I watched her as she considered her options in the store, jumping from one bin of flat stuffless stuffed animals over to the miniature clothing and back again. For thirty days my 5-year-old daughter had worked hard to fill a sticker chart (one of her love languages) and her reward day had finally arrived. For a month of no “fits or fights” she had earned a trip to one of her favorite stores, but now I could tell that she felt overwhelmed. The idea of the prize was motivation to help her break some bad habits, but now that she needed to make a final decision, she was suffering from choice paralysis.
The gift was good, but she was afraid to make a mistake.
It took all of my willpower to stand back and allow her to make the decision on her own. I wanted to guide her gently toward the multi-colored lion that I loved, or the bunny I knew she didn’t already own. But I waited, and she decided.
On a bright pink troll.
I’ll admit, it wasn’t my first choice. But after watching my daughter consider her options, something in her eyes changed when she knew in her heart what she wanted - and as we stood in line for the stuffing machine, there was nothing I could do to change her mind. I kept showing her the options I would have chosen, and she looked right up at me and said firmly, “Then you should buy that one for yourself, mommy.” And she went right back to hugging all that crazy pink hair.
I’m learning, slowly, that there are some battles in motherhood that I simply can’t fight - and that my daughter has quite a bit to teach me about confidence. This journey we’re on together as a family is a marathon, and far too often I try to sprint through it to get out of a challenging season or jump ahead to the next phase that seems more fun. But, like anything good and worthwhile, I’m learning that motherhood can’t be rushed. The lessons need time to take root, words and prayers need time to sink deep into hearts, and pushing my little one toward my preferred outcome might make me happier in the short-term, but what would it do to that sweet confidence in the long-term?
As I was praying recently, God led me to Colossians 1:9-12.
“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”
Oh, what blessing we might miss in our sprint through those seasons that feel unendurable! What bright and beautiful moments of encouragement might we miss sharing with our little ones as we rush them through life? Motherhood requires that strength over the long-haul, and frankly, I’ll never have it on my own. We are not created to be enough as mamas without Jesus pouring into us that glory-strength that brings beauty from ashes and joy from sorrow.
God, fill our weary and uncertain hearts with strength today so that we might be able to endure with joy this call you’ve placed on our lives. We’re in it for the long-haul, Father, and we can’t do it without you. Be near, Jesus.