Thursday, February 01, 2007

Walking the tightrope

My daughter and I were laughing a bit about yesterday's post. She knows I am joking, and she took it all in good stride. I did notice, however, that I was laughing a whole lot more than she was. She knows the strength of our convictions about purity, and she agrees…as long as we keep it solely on an intellectual level.

We talk all the time about God, about making decisions (of all kinds) based on biblical principles. We pray for wisdom in situations where we don’t know what to do.

But I’m realizing more and more that the convictions that shape my own thinking are still not completely hers…yet.

Especially when it comes to boys.

Mostly because on an emotional level, she is still 13. She has a God-given attraction to young, obnoxious, hormone-laden middle school males that defies anything intellectual whatsoever! Like most girls her age, she has had her share of crushes, disappointments, and hurt feelings that come with the territory of adolescence.

On a deeper level, though, when it comes to my daughter’s faith, I feel that this year – seventh grade - she is standing on a tightrope. Now, don't get me wrong...she is a GREAT KID. I just think this is the time, just like many kids her age, when she is making heart decisions about who she wants to be and about whose lead she is going to follow. I do believe she wants to follow Jesus.

However, if I hover a little too much - box her in with too many rules, make her endure a few too many lectures - I could, with barely a whisper, make her lean too far to one side. She could take all that we hold dear and, quite simply, reject it. Or, just as frightening, she could lean to the other side, giving an outward show of compliance just to please her parents. But would her heart be hiding rebellion?

More than anything – and not just with our oldest (we also have a middle school son who is making these same decisions) – I want to find the balance. I want to go for their hearts. I want to find the place where we are clear about boundaries that uphold our values, while offering freedom to explore within the boundaries. I’m okay with it in most areas, but when it comes to the opposite s*x, I want to protect them so badly. I have to restrain my tendency to go overboard on the rules-and-regulations, legalistic side of parenting.

Can I keep my hands from constantly trying to prevent them from experiencing failure? Can I offer encouragement – as one who has walked the tightrope before – to pursue the narrow path, without being overbearing or making decisions for them that they are capable of making themselves? Can I challenge them to a high standard without discouraging them or making it seem impossible? Can I listen without trying to “fix” them, and allow God to do His work?

And mostly, can I believe that God is bigger than my imperfections as a parent, and that He can draw them, even in spite of me? So that some day, their faith will be all their own.

This is my constant heart prayer, especially as I go through this new stage with my oldest children. I know He is faithful.

The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying:

“ Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

Jeremiah 31:3


Anonymous said...

Katherine, I'm right there with you. Even though my oldest daughter is only 3, I already am thinking about how I can express to her the vital importance of following God's standards for our lives, without going overboard and making her run the opposite direction. With all my kids really. I want them to learn from my mistakes, but as you said, in the end they have to make those decisions out of their own love for God, rather than because their parents told them too. The more I think about it the more I realise that this is how God must feel, but to an even greater extreme: he loves us, creates us, and then lets us go to make our own choices. And sometimes we reject him. He must weep.
Sorry for being so heavy!

Anonymous said...

This is a timely post. I was having a conversation with a couple of friends I homeschool with talking about our various choices between public or private high school and thinking through these same dynamics. So tough. You just love them so much and it hard to remember that God can use it all for good.

Emily said...

Ok first of all- it sounds like you are doing such a good job praying and loving your kids!! they are SOOO lucky!

I was in 7th grade when I first became interested in God/accepted Christ, and the year I was 13 was really the formation of my faith, my desire to follow God, and the solidifying of His and my "best Friendship" :-). That was absolutely one of the HARDEST, if not THE hardest, year of my life (lots of loneliness, hurt feelings like you described, friendship/insecurity issues, etc) but SUCH AN AMAZING foundation for loving God through high school and now into college/adulthood!...

a HUGE part of that was a book I read at the beginning of 8th grade- "Rachel's Tears" by Beth Nimmo and Larry Scott. It is the biography of Rachel Joy Scott, a Christian teenager who was killed at the Columbine high school shootings, written by her parents. From what you've said about your daughter (and from the fact that I think EVERY Christian teenage girl should read this book!!), I think she'd really like it. Rachel's passion for the Lord, for life, for being a kind and compassionate person, for purity (sexually and otherwise), and for truly "walking her talk" as she puts it in the numerous journal entries that are included in the book gave me a picture of the kind of Christian I wanted to be. And it's clear that it is ATTRACTIVE to be that kind of person, if you know what I mean- it definitely shows the SACRIFICES that Rachel made, and her imperfections, but all in such a way that it is clear her life was rewarding and full- perfect for a 13 year old!
Anyway- I highly recommend it! -->

Emily :-)

Emily said...

oops, didn't work...

and sorry, the authors are Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott.

Caroline said...

So hard being a parent, huh? I am so thankful we have a wonderful, faithful Heavenly Father to help us when we cry for wisdom.
I just started reading "Age of Opportunity" this week. Such a good book so far.
My almost 12 year old still looks at boys like great friends. I am so thankful but {shudder} at what lies ahead.
I am so thankful for your blog. I feel like you are a step in front of me.
Keep on writing....

Deidre said...

Such a great post, Katherine. My children are 5 and 18 months, but I am so interested in how to make righteous decisions. I fear making the wrong ones, which isn't trusting God fully. It's difficult.

Thanks for your post.

Elise @A Path Made Straight said...

It is definitely frightening. I sometimes am so afraid that I start clenching my fingers into their little shoulders now, and they're still so little!
Open lines of communication - so very important. I want my kids to feel safe in coming to me - I want to be their friend, yes - but I still desire the respect of a parent. And I long for God to guide the path for me, of course.
Great post, Katherine!

Granny said...

May God guide you as you walk this tightrope, looking up to Him instead of down at the cliffs below. We've been amazed to watch God work in the lives of three of our nine, leading them to the spouses we'd been praying for since their conceptions. But oh, the anxiety along the way can totally defeat us if we don't look ahead to the beautiful men and women God is shaping right here in our homes. Don't be afraid of the questions, the struggles, the paradoxes. He is there inside every one of them.

Susanne said...

Boy, I am walking through all of this now, except I feel it is multiplied ten fold as mine are turning 17, 15 and 12. And I'm really mulling over all things to do with balance and going for their hearts and freedom within the boundaries. Oy vay.

Beck said...

My 7 year old daughter announced this fall that she was in luv, and although she's no longer in luv it's been a good time to talk with her about all sorts of things. This post really hit home for me - I'm hoping that she goes back to thinking boys are yucky for a few more years now.