This past Friday, National Daughter’s Day thoughts were posted all over Facebook. Even though I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a real thing, I decided to post a picture along with everyone else. As I looked for a picture to post, I found myself thinking back over the years spent with my little girl who is no longer a little girl.
I remember when Philip and I decided it was time to start our family, I wanted four girls and no boys. I grew up with three brothers, all boy cousins, and mostly boys in my neighborhood. I did not want a boy.
I got three of them - and one girl.
Let me assure you, I am most grateful for my boys because I came to realize that raising up the boys was a whole lot easier than raising up the girl.
Now, my daughter is raised, though it wasn’t very pretty a lot of the times, partly because she was a she and I didn’t really understand how to raise a she. But often wisdom comes from walking through something and surviving it. It comes from getting things right and from getting things wrong; from learning the hard way. If I had to do it all again, there are so many things I would do differently, and I just hate that. But I will say this, there was never a second that I didn’t love her with everything I had.
As I thought about some of the things that I learned I began to think about what I would tell her about raising a girl if she should have one of her own one day. Maybe I could help her be a little more prepared than I was.
So, to my daughter, in honor of National Daughter Day, that I’m not sure even exists, here a just a few things I learned about raising up a girl.
It was easier to teach the boys to respect women than it was to teach you to respect yourself. Imperfection is real and it’s okay. In real life, none of us will ever look like the model on the magazine cover, including the model. God says, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” I wish I had been more intentional early on in helping you embrace how God designed you. I would have reminded you more often that He does not make mistakes, and that you were and still are His masterpiece.
When you would make that…whatever sound it was, flip your head and roll your eyes, I found that counting to ten before I reacted never worked. I’m sure you picked up on that. I still maintain that telling you to, “Go to your room and lock the door because you would be safer there,” was a wise way to respond. I probably should have suggested that you run quickly, but you’re still alive so I guess it all worked out okay.
I should have listened more and advised less. I know there were times when you just needed to talk and sort things out yourself and you just needed me to listen and care.
I should have let you struggle more and I should have stepped in less. I now understand that there were times when I stepped in too quickly to fix things or to keep you from making a mistake. I actually got in God’s way when I did that. God uses hard times to draw us closer, to increase our faith, and to teach us to walk in His shadow and rely on Him fully. Nothing is wasted with God; He uses it all for our good. I’m afraid there were times that I robbed you of experiencing Him fully.
You and I never did the whole princess thing because I didn’t want you to think of yourself as a princess, and I didn’t want you to learn to expect to live the life of a princess. You are a child of the Most High God and that is far more important than being a princess. Jesus, His only son, did not come to us as a prince. He came as a servant. He loved people even if they didn’t benefit Him in any way. He slept goodness knows where because He was always going to and ministering to people. He washed feet, and He died on a cross. I wanted you to learn to walk in His footsteps. I wanted you to learn to put others first and serve without any expectations of getting something in return. And, in the whole process of trying to teach you that truth, I began to learn it more fully for myself.
Probably one of the biggest things I learned from raising you was really more for my benefit than yours. Because I loved you more than life itself, I had a hard time learning to surrender you to my Heavenly Father. I forgot that you weren’t really mine in the first place. God just gave me the amazing privilege of taking care of you for a while. There were times when you and your brothers became idols and because of that, I wasn’t able to be the Godly mom I needed to be. When God was first, your Dad was second, and the four of you were next, I was then able to be the mom you needed me to be.
There are so many other things I learned, but I’ll end with this because if you forget everything else I have said, this is the one thing you need to remember. I learned that staying on my knees for you was not a waste of time even though there were times that I was tempted to think otherwise. As I watch you in your new life, I realize that God was listening and He has given me the desire of my heart. There is no greater joy than to see my children walking with the Lord.
One last thing. Over the years my prayer for you simply became this, "Lord, teach her to love you with all of her heart, mind, soul, and strength." I knew that if you loved Him, you would follow Him, and if you followed Him,you would always be safe in His arms. There is nothing I wanted more for you than that.
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