She walked the polished tile each day to my classroom door. Bright smile. Tired eyes. Working her way through my AP Language class as a junior, M’Kaila would graduate a year early.
But what if I told you M’Kaila faced giants on her journey?
What if I told you she’d been homeless the year before, bouncing from one friend’s couch to another as her parents slept in their car?
What if I told you M’Kaila’s parents were hearing impaired–deaf?
What if I told you she’s now a college student?
It was hard. But she never gave up. Instead, she leveled her gaze into the eyes of her giants and slung her stones.
I am in awe of this beautiful young woman’s perseverance. M’kaila amazes me with her spirit—her ability to rise above adversity.
She reminds me of David. A boy who shepherded sheep alone in the wilderness, killed lions and bears, and faced the ridicule of his brothers and doubt of a king. A boy who stared down a giant with some rocks and a slingshot. A boy who trusted God with his life.
M’Kaila and King David inspire me to be a woman who perseveres. They inspire me to raise children who persevere.
But how? How do I teach my children to defeat their giants and keep moving forward? To get back up when they’ve been hurt or experienced failure?
I swallow hard the answer I don’t want to hear bubbling up from the depths. My hands press tight over my ears, shutting out what I know to be true because I only want to protect my children.
The answer I don’t want to hear? I must watch my children struggle.
Because sometimes our protective shields keep our children from forming their own battle-ready armor. If I want to teach perseverance, I must encourage my children to do hard things—regardless the outcome.
Several years ago, my daughter, Ella, was riding her bike down a steep driveway. She took her bike as fast as she could down the hill again and again.
Until she fell.
Tears rolled down her round cheeks, but no a bandage was needed. She was scared and a bit shaken, but otherwise okay.
So my husband and I did the hard.
We plopped her back on the bike at the top of the hill and encouraged her to go again. We clapped and cheered louder than our hearts hurt. Everything in me wanted to scoop my baby girl into my arms and take her inside—to protect her.
But if I had done the easy and shielded her from fear, Ella wouldn’t have felt the freedom of flying down the hill again that morning. And who knows how long it might have been before she climbed back on her bike?
Instead, my girl pedaled her feet one more time as tears continued to quietly fall. When she glided safely to the bottom where her daddy and I waited, tears turned to laughter.
The way to raise a David? A M’Kaila?
Allow our children to do the hard. Sometimes we must walk them through the pain, teaching them to trust their Heavenly Father as they go instead of shielding them from heartache or disappointment.
There are certainly times we must protect and shelter our babies. It is part of our parent job description. But too often, in order to keep them from pain, we forget that if we guide them through the difficult, they will learn the tools they need to cope with suffering later in life.
The thing about perseverance? It takes practice. Instead of allowing our children to give up, we need to teach them to go on—to move forward and trudge through.
God doesn’t call us to the easy. Following His footsteps can lead us into shepherding sheep in fields filled with bears and lions and giants. We must be ready. So must our children.
If we are to teach our children to sling stones to kill their giants, they must practice perseverance. It will hurt our hearts to watch. But their struggle is worth their triumph.
Let’s walk our children through the hard instead of around. Ours will be the children prepared to take on the giants of a broken world. Ready to stand strong in conviction. Equipped to share the light of Christ.
Take a deep breath. We can do this.
We must do this.
(It’s so good to be back, my friends. Oh, how I’ve missed you! But I’ve been praying for you this summer. Life is hard, but life is sweet…)