I can’t tell you how many times in my parenting journey that I have wished for a set of instructions directly from God geared to that particular child at that particular moment. Unfortunately, that’s not the way life works.
Most new expectant parents have dreams about what their child will be like. Then, you actually have a child and realize that they come equipped with their own personalities right from the start, making their likes and dislikes known. Parenting becomes a challenge of give and take, a process of introducing new ideas and activities, encouraging those your child gravitates toward or excels in and working to strengthen areas of weakness. It is also a process of praying for wisdom and discernment to do what is right for each child.
My children’s interests have taken me down roads I had never thought I’d travel. Yet, even after over sixteen years on this journey, there are still times I’m uncertain of what the next step should be or how to deal with certain situations. Complicating matters even more is the knowledge that as my older children hover on the brink of adulthood, those next steps need to be initiated and taken by them. I’ve become a mere advisor and support to the process.
Recently. I picked up The Oak Inside the Acorn, a picture book written by Max Lucado and illustrated by George Angelini. It tells of a little acorn reluctant to leave its mother. The mother oak reassures her child, “Within you is a great oak, Little Acorn. Just be the tree God made you to be.”
Sure enough, in time, the little acorn does fall and is transported away where it falls in some dirt and begins to grow into its own oak tree, always remembering its mother’s words. A little girl soon becomes its friend, swinging on its sturdy branches, building a tree house, and finding comfort in its shade.
Over the years, the little girl becomes a big girl who is scared to set off on her own. The tree knows that she has to leave to become who God made her to be. It just needs to find a way to tell her.
The Oak Inside the Acorn is a beautiful book to share with children to help them realize that God has a special purpose for their lives, but its lesson is also important for parents. Whether your children are small or big, it serves as a reminder that our children are God’s children first. Parenting is a long process of letting go, of providing roots and structure but allowing children to grow and spread their wings to explore the world and discover what God wants them to do.
God made our children. They belong to Him. A big part of our job as parents is to help them discern God’s call and encourage them to answer it, even when it means that they leave us behind.