our children enough to give them the same. Just as our Creator desires to have a personal relationship with us more than anything, He still wants us to make that decision on our own. He will not force us, just as we cannot force our children. There is no love in that. But, what a great gift it is when we can learn to let go instead! It allows us the freedom to love and accept each other in incredible ways! :)
We may not always feel like turning to God or praising Him, but my struggle with God in the parking lot is a good example of why we should (just like in Psalms.) God is patient and will allow us the freedom to work out our struggles with Him, if and when we are ready to. My complaints and arguments with Him soon turned into gratitude and praise instead… Which, in turn, became a blessing as well. Funny how that works, isn’t it?