I remember so clearly the afternoon my Firecracker Girl came down from her afternoon nap when she was not yet 3. She had a crazy halo of bedhead, hair in her eyes and sticking out at every angle.
“Let’s brush that hair of yours.” It was my first instinct to say to her when seeing that mess. I don’t like messes.
Her immediate reaction, “I don’t want to brush it!”
Here we go again, the power struggle I had become accustomed to with this strong willed, feisty, firstborn of mine.
“But it’s wild!” I exclaimed
And then she said it, a phrase that has been burned into my memory, “I like it WILD!”
In that moment I felt the deepest truth had been spoken from the mouth of my first babe. “I like it wild!” She does indeed. This girl, she dances to her own tune, and it is a rather wild one. She may be the blue-eyed version of me, but she is far from having my perfectionist, neat and tidy, introvert nature. God gave her a nature all together different, and does it clash with mine so many times!
We are 10 years in now, her and me, into this mother/daughter thing and can I just tell you it has been perhaps the hardest thing I have ever undertaken. This girl, who made me a Momma, I love her fiercely and I have been fiercely undone by her precisely because she is so different from me in so many ways.
When my Firecracker Girl said those words… “I like it wild!”… for a moment something in me wanted to dig in and get her to brush her hair. Thankfully another Voice spoke and I thought to myself, Pay attention to this Janise. Listen to her. Let her be messy and undone. Let her be herself… her wild self. And so that day, I did.
But unfortunately more often than not, I have not. I often engaged those power struggles and it isn’t always because I’m training her in godliness but training her in my preferences. I engage the battle because I am the mom and I want her to do things my way, and there is a certain validity to this. She does live in my home and I do have a certain way I keep things and a certain rhythm to our life. But I have wondered over the years if I sometimes engage the battle simply because I am seeking to enforce my way of doing life without making space and room for her own unique personality and expression of who God made her to be.
There are of course times where my Firecracker Girl is expressing not her own unique expression of who she is, but her sin nature. And as parents one of our roles is to provide correction, guidance and training in goodness, godliness and the God-loving life.
But I am becoming convinced there is a place for discernment in all this. When do we engage the power struggle because we are forcing things the way we like it and when are we engaging the power struggle because it is our call as parents to train them up in the way they should go?
You see the problem is, as parents we are the ones God has placed in a position of control and power. The parent child relationship is not a partnership but a hierarchy. But at times I can confuse my preferences for God’s way… it’s easy to do as a person who likes things neat and tidy and who likes to be in control. And my girl, she does not tend toward the neat and tidy. Do I hope when she grows up she has learned to do laundry, clean a bathroom, cook a meal and clean up afterward. Of course! Is it okay if her house isn’t as neat and tidy as mine is? Yes.
This realization of the differences between me and my daughter has had me thinking about what Paul says in Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
We are God’s masterpiece. The word “masterpiece” in the Greek is poiema. It’s the origin of the English word poem and refers to something that is made, particularly a work of art, such as a painting, sculpture or piece of music. Each and every one of us is a masterpiece uniquely and masterfully created by our God. And so each of us will express the uniqueness of who we are differently.
My Firecracker Girl, she is her own unique work of art made by God. And for her to live into the fullness of who God made her to be, she needs to learn to dance to the unique tune her Maker made for her. She will have her own personality, preferences, passions, and gifts. God has planned her own unique, good things mapped out before the beginning of time. The Psalmist sings so beautifully of this truth in Psalm 139
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
My job as her parent is to help her grow into the fullness of her fearfully and wonderfully made self!
When I started digging into Ephesians 2:10, I noticed the first word in the Greek in this sentence is “his.” When the Greek puts a word in the front of a sentence, it wants you to pay attention to it. It is placed there for emphasis. So when Paul puts “his” first in the sentence, what he is saying is we are God’s masterpiece and no one else’s. Literally it says, “His masterpiece you are…”
My Firecracker Girl, she is God’s piece of art, His masterpiece, not mine.
Sure, God used part of my genetic make up to create her, but I should never confuse this as a reason to mold and shape her in my image. She is a unique, beautiful creation all her own. My job is to help her grow and mature into the fullness of God’s masterpiece that she is in Jesus Christ.
One of the biggest challenges and growth places I am learning in this mothering thing is to love my children well by letting them be who God created them to be, and not who I want them to be. They are made in God’s image, not mine. They are God’s masterpiece, not mine.
I still like her to brush her hair. She still prefers it wild. And some days, usually non-school days, I don’t mention anything about a brush.
On my good days, when I’m living into this mothering thing well, I just let her be the unique masterpiece she is, wild and free and becoming the unique work of art that dances to the tune of the God who wonderfully made her.