My two oldest daughters, Emily 11 & Jessica 13, are at that self realization stage in their lives. It’s a challenging time, they’re figuring out who they are and who they aren’t and what they can become. As their ages would suggest, they are in different places in this journey, but at the same time similar. In some ways the younger one seems to be rushing headlong into the fray while her older sister proceeds with caution.
A few weeks ago, after a particularly challenging evening, I was talking with the 13 year old and I asked her why she had acted as she did that night. Her response, through tears, was “I don’t know! I don’t know why I do half the things I do anymore!” Her frustration and confusion was palpable. Ah yes, welcome to puberty. 😀
Her younger sister has always been the tough one. I’ve written about her struggles as she approaches puberty before and they continue. The nature of her personality – driven, fearless, outgoing, selfish – means she gets in more trouble than the others. She’s not a bad kid, not hardly, but she just rushes in headlong and before she knows it, she’s busted. At times, in the evening after a particularly tough day, she lays in her bed and cries. “Why am I this way?” she asks. It’s hard for an 11 year old to understand why she seems inclined to sin. Of course, she doesn’t see the more subtle, but not less serious, ways her sisters sin, to her God made her worse than they.
Different questions, but both rooted in the bigger question of “Who am I?” My answer to both, at least in part, is the same.
Pay attention, God’s calling you.
I told them both that this is God showing you that you need Him. In their failures, God is watching (I wonder if their loss of innocence breaks His heart as it does mine?) and He’s waiting for them to realize that they can’t make it on their own. He’s calling them in their inadequacies. The answer is not for them to work harder to be different. Although that’s needed, it’s not going to ultimately fix the problem. Try as they may, they’ll never make themselves into the person that they want to be, let alone the person that God wants them you to be. No, I believe that in this common struggle, God is there, knowing that He has the cure, calling their names, hoping they’ll respond.
“Emily, you need me to make it though. You cannot do it alone, you will continue to fail. I can help you do it, in fact I’ve already done it for you.”
“Jessica, without me you are nothing. You aren’t who think you are, you don’t even know who you are. But I know who you are and what I can make you.”
My goal isn’t to make them into better people as much as it is to point out the voice of God calling to them and help them to hear it and by listening, to be transformed. Because I know personally that all the hard work in the world does little but prove how inadequate I am. It wasn’t until I dropped my fight and turned to Him that I found peace with my self. If they will hear Him calling, drop their own fights to be better and follow Him, then he will make them better.
It’s a lesson that I still need to remember all too frequently.

8 thoughts on “God Calling

  1. Sounds like you have a great relationship with your daughters salguod.. keep hanging in there with them.. encouraging them.. believing the best about them.. not giving into your fears.. holding steadfastly onto God’s promises for them.. and accepting them for who they are and not who you want them to be.
    Just a bit of advice from a dad who made a bunch of mistakes (especially that fear thing) when his kids were teens 🙂

  2. Can’t we just skip that part in parenting? I guess I got some time to get ready for that. I hope I don’t waste it.

  3. Umm, dude, this is just my opinion (a father of an 11 year old named Emily also…), but your kids are way to young to be worrying about being perfect. That is a burden that they should not have to be carrying at 11 and 13. They are just children, for HIS sake….Children…that’s it. Why are they so caught up and stressing about the sin in their lives? We can’t control our own sin, how, or why, would we want to control our kids’ sin? What a horrible burden to have to bare as so young an age. Although we see the example of Christ becoming a Rabbi at 12, we also know He didn’t get baptized for righteousness sake until He was 29 or 30. It is okay for our children to have a spiritual mind set, but dealing with sin, and its complications and repercussions at so young an age seems extremely dogmatic; moreover, somewhat legalistic. I hate using that L word (legalistic), but it seems appropriate. The heart of Christ isn’t how we deal with our sin (as commonly believed in certain circles), or our attitude towards sin…Christ main concern was our passion for our love for God and others. We can’t apply some post Restoration well intended misnomers of exactly how that love is expressed (by how we act and what we do), no, we must look at the heart of how fall down in love we are with God’s Character. We know through Christ exactly what this is. HE is mighty, strong, loving, caring, bold, gentle, meek, beautiful, kind, gracious, wrathful, merciful (and this one is the best one, because according to Christ, offering mercy IS the act of loving our neighbor!!), and powerful. HE is someone who adores children and innocence, he cares so deeply about people who just want to love him and please him. Being self analytical has its place, but it is a heavy burden for children. The goal and sum of what God wants from us is to love Him and our fellow mankind. Questioning why we are sinful is spinning wheels on ice. It serves very little purpose. Righteousness is fruit of a good tree baring good fruit, not a goal. If you have created an environment of your daughters wanting to please you by being frustrated by their sin, then that is asking them to do something that even God isn’t asking you to do. We must all live with mistakes, and the frustration of blowing it. Yes they will learn how to overcome the wrongs in their life, but it seem that with out understanding the depth and intensity of God’s grace, then all they are going to see is how “wrong” and how not perfect they are. Well, my wife just told me that I am coming across preachy, so I’ll lighten up. Truthfully, I am preachy, it is a weakness that will be overcome the more mercy I learn to offer you and others.
    I don’t know the circumstances of these events that you are mentioning. I know you are strong in your example, and your work for God’s people is tireless…you are a champion for children and always put them before your own needs, you are a most excellent brother. If my Emi is struggling with what is normal for puberty, i.e. raging hormones and fits of over emotionalism, boys, self-centeredness, vanity, wanting to fit in and not fight the peer pressure to sin, anxiety, depression, and what more? Why is she like that? because she is normal, that’s why. Being who we are as a person before Christ must first be explored before we can understand what to repent of. We can’t be so afraid to let our children sin that we are calling it out. IF there is immorality or something that is harmful to others, perhaps letting them be who they are without Christ comes second, and obviously there needs some intense intervention. When and if they are constantly being asked to deny themselves (which is only a standard of adult disciples of which the Lord only asked his followers to do, not children) then they will never know who they are. We knew who we were when we became Christians because of the light and dark study. If we are constantly trying to keep our children in the light, then what did Yeshua die for?
    Well, that is enough. All we can do is teach them, and ourselves to Love God. Granted dude, this is just my POV on things, but it has been hard earned and I am really sure of myself. I know I don’t know the details, and for that I ask more grace and mercy, but I had to share my heart.
    Much Love and even more Christ!

  4. A wise man has his wife proof read his comments … 😀
    I’m not sure that we are that far apart. My point is that in being who they are, they are discovering sin. I think that part of my role as a parent is to expose that sin when it happens and instruct them in it – what the sin was and how they got there. But I cannot keep them from sinning nor should I try, at least completely. They need their own conversion experience, and they cannot be converted if they are prevented from wandering away.
    This is hard stuff, I wrote about before the prodigal was a prodigal and how the father must have felt as he watched his son drift away. To a lesser extent, every parent goes through that. The urge to fix every situation and prevent every tragedy is huge, but must be avoided.
    My point here wasn’t to prevent their sin, but to expose it to them. That they would see themselves as sinners, not needing to change and become perfect, but needing the one who can change them. I want them to see that they cannot be perfect so that they will turn to the one who is.
    Does that make sense?

  5. My point here wasn’t to prevent their sin, but to expose it to them. That they would see themselves as sinners, not needing to change and become perfect, but needing the one who can change them. I want them to see that they cannot be perfect so that they will turn to the one who is.

    Why does an 11 year old child need to see themselves as sinners? They aren’t sinners at this stage, and showing them their sin and the root of it is adding pressure to what is a difficult time anyway. Just let them wait till they study to become Christians, otherwise, your example is enough. I think you are missing my point. There is no reason a child should take on the role of a sinner, when we aren’t sure as to whether GOD Himself sees them as sinners at that age. I understand that we want to stop our children from living a life with the pain of sin in it, so we teach them about it, and want them to understand it so they won’t endulge in it…but I am telling you, the more you do this, the less likely they will become believers later. You are burdening your children with weight that adults can’t even handle. I know you want them to see why they need Christ, but there are other reasons a child needs Christ than Him dying for their sins. One of which is the fact that it was because of, for, and through Christ that we have the mountains, stars, seas, and trees. It is because of, for, and through Christ that He revealed His invisible qualities through the beauty of the earth. We can learn so much about the mercy of God, just be studying nature. Reproduction for example is a most excellent example of God’s mercy on the earth. What more? But to have your sin pointed out to you, and to have someone show you your sinful nature when rampant insecurity is taking over your life anyway, especially during the years when hair and blood is in places that they were never before, and boys want to be curious (at school and so forth), and other girls seem to not be as impacted, and it just goes on and on. It is not a burden that I would want to leave my child with. When my Emily starts to become serious about becoming a Christian, then the outward nurturing can begin, other wise my example, and our house hold bible studies will have to do. I hope perhaps you will reread what I wrote the first time and just put it to some thought, because it looks like we are still coming from two different schools of thought.

  6. Paul, I had this wonderful (in my mind :-D) response written and just lost it by accidentally hitting the back button. Let em see if I can summarize before lunch is over. 😛
    I do appreciate what you are saying. We both came from a spiritual history that put a lot of pressure on folks to get in the baptistry. The kids of church members probably felt that more than anyone as they heard it all their life and they know that once they hit puberty, it’s time to get baptised. I hope not to put that pressure on my girls. They need to find Him on their own in their own time.
    The conversations I’ve detailed here are rare, maybe 3 or 4 times between the 2 girls ever. They are not the cornerstone of our parenting. Rather, they were a response to the girl’s own questions – why am I like this? Why can’t I do the good I know to do? Why do I choose the wrong path? The answer, in part anyway, is sin. Humans sin, we are not able to live up to the standards of God (or of ourselves, frankly). They are learning that now, seeing that truth being played out in their own lives. It may not feel good, but it’s true.
    I don’t know if God is yet holding them accountable for their sins, I have no idea when that happens. That’s God’s business and he’s not telling us. Frankly, I’m glad that I don’t know because it lets me assume that he doesn’t yet. As time goes on, I must guard against being anxious about it and increasing the pressure on them to be baptized, to fix it.
    I had hoped that my words would bring comfort and hope, not pressure. Comfort in knowing that they were not alone, we all sin and fall short. Hope in knowing that God has already provided the solution in Jesus.
    The truth is that we sin. They are at the age when they are learning that and I want them to understand it as it happens and to know that they are not alone and to know that something can be, or rather already has been, done.

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