My daughter just turned 11. We have officially entered the stages of hormones and non-stop drama. The level of sass in this child is unbelievable.
I try to keep my kids on a fairly healthy diet so we limit soda and treats. So of course, when my kids do get these treats, they cherish every second of it. However, the other day her dad told her if she wasn’t going to be nice to her brother, he would take her soda away.
She said, “Fine.”
He said, “Do you really want me to pour it out?”
She said, “No, I will.” And proceeded to pour her soda out on the ground.
Lord, help me.
Watching her grow up scares me. Not just because of moments like that, or the drama and heart break I know is awaiting us around the bend. No, it is because I am afraid she will turn out like me. I don’t want to see her go through the pain that I went through during those turbulent middle school years.
I still remember those pre-teen years well. All the changes, catty girl fights, noticing boys and being heartbroken when they didn’t notice you. It was in those years that I was sold the lie that I wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, or cool enough. I simply wasn’t enough.
I allowed the lies to grow in my heart until I hated the person in the mirror. And that’s when I started to hurt myself.
I talked to myself in the nastiest of ways. I cut myself and hit myself because the physical pain was easier to deal with than the emotional pain. Later on, as a teenager, I drank, smoked, and did drugs to further numb myself. And I turned to any guy who gave me the slightest attention in the hopes that he would love me and somehow that would prove I was enough. But all these things I did only caused me more pain and suffering. It took many years and a meeting with a gracious, loving God to finally turn my life around.
And now I look at my precious daughter who is about to enter these years of turmoil. I hear her already making comments about how she is ugly, and that no one likes her. And my heart just breaks for her.
I do all that I can as a mom. I tell her she is beautiful. I tell her that she was made perfectly by a God who is madly in love with her. I tell her that she has intrinsic value because she is a child of the King of the Universe. I tell her all the things that I love about her. I read her books on the pre-teen years in hopes that I can give her the tools to navigate through it all. Every day I pray over her.
And then I let her go.
I let her go out into that cruel world knowing I have done all that I can. Now, it is up to her to choose.
She can choose to listen to the lies of the enemy or she can choose to follow her King. But it is her choice. I cannot make this choice for her, as much as my momma heart wants to. I have to let her choose. I have to let her go. I have to stand back and watch her fly.
And sometimes I have to watch her fall and get hurt.
Because this world will hurt her.
“There is no one that lives a life of no pain, for on each of us falls some sun light and some rain.”
And I know deep in my heart that as much as I don’t want her to hurt, pain can be a good thing. It alerts us to the fact that something is wrong, that something needs to change, or that we need to address something in our lives. The pain I went through in those years has helped me to become more empathetic and to notice those around me who are hurting. And without going through that pain, I never would have turned to God in order to be saved and rescued.
And that is what I really want. I want my children to turn to God so they can be saved and rescued.
I don’t really want my kids to have a life of ease with no pain and no struggles. That would make them weak. I want them to bend their knee to their heavenly father who loves them and then go on to live their lives for Him. I want them to know that this world is not what we are living for. And the more I remember that myself the easier it is to let go of my kids.
I am not saying it will be easy. Or pleasant. When they hurt, it is my heart that will also hurt. We will walk away from these tween years with ragged battle scars, our hearts broken and bruised. But in the end, the pain and struggles will drive us into God’s arms and if we let Him, He can use those things for good.
So just like that here we go. Off into the tween years.
Just like a river flowing out to the sea, there will be calm stretches, scary rapids, and maybe even a few heart-wrenching waterfalls. There will be moments when we think we can’t go on. There will be moments that break us and stretch us. There will be moments that we will look back on and think, “That very well could have killed us.”
But through it all, I am working hard to help my daughter see that she is more valued, cherished, and adored than she ever would dare to dream. That she has a courageous mother who will walk alongside her the entire journey. And that a loving God is watching over her every step of the way.
I will also remind her that God will use both the good and the bad things she goes through to mold her into the woman he has made her to be. After all, as a quote I love says,
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”