It’s interesting that the biggest thing that hit me was in that conversation was a side comment my mom made as she maneuvered from one woman’s comment to the next. The woman (I don’t know who it was) described her journey to gaining her own testimony and that it was a battle. She had to fight for it. And she won.
My mom said, “you’re so lucky that you had to struggle!” before the next woman began to chime in. Or at least that’s what it sounded like from my somewhat garbled end of the line. And it hit me so hard that it brought me to tears. And now I’m in tears thinking again about it right now. Because I wonder if we (Dave and I) are giving our children the opportunity to “struggle” enough?
Before we built our house we asked everyone we could for advice. We wanted to know all the ins and outs of what it would take before we were up to our elbows in the work. We gathered all kinds of tips from near and far. But as we moved into the actual building phase we realized we had NO IDEA what we had gotten ourselves into. Sure we could learn to stay away from the same mistakes others had made, but we, in our own unique situation, had a whole different set of decisions puzzle pieces that we never could have anticipated.
I feel like testimonies are so much the same. We can gather advice from far and wide. From our parents during scripture study, from teachers, from friends who have been through trials and made mistakes. From friends who have made it through tough times and continue to shine. But when it comes right down to it, WE are the only ones who can really build that testimony for ourselves. We have to be the ones firmly placed right smack dab in the middle of the work. We can’t borrow it from anyone else. Neither can our kids. I’ve realized the last couple weeks that I’ve been trying to spoon feed this stuff to my kids rather than being ok with them to have their own “struggle.”
The problem is that often I don’t really know how to do that. I want so much to give them all these precious pearls but they’ve got to open their own hearts to them. And often they do, but opening their hearts may look completely different to them than it does to me. They may have their own “born again” experiences like my mom did on that hill during the pageant (talked all about that back HERE) or something smaller like I had kneeling by my bedside in my little bedroom surrounded by mint green and peach hearted wallpaper pouring out my heart on my knees. But maybe their testimonies will be more just remembering and grouping together the myriad of smaller glimpses of light that help build their spiritual connection to Heaven…and are we the ones as parents who create those? I think we can be a powerful force in that way, but in the end it’s got to be up to them. I know that the purpose of this whole thing is to help kids recognize and weave together all the light infiltrated into their lives in a comprehensible and tangible way. But I think that it isn’t as simple as all that.
Because you may have a mom who feels compelled to add a little lesson into everything she says and a child who may not like that way of teaching….or who has gone deaf to it years ago. Or you may have a child who doesn’t realize the importance of searching and is complacent to have things handed to him. Perhaps our kids will never have that real “born again” experience we tend to cater our mothering to create. Perhaps in some ways we are stifling the opportunities for growth through our incessant teaching. I don’t know!
The bottom line is that we may not know how to do this thing. BUT GOD DOES. These are His children and He wants them to be born again even more deeply than we do. We need to be healthy conduit in His hands and let our kids teeter without us holding them up sometimes.
And that is scary.
But I am so glad for that little epiphany my mom gave about “how lucky to have that struggle!” because sometimes we want to save our kids from them. I LOVE discussions like that one that help nudge us toward what we need to do for our own individual families and individual children. And nudge us toward prayer as depicted in that beautiful painting Dave gave me for Christmas. Because I’m convinced that what the scriptures say is true: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
I need to let my children do their own asking and knocking, and not be afraid of that struggle that is so personal and unique for each of us as we seek for our own answers.