Whisper of Hope, Expecting Great Things

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 5:3

For any parent who has raised a strong-willed child (look to my parents and my in-laws), there are days where the battle feels relentless and hopeless. Add to a strong-will things like high sensitivity, intelligence, a low tolerance for injustice, and some big emotions that occasionally precede big reactions (if you’re still reading and can relate, hang in there…), then your battles feel exhausting, frightening, and completely out of control. As the parent who homeschools our children and is primarily the one with them, these battles have left me defeated, scared, lying on the floor in a hallway or in a bathroom, too spent to even weep. Fortunately, my husband has invested a good portion of his own sanity into similar battles with our kids and understands when I plead for permission to give up (yet doesn’t let me).

Any parent who has really spent a significant time in a constant power struggle with a child will know that at some point your mind starts to wonder about the future. It is easy, so easy, for fear to seep in. We start to wonder what their future relationships will look like, we fear about their (in)ability to function in school, in a job. On bad days we envision them in a hospital or behind bars and we shudder. Worse than the exhausting struggles are the places we go in our heads.

With children about to enter the pre-teen and teen years, my worries double. How can an emotionally volatile child handle the hormones of puberty?! I have to talk myself out of victim mentality because often a parent can feel wounded and traumatized by a child’s outbursts, words, tantrums. I have to remember that I LOVE fiercely beyond words these people whom God placed in my arms. I have to embrace the kind of unconditional love that the Father has given me and I cannot cling to a victim mentality.

This is where I’ve been. I’ve walked dark valleys and have spent far too little time on mountaintops as a mother. But I want to cherish those mountain tops! I want to hold those moments up as HOPE! In my dark moments, I need to remember the times that hope shone forth.

Today was one of those days. Our family joked about it light-heartedly, but upon reflection, it was a bigger moment to me than anyone else can imagine.

After picking up my very feistiest daughter (don’t correct my grammar, sometimes bad grammar is necessary) from a class, she quickly informed me that another student from her class was chasing after and tripping a friend of hers, another classmate. Apparently, this is common behavior. She informed me that she turned to said bully and in her sweet but deep voice said, “{Name of bully}, stop it.” Preach.

Our family joked with her…did you give him “the look”? Meaning, the look of burning rage that is usually directed at one of us. She happily confirmed and she informed us that he stopped and seemed almost surprised. My first reaction was (ugh, typical!) of guilt. I apologized for not getting to her class in time to walk her and her friend out of the building (I had no idea this other child was picking on anyone). But she consoled me, “It’s ok, mom, {Name of bully} needs to learn.” Hahaha! I internally laughed hysterically! Of course, my petite little girl would be the one to teach him a lesson! Of course she figured she was just the one to do it! No bully could imagine the fury they could face from such a sweet and soft-spoken girl! We applauded her and teased her that we were happy she was finally using her rage for good. She took the teasing well and I think she was empowered.

As sane human beings, we teach non-violence in our family based on the teaching and life of Jesus. Matthew 5:38-40 tells us not to resist an evil person. But I also teach my three girls that we stand up for others. We defend the cause of the defenseless. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” I teach them at a very early age that we cannot hit or bite others, but if there is a bad person trying to hurt them, they should bite and hit and scream. (As preschoolers, they are flabbergasted by this!) As they get older, we talk about what it means to stand up for others. I want my kids to be creative in the face of oppression, injustice, and bullying. A skinny, quiet little girl growling a command at a bully would certainly be unexpected.

The hope I was given by such a little incident was that indeed my child was created by a loving and perfect God. The very traits that I have tried to pray away or at least tame are indeed the very traits that God will use to change the world through her. Who will fight injustice except those who feel it so deeply and are passionate enough and, Lord help me, persistent enough to see the fight through? Who can grab attention with softly spoken words except one who has a fire burning in her eyes and belly? My prayer is no longer to quench that fire, but for it to be flamed by the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that my daughter grasps at a young age that her battle is not against flesh–mankind, but against the powers of the dark world we do not see. My prayer is that I can show her what it means to pray for my enemies and bless those that persecute me.

Our world needs more quiet voices that firmly and persistently whisper the truth. Whisper hope. In a time when we are overwhelmed by the voices that shout the loudest, the quiet truth will prevail. Hope.

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