Even before a new baby is born, the parents imagine the person their child will eventually become. Newborn infants are adorned with favorite sports teams paraphernalia and dressed up to look like miniature versions of their parents.
We act as though our children are blank slates we’ve been given to write the story we want told. We sometimes mistakenly assume they are like sponges eager to absorb all the dreams and plans we’ve made for them.
But deep beneath those chubby cheeks and baby-soft skin lays a secret we don’t know and our child hasn’t yet realized.
Like a seed just beginning to grow beneath the ground, it is hidden now but will eventually emerge. It will be small at first—frail even. But it will grow larger and stronger and one day it will be revealed for what it is. If nurtured & trained well it will become all it is meant to be.
How will we parents respond?
The secret tucked away within your child is his or her God-given true identity.
God already has a plan for your son. He’s already written the story He wants to tell through your daughter. He has created each person specifically to uniquely match the mission He will accomplish in and through that person.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
~ Psalm 139:16
It is natural to want to share our passions with the ones we love most in this world. We want our children to delight in the same things we do so that we can enjoy doing them together. It’s fun to share similar passions with the young people we are hoping to pass the baton to as the sun sets on our “glory days” and rises on theirs.
But, truthfully—sometimes our teens don’t enjoy the same things we do. It is amazing how sometimes our very own offspring can be so radically different from us! Sometimes, our teen’s “secret identity” emerges and we’re not so sure we understand who she is becoming.
What about all the hopes and dreams I’ve had all these years for this child?
How can I relate to someone so different from me?
who doesn’t share my love of football?
or my passion for art?
or my knack for math?
Trying to reshape your teen into someone God did not create him to be will not alter his passions and interests, but it will grow bitterness and increase distance between you. Instead of trying to fit your teen into the preconceived mold you had in mind, ask God what He had in mind when He created her. Seek to discover who God desires him to be.
As God slowly unwraps who your teen is meant to become, embrace her identity as a gift from the Lord. Receive him as his own individual. It may mean you need to lay aside your own ego for the sake of your teen and God’s great unfathomable plan. It’s no slam against you if he doesn’t want to go to your alma mater or carry on the family business. It’s not a personal insult if she doesn’t share your interests or possess the same talents at which you used to excel (or still do!).
Humble yourself and learn from your teen in the ways he is different. Appreciate the strengths that she has that you don’t. Your teen’s differences from you in no way diminish you or your passions, but when you embrace them, they will most certainly enrich your life.
God made each person unique. He didn’t clone you when He created your children. You already exist. As great and awesome as you are, the world doesn’t need another you. The world needs the talents, gifts, interests, and passions God has implanted in your teen. God put those within your teen for a purpose.
Your teen’s irresistible desire to reach toward the unique calling God has planted within him is not a rejection of you. Rather, it is receiving and owning her true identity—the identity God created, not necessarily the one you imagined when she was born.
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
~ Proverbs 22:6 (HCSB)
Teach your teen about the way he should go. Not the way you went or the way you wish he’d go, but the way God says he was made to go. The way that will best display God’s glorious splendor.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
So let her shine in her own way. Embrace his differences. Learn from her. Never be insulted, offended, or threatened. Accept wholeheartedly the gift God has given you in your unique teen.
A rejection of the gift is a rejection of the Giver. He never makes mistakes in the way He creates people. You may think your plan for your teen’s life is pretty good (and it probably is), but always remember that God wants to do so much more than you can even imagine.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory!
~ Ephesians 3:20-21b
So step aside and prayerfully surrender your teen and your plans to God. Then give Him all the glory for His unimaginable plan that is far beyond than anything you can dream up.