It was 7:50 a.m. She and I were standing at the back of her new classroom — a place I never imagined I’d be. At least not at this point in time.
My girl stood hunched, holding her stomach, and sobbing. Students were swirling as they settled into their desks. Some concerned, some oblivious. And there I was contemplating how I would hold it together and not snatch her out of there that instant.
“Please take me home, Mommy. I just want to be home. Please don’t make me stay.”
It was day four of our heart-wrenching new reality, and things weren’t looking any better than they had on day one. Due to some difficult life circumstances, we’ve been thrown into the process of slowly trickling our three elementary-aged kids out of homeschooling and into a small charter school. This particular daughter of ours was the first to get a spot off the waitlist. And by waitlist, I mean that we applied one day, thinking we’d have a couple months of waiting to pray and prepare. To our great surprise (and heartbreak), we received a call the very next day letting us know they had a spot in the fourth grade. For one of our eight children. Yes, we could have said no. She’s our daughter, after all. But God was orchestrating these events. We weren’t about to say no to Him. We love and trust Him with our lives too much to stop now.
Sometimes He leads faster than we’d hope, and in ways much different than we’d ever imagine.
We hadn’t even told our kids. It was so new, so fresh. Up until this point, any mention of a change in our schooling methods was kept to whispers between husband and wife and God and man.
Her new teacher smiled a reassuring smile and encouraged me to go with the nod of her head and compassion in her eyes. With the largest lump imaginable lingering in my throat, I hugged her, kissed her, and told her it was going to be okay.
We both needed a reminder right then. Because there wasn’t an ounce of okay in this scenario.
In the middle of the crisis we found ourselves in, we knew that God was asking us to make a change after homeschooling these ten years, even if temporary. I was a mess. But we needed change. There was no way I could keep up the pace of our new normal and not implode as a result. Even so, I was a mess. Upset that life had landed us here in the first place.
After three days of sad drop-offs and pick-ups, here we were again. I knew I couldn’t turn away from what the Lord was asking us to step into. But in the process, it felt like I was turning my back on my girl.
Was He really asking us to do something this painful after all we’d been through? Apparently He was. And is. It’s a means to an end. We know we’ll get to the good part. We do.
Hope is dangling out in front, and we’ve decided to chase it.
While I was so focused on all of the “character building” and “growth opportunities” I’d been faced with in recent months, it was now clear it was her turn. I wanted to protect her with everything in me. To run back to the car with her and never look back. But I couldn’t. I had to be strong for her.
This was her time. An opportunity to overcome. To do the really, really hard thing God was asking her to do. We’d talked about this at length. She understood that Mom and Dad were having to do the same. We all were.
If I would have snatched her off of the road I knew was our road right now, I would have robbed her of the chance at growth. It would have stunted her. She wouldn’t have seen the victory, which came that very afternoon, as hers. As the Lord’s through her.
And that’s an important thing for a child to carry with them. Moments of triumph become a notch on their faith belt. An entry into their very own God’s Faithfulness Archive.
This story is ongoing. It’s not perfectly wrapped up in a neat little package now, only a few weeks later. But that afternoon at pick-up, I saw a different girl. She bounded out of her classroom with a smile that lit fireworks inside my heart, as she gushed about the GREAT day she’d had. A word I thought had disappeared from her vocabulary.
“What changed today, sweetheart?”
“Well, I decided to take your advice. I decided to enjoy it and not focus on how hard it is.”
Did I really just hear my ten year-old say that? It was a victory. A huge victory. One that was between her and Jesus. One of many more to come.
We can’t rescue our children from all of life’s fires, but we can give them tools to extinguish them. We must give our children chances at victory apart from us.
As a mother, I’m learning that once I’ve given my children the tools, I need to step back and allow them room to grow and practice trusting God for themselves. It’s kind of like teaching a child to ride a bike. We hold the seat to steady them until they’re ready to pedal and balance on their own.
If we were to continue to hold onto the seat even though they’re ready to zoom down the street alone, it would ruin everything. They would lose their balance and possibly fall. The best thing we can do once our children are ready to pedal without help is to let them. Cheer for them and help them when they fall, but let them tumble within the safety of love and family. It’s the way they grow. It’s also how they begin to understand a life of faith. Our children will face trials of many kinds throughout their entire lives. It isn’t our job to rescue our children at the first sign of trouble, but it is our job to teach them about the God who saves them out of their troubles.
May God receive all the glory for the victories won in the lives of our children. Because there will be victories.
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