Doing the right thing is even harder when it has to do with our kids; of purposely avoiding the pleasure of indulging our parental egos under the guile of "I'm just trying to be a good parent." That's a really hard pitfall to avoid but worth the effort if you can do it!
My daughter came home excited from school yesterday because she finally got the phone number of another little girl she's been trying to be friends with for a while. She was mentally planning play dates and phone conversations and Skype sessions. I was instantly conflicted.
You see, I met this other little girl a few months back at the school book fair so I knew exactly who my daughter was talking about when she said her name. I was conflicted because the other little girl is "that" kid, the one who everyone avoids because she looks a little funny and acts equally different. She's the social outcast, the one who draws negative attention and whose association is nothing short of a middle school death sentence.
In all honesty, my daughter has many of those same traits, mostly because she's such an individual thinker, has a personality twice the size of Texas and a voice that carries all the way to the west coast. She's teased because she's tall, because she's brown, because she's loud, because she doesn't wear her hair like everyone else, because she likes to play with Barbie's, because she likes to sing, and on and on. So I see how they could connect.
"R has adhd just like me, mom!"
I recently told her to try and make new friends and she's doing just that. I'm so proud of her and a huge part of me is truly happy. I have a daughter who isn't worried about looks or popularity or what anyone else thinks. Her priority is relationships and love. She's friends with the little boy who everyone forgot when he went through 2 years of cancer treatments. She was the only one who kept in touch with him, who talked to him while he lay moaning in a hospital bed, who showed up at his birthday parties. She's surrounded by the least of them. She is picking the people in her life based on who they are inside and on how much she can help them. In essence, she is being a little reflection of Jesus. What more could I ask for?
Have I not prayed for this her whole life? Do I not pray that she can stand against conformity, that she will stick up for the underdog? Have I not spent time on my knees begging God to make her blind to the world? Yes! I've prayed for all of those things and God is answering those prayers. He's making my daughter so much stronger than I was at that age...than I still am today. What a heart that girl has! It's a heart that's so full of compassion it lacks even the tiniest space for judgment.
“You have only always to do what is right. It will become easier by practice, and you enjoy in the midst of your trials the pleasure of an approving conscience.” Robert E Lee
But there is this other side of me, that motherly, human- and totally wrong side that worries that my daughter will be teased even more mercilessly for her association with this little girl. It's already hard for her and this will most certainly make it worse. She's doing the absolute right thing but I know how much it's going to cost her and it pains me.
The truth is, there is always a huge cost to teaching our kids to follow Jesus. They are going to do things like travel across the world and go to dangerous places simply for the joy of shooing a fly away from a child's face. They are going to live without comforts and people will ridicule them, maybe even hurt them. In giving our kids back to God, we make them dead, only to this word, but we still mourn them.
We teach them that nothing besides God is sacred, that to die is gain. Problem is, it's one thing to teach them that while they are safely snuggled in my bed or being fed around my table. It's quite another to watch them go out into the world and suffer.
It's still the right thing to do. It's the right thing for me- to teach my kids to live for God and trust that he will always guide and keep watch over them. It's the right thing for my children to do the right thing- to accept the joys that come from service along with the challenges and price that often go with it.
So, through gritted teeth and clenched muscles, with my hands clutching God's sleeve, I said to my daughter, "that is fantastic, baby! I'm so happy you found a new friend, what a blessing that is!"
And it really is.