There have been a few times in my life when the Lord painted a bright red sign telling me I was headed in the wrong direction. Through circumstances, the specific answers to my prayers were vivid and unmistakable.
In my early college days, I prayed and agonized over whether a certain boy was “THE” one for me. I remember asking Him to knock me upside the head if necessary. He did. Pow! Not only did he show me that the boy was wrong, but once I was on the right track again, He pointed me to Mr. Right!
When my daughter was preparing to enter Kindergarten and we had some debt we needed to pay off, I had a clear, spine-tingling nudge from the Holy Spirit that I needed to go get an application to teach at her school. Three weeks later I had a teaching job, and the Lord blessed us through that job so that we were able to pay off that debt.
Now my daughter is a young teenager, and these past few days I have seen — and felt — an enormous WRONG WAY sign in my spirit. This sign has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.
You see, I have become the kind of parent I never wanted to be. It pains me to confess how far I have fallen. My entire blog’s purpose is to encourage…yet in my life walk I have done everything but be encouraging to the one person, besides my husband, who I love the most. I’ve been hypercritical. I’ve been expecting perfection. I’ve been looking at her and seeing ways she can improve rather than finding and acknowledging all those things in which she excels. I have been exasperating her with my overbearing expectations, wielding my tongue like a whip. I cringe inwardly as I see these things that God is revealing to me. What hurts the most is that the “fruit” of my actions is not borne by me, but instead it is felt in her, and it is rotten. Sinful.
She shared with me last night that she carries inside her a vault where she stores up things that people say to her. So when I told her that I was “gravely disappointed” in her for forgetting to turn in an assignment at school, she stored my comment away and then convinces herself that SHE is a failure, a grave disappointment, rather than her behavior. Our conversation went on and on, and as it did, God struck my heart with an arrow so sharp that I felt literal pain my chest. What have I done to my precious child so that she thinks she is bad, she is worthless, she would rather crawl in a hole and die than live?
This hypercritical tendency of mine ends now. I repent. I will speak encouragement and light into her heart. I will step back and let her make mistakes without making her feel like she’s lost my love and approval when she makes them. I will let her grow into the beautiful young woman of God that she was created to be; I will not thwart the Lord’s purposes with my acidic mouth. I’d rather lose my voice forever than say another hurtful thing to my girl.
Because she is precious, to God and to me, as well as to the whole world.
Lest I be discouraged, God sent me this “sign” from His word today, when I went looking for encouragement:
Zephaniah 3:17: The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
I don’t know about you, but I need to be quiet. To speak only when necessary, and then out of love, not out of manipulation or out of a desire to make my daughter into perfection.
My motives weren’t bad in and of themselves. I want my girl to be all she can be! But the Lord is helping me realize that I’ve been shooting myself in the foot — and her in her heart — by the way I have been going about trying to help her be all she can be. I’ve been expecting her to be “finished” rather than giving her the freedom to just BE.
So this afternoon we are meeting friends at the park. She’s going to play and be a kid. And I’m going to rely on Jesus to save me from myself.
Perfectionism is ugly. Being still — and quiet — is priceless.