When I was pregnant with both girls there were two prayers I would continuously pray: "Lord, give her a PASSION for you. Let her chase after you her whole life" and "Lord keep her safe and healthy". Every single day without fail I pray these two prayers over my girls.
Right away God answered one of those prayers a little differently than I would have imagined for Harper. I never dreamed she would be born sick and that we would nearly lose her. And yet through that hard period - I drew closer to God. I saw Him move in ways I had never known before. I saw Him work and still continue to see Him get glory from her story. Through the ashes of a hard time - He has given me so much beauty and opened so many doors to share my faith than I ever could have dreamed.
I am learning that praying for "health and safety" and praying for "a closeness to God" may not necessary go hand in hand. God has been teaching me this over and over in the last few weeks.
A few weeks ago when I invited my friends over to pray for our families, I shared how I had a lot of anxiety for my children and I just prayed constantly that God would protect them. When the time came around for my wise friend Bethany to share........she spoke something that has been circling in my head on constant re-play every day since. She said that she used to be the same way and one day God changed her prayers and she began to pray that He would just make them like Him. And if that meant her boys had to go through struggles or hard things in order to be closer to God - than she wouldn't want to pray for protection from that.
That hit me like a ton of bricks. I know without a doubt that it's the hard things in my life that have always made me seek Him. It's the tough times when I had no one else to turn to that I learned to trust in God. I want my girls to have a "perfect" tear free, pain free life........but that might be a life where they don't need to depend on God. And that's the polar opposite of the one thing I truly want for them.
Last Tuesday in my Bible Study we were studying fear and how we are not to fear because God is with us. Once again we began to discuss this very thing. Fear is the opposite of trusting God. And we can trust God with the little things in our lives as well as the most important things in all our lives - our children. He made them. He numbered the hairs on their heads. He already knows the plans for them (Jeremiah 29:11) We are kidding ourselves if we truly think we are "in control" here.
I'm not saying to just be reckless and tell your kids to go and play in the highway because "God is in control" or to not try to do everything you can to protect them and keep them safe. But I think at some point we just have to "Let go and Let God" and pray that God uses them.
I have a stubborn streak and when God wants me to learn something .....He often has to really hit me over the head with it. I'm not a patient person so God had to teach me the lesson the hard way by having me wait for a husband AND for a child. Clearly I wasn't going to learn trusting on His timing with just one area. So two discussions were not going to be enough for me to realize God is trying to teach me to change my prayers and my focus for the girls.
When I was at Dot Mom this weekend, Jen Hatmaker got up and said God had just given her this message to share with all the moms in the room to "relax". And then she proceeded to say almost WORD for WORD what I have said here above. I'm not the smartest girl in the world but I had to raise the white flag and say "Okay God - I get it".
She shared with us that being conformed in the image of Christ is NOT easy. As parents - we are to raise up disciples. What a concept, huh? Our biggest job is not making sure our children are the smartest or the sweetest - but that they are following Christ.
Something she said that really struck me was this:
"Don't be the reason your kids choose comfort and safety". I don't want Harper and Hollis to decide to take a desk job rather than following a calling to Africa to work as a missionary because I have instilled fear into them. Raise BRAVE kids. I don't want Harper and Hollis to remain silent in high school because they are scared to share their faith. Or because they think their mother will be a nervous wreck.
My prayers are changing. And it's hard. I DO want my girls to be safe and healthy. But the safest place you can be is the center of God's will. And that's exactly what I'm praying they will always be in. Whether that's a teacher in Texas or a missionary in the Middle East. My prayer is that they will be bold women for Jesus. That they will have a passion for Him. Period. No matter what path gets them there.