by Christine Stahl

“To grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3, ESV)

In left field; that’s where your son plays. Not because he is good at that position but rather because he is pretty much not good at any other position. So he is assigned the outfield, in hopes that no one hits the ball in his direction.

In the classroom during parents night. The teacher avoids you. And you know why. Because she’s desperately trying to think of a positive comment about your daughter. The one who disrupts class, turns in incomplete work, and leaves a trail of papers, pencils, glasses and one gym shoe in her wake.

On the playground. Your child flits from one group of laughing kids to another, at each one met with fingers pointed at him to go find someone ELSE to play with. You watch him pick up a stick & drag it in the dirt, head hung heavy with dejection.

At the grocery store. A quick in & out you think. But a quiet request to your child turns into a full-blown rage. A lemon goes flying. You get slapped in the face. Then your child bolts down the aisle, feet & arms flying, knocking boxes off shelves. The shrieks turn to declarations of “You are NOT my mom. I hate you…”

Most of you could undoubtedly add to this list, right? And sometimes, when you are alone, the tears flow. And your heart breaks. And you decide you are a complete & utter failure. Your kids are too broken. Who are we kidding?! YOU are too broken. And sometimes, you wish to walk away from this mess you’ve made. This parenting disaster without any glimpse of redemptive value. And there, right there, is where God steps in.

You see, it doesn’t matter if your kiddo plays in the outfielder or as a star pitcher. It doesn’t matter if she’s the class clown or a member of the Honor Society. It doesn’t matter if others in the store assume you are doing everything wrong or hope to never look as desperate as you. While our dreams for our children might include accomplishment, happiness, safety and let’s be honest, good behavior, God’s plans for our children are bigger. Bigger, and quite simple. That our children become like Jesus.

God will use our children’s successes, failures, sins, triumphs, personality quirks and behavioral challenges to deepen their faith and mold them into the image of His Son. The truth is, only God knows what your child needs to walk thru in order to make this happen. And our part? To believe. Believe that God can and will work through the struggles to make our children like Jesus. Think of this. What if God answered our natural prayers for our kids? For their medical conditions to be healed, their special needs to disappear, their unique wiring to be re-wired into a more societal acceptable norm? What if they sailed through life in a manner that they were never brought to the place where they were confronted by their need for Christ? What if our children are so satisfied with this life, that they lose their desire for the next one? It comes down to this, surrendering to the will of God. Owning God’s dreams for our children and abandoning our own. It is not easy, but then again, is there anything we want more for our children than to be like Jesus?

* last paragraph paraphrased/condensed version of article found here.