From the moment I understood letters created words, I soaked in the pleasure of reading. If there was a book nearby, I remained immersed in its pages. Though a bit strange, even the aroma of books and libraries instantly soothes my spirit. Open a book. Breathe deeply. Smile.
In first grade I absorbed Charlotte’s Web with every ounce of my little being. Stuart Little became my family. Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing became my anthem. And when I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder, I knew I had been born in the wrong century.
The Little House on the Prairie series provided solace during the most insecure moments of my childhood. There were days I imagined myself to be Laura, escaping to the prairie and away from the mean girls prowling the playground. Laura was my heroine. I still have my yellow-boxed set on corner shelf. The pages are worn. The bindings reveal their age. And even now, if I take one out of the box and open it, the smell transports me back in time.
In the dream of one day having a daughter of my own to share my passion with, I purchased a new Little House boxed set as a young-adult. Years later, the anticipation welled-up within me at the words, “It’s a girl” during a sonogram late in my first pregnancy. When I tell you I couldn’t wait until she was old enough for me to start reading the series to her, I’m not exaggerating.
Giddiness welled-up within me the first time my daughter held a book to her nose and breathed deeply. She may have only been three or four at the time, and I had never with her shared my strange love of the smell of books. I just knew she was going to love reading Laura’s story as much as I had.
As with most of my parental expectations, I was wrong. In my daughter’s mind, Laura Ingalls could stay on the prairie until Jesus came back. Not only could Laura stay on the prairie, my little girl planned never to visit—ever. She refused to share my passion for The Little House books.
While it may seem silly and trivial to you, I felt as if I watched a long-held dream crumble and shatter, fragmenting my heart. I desperately wanted to share my Laura Ingalls love with my daughter. The realization we would never bond over such a meaningful part of my childhood wounded me.
In lamenting about this wound with a fellow Laura Ingalls devotee, God revealed this nugget: My dreams for my daughter are not always His dreams for her precious life.
Sit there for a few minutes. Let His truth roll around in your heart.
The dreams God has for my children are not my own. It is not my job to determine their dreams. God marks out the path for my children. Not me.
This one thought reminds me of God’s enormity and my inadequacy. And in all truthfulness, I am still on a fervent quest to discover God’s dreams for my own life.
A thousand reasons explain why we might attempt to dream for our children. Maybe it’s the unfulfilled dream of our childhood. Maybe it stems from the insecurities we face. Or maybe we fear most seeing them fail. As parents, we often see their talents and abilities and push them in the direction we feel those gifts should take them.
We have all cringed when witnessing parents trying to live out their own personal ambitions through their children. I watch teenage students agonize when they understand their dreams don’t match the plans their parents had for them. Pain-filled eyes often look to me for answers I can’t give.
When last did I ask God–What is Your dream for the two treasures You have given me to raise?
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’—this is the Lord’s declaration— ‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” God never promises success for our children. He never promises safety. But our Creator does promise us a hope and a future. Those are the same dreams He has for our children.
My dreams for my children should only be that they grow to love Him with all of their hearts, with all of their souls, and with all of their minds. I should only desire God’s dreams for my sweet princess and mischievous court jester.
You see, no greater dreamer exists than the One who creates and molds our dreams. His dreams for my children contain more glory than anything I can ever imagine. My wildest imagination cannot begin to picture where God will take my children. His dreams are so much bigger than my own.
The dreams of my children are not mine. They are God’s. My dreams should be His too.
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9