More often than not, my daughter and I hear how much she looks like me. In many ways, she is the younger version of myself. We are very similar. What parent doesn’t like to hear that?
But it isn’t just in how we look. Our personalities are also similar. We joke and admit that this might not always be a good thing. Let’s just say my brother and her brothers may have similar stories to tell about their younger years.
I remember when my daughter was little and we would go to the grocery store. Of course back then it was a big event; everyone went while Daddy was working. My children loved getting the carts with the extension on them so that everyone had a seat. This allowed me to actually have room for the groceries. This event was never quiet and that was fine with me. Our three little children always had something to say. They were either talking with people we passed by or with each other. And there was the usual asking for things that I did not have on the list. (I learned quickly to fill their stomachs before we went.)
Even now, going to the store is a chance to talk. No one ever goes alone because we would miss out on catching up during these busy days. Going to the store has become an opportunity for those great, unexpected conversations. This is actually like when I was growing up, driving to places, tagging along for the chance to talk.
What I have noticed in our relationship lately is how we relate to each other. This summer my daughter will be sixteen, which is hard for everyone in the family to believe. The family would all agree they are very proud of the Christian, young lady she is becoming. But she is the baby of the family and no one ever thinks of them as grown up.
As these times of visiting become memories, I can’t help but think about the relationship between a parent and a child and how through Christ it is allowed to evolve. The child matures, but so does the parent. I believe this is what God expects. It is part of what He created us to do. As the child grows, so then does the parent. Each matures in their relationship with God.
We are constantly taught in scripture to learn from our past, to get better, to strive, to stand firm in each step, moving forward toward the goal. In Galatians, Paul makes his purpose clear, his motivation for every choice. At the same time he reminds them from where he came. With humility, he looks back at the life he once lived–what he once sought to destroy, he now lived daily to serve. He pointed out the impact his new life had. “And they were glorifying God because of me” (Galatians 1:24). He continues on to point out “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
These are words my husband and I have longed for our children to believe. And that in this belief would come the outpouring from their hearts into their lives. That their Christianity would be who they are. As Christian parents, I would assume we all pray for our children to obey the Gospel and remain faithful in the Lord. But as they strive for this, we must allow them to grow and we must make room for them to become what God has offered, allowing the child we know so well to become the Christian adult we have prayed they would become.
For this goal to be attained, God has made a very clear plan for us to follow. Yet, there are times when we can allow ourselves to become overwhelmed. Often we get to a place where this plan that seemed clear at one point, is now anything but clear. I believe we tend to forget that God has given us guidelines to follow daily, in our every thought and action.
The humility and the strength in Paul’s message is a pattern that must be applied when dealing with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Have we forgotten that our children will become our brothers and sisters in Christ? So when we find ourselves at a loss on how to deal with our sons and daughters, could it be we have left out this part of His plan?
Through the wisdom and humility of my parents, who followed God’s plan, I have been taught the plan of salvation. My parents were leading the way, walking ahead of me while I was a child. Now we walk along side one another as parent and child, but also as brother and sister. That is how God planned it. We move forward together, having died to self, living in Christ. Using the plan God gave us, there is no lack of communication between generations as feared by the world. Separation is not allowed to grow.
My daughter and I are similar, but we are different people and I am thankful for that. She is working to become the good she sees in me because of Christ. But she is also working to become the good she sees in her father, her grandparents, her uncles and aunts, her brothers. We are strong as a family because God promises strength in His members. Unity is demanded of those who follow Christ. That unity, that blessing, is applied to our children and our spouses.
If we do not find the answers that work, it is because we do not look to the true source. How do we talk to our daughters? We should talk to them as Christ would have us talk to them. How should we talk to our husbands? We should talk to them as Christ would have us talk to them.
We have forgotten that our parenting and our marriage relationships are all combined with the life that we live for Christ. We seek to save the lost. [After the age of accountability,] the lost are our children until they have obeyed the gospel. We are to treat them as He has guided us. And to the lost, we are to be approachable. We have been given far more opportunities with our children than any others.
Taking this further, we as Christian wives are to treat our husbands with the respect God has commanded. But also, if they have obeyed the Gospel, we must also apply the instruction we have been given for our brothers in Christ. We then are to include this in our treatment and reaction to them. If they are unbelievers, there is clear scriptural instruction for this as well. Acting as God instructs, the wife of an unbeliever might win her husband over by her actions.
There is not a situation that is not relevant to scripture. “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (II Peter 1:3). We have been given the complete source of success. “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (II Peter 1:10).
Do we have the perfect family? Absolutely not. But what we do have and strive to maintain is the peace that passes all understanding. I do not know what the days will bring for my family and myself. But I can say with confidence that God will continue to be faithful.
I have wanted so much for my daughter, as well as my sons. I have fallen short more often than I care to remember. I can say I have worked to encourage them to see that the only thing true and never ending in life is the plan of salvation given to all of us.
My sons have far surpassed me in size, but even before they were taller than I, they followed their father’s example in the respect and caring of the women in their lives. They respect me and my daughter, but they also take care of us. They make us feel protected. They are a blessing as they find their paths as leaders in the church.
When my daughter was little, I used to push her in the grocery cart. Now we push the cart side by side, both of us holding on. We have found a way to work together. People smile sometimes, because it really does not take both of us to push it to get where we’re going. But we find a comfort, you might say, in doing this together.
I can’t help but believe this represents our relationship. There were times when she pushes the cart, following me. Now, more and more, I am following her as she pushes the cart. She knows my mind and is able to find what we might need. She had become someone who has made my life fuller. Not a child who simply needs me, but a child who has grown into one who serves as Christ would want. We are growing in that unbreakable bond, that God promised us as His children–sisters in Christ forever.
By Julie Oehlert