For as long as I can remember, there has been a part of my brain ever tossing around ideas for Savannah’s “coming of age” trip. That trip will take place, Lord willing, in less than 2 months. I have met few mothers who have shared this kind of dream and fewer that have understood why something like this would be so important to me. So today, I share why.
First, let me say that I am the mother of an almost 13 year old and an 11 year old. I do not have all of the answers for the teenage years. I do not think that I do. Rather I find myself spending more time now in pleading prayer for help from the Father than I did even when they were infants. And I was constantly pleading then. What I can say is that over the years I have seen God provide and protect me as a mother and that He has given me forerunner type thoughts on where to walk. And so, because its all I know to do, I am taking my cues from Him.
I am sure than many of you who stop by here each day have children older than mine and have experienced much that I have not. Again, I do not think I have all the answers. Im just walking this out as I am being Led. And trying to share it along the way as best I can.
This morning I was reading to the girls from a book I read as an early Believer. In it a portrait of Nicodemus is painted. But more than that, a portrait of Jesus is painted. Nicodemus, coming in the cloak of night, seeks Jesus. Jesus must have been exhausted from all that His days held. And here, a man that should “get it” doesn’t. A man that has every resource for understanding, is still seeking proof. A man that looks like he has it all together comes seeking to be whole. And Jesus, at the end of what was always a busy day, meets him, challenges his thinking and lights a candle in his heart. As I prayed with the girls I knew that today was the day to share why this “coming of age” trip, and my choices overall in parenting this season, were ripe to share.
Many moms I meet are tired by the time their kids reach school age. They are ready to get back to “their” life. And if they do choose to stay home through the elementary years, they do it with a sense that these will be the last sweet days of parenting. They are looking over their shoulder with dread knowing that the teenage years are coming – expecting that their babies, their pride and joy, will become their worst nightmare. Im not willing to hop on that train. I think it disrespects these young women I call my daughters by expecting so little of them, and I think it disrespects my God, who has carried me personally, and us as a family, through so much. I simply refuse to go there.
What I do expect in this upcoming season is a battle for their hearts – a tendency to exchange worship and service of the Creator (which has been possibly parroted in childhood) for worship and service of the created thing (themselves, their peers, the world). But that battle is just as strong for me, in the monotony of middle age as it will be for them. I expect for worldly identity, meaning and purpose to become very real lures. And if ever I have wanted to be there, to walk and talk it through, it is now. I want to battle with them. I want to ever point them to the Truth that Jesus came so that each of us can be freed from that insatiable monster of self. So that we can serve Him alone. I am learning it too.
Is it possible that the teenage years are hard on both the teenager and the parent because the growth involved rips back the curtain and exposes what was there, within our families and our hearts, all along? Impatience, unforgiving spirits, lack of servant love, weakness of faith, and expectation are suddenly, almost at once, in unison, before us? Could it be that what we really fear is our reputation as good parents being stripped? Of the respect we think we deserve being strangled? Or the realization that having older children does not equal less service from us? Could it be that we feel we have put in our time and now we want ease, but what is required is more establishment?
Again, I do not have the answers, but these are the questions that have led to my thoughts for years on this “coming of age” trip, for each of my daughters independently, as they pass over their 13th birthdays.
I guess you could say I am rejecting the wholesale cynicism of our culture regarding adolescence. I am choosing to see this as the golden age of my parenting, when the seeds take root. These years, in my mind, are not to merely be survived. What a waste that would be!
So as we plan for Savannahs trip I am taking regular moments along the way to infuse what its meaning will be, its representation. I want her to understand the "why’s of the trip" long before we get to them. Our plan is to camp for a few days alone together, taking in the beauty of nature and the testimony it sings everyday, in every space of the world. Camping is her very favorite thing to do. And then we will begin the ascent of womanhood together. Both figuratively and literally. Lord willing, we will hike together during that trip. My hope is that along that journey, and before and after it for years, I can refer to the figurative and literal shared views and vistas along the way, the cramped muscles, the need to work together at times, the value of someone cheering your on, the strength and patience needed to endure the task, the people passed and passing us along the trail, the tears and fears, the trust, the perseverance. The rebellion (wanting to turn back), the insecurity. And finally, from the top, the opening of her widening world and faith.
My hope is that I, on that trip, roll out the canvas upon which I begin to paint and cast vision for her future. Though I am not the Writer of her story, I have been uniquely positioned as her mom and the gift I have been given is painting with word and brush. I am confident those Gifts were meant for their firstfruits to be used in my husband and my children - painting ever before them how the Lord is calling them to Himself, His purposes, His joy.
I delight in this child. I find her lovely in every way. And I find this time in her life a priveledge to walk alongside her. I anticipate that we will both be stripped of much in these next years as mother and daughter. And I welcome that.
And so, with Jesus as my example, I am choosing to be available both night and day for her and for her quickly growing sister. Available with my firstfruits. I am choosing to continue this homeschool journey for as long as the Lord provides and Doug blesses it. I am choosing to continually encourage and challenge her, meet her and teach her whenever she is ready to meet. I am choosing to pray for her to be a beacon of Light. And if not a beacon, a torch. And if not a torch, a candle. And if not a candle, at least a spark to ignite others. Because I know that in womanhood our light will have varying intensities. I am choosing to give myself to her and to this journey wholly and with joy, not fear.
I think that explains the whys of this trip we are planning, and probably the whys of my mothering in this season. Everyday I am doing things that are important, worthwhile and lasting. I cant see why I would give this job up for anything! And I cant see why I would look ahead at its climbs as anything but an opportunity to reach new heights. Together.
Posted by .kp. on 3/24/2011