It’s meant as a compliment.
I know that. I really, truly know that. I know that, having blogged as much as I did, having written a book, being the daughter of a prominent pastor, and just being an older girl, I’m going to get things like that.
And yet, whenever someone looks at me and says, “I just want you to tell me everything your parents did with you so that I know how I can have kids exactly like you -“
I am horrified. I realize that doing something as simple as choosing to live at home until I get married (in lieu of going off to college and concentrating on my own career, choosing to develop my gifts within the context of the home) can seem radical to those who are new to the idea of being “ladies against feminism”… and because of our reality TV culture, we expect to be shown everything(“Don’t give me principles! Show me what that looks like so I can walk in lockstep!”)… and because there is a sense in which watching a good example is incredibly biblical (1 Corinthians 4:16)…
There are a few reasons why that phrase bothers me, though, and I hope that stating them here will help mothers desiring to raise daughters committed to obeying Christ no matter the cost.
Because Your Daughter is Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Your daughter was created uniquely by a Master Craftsman who had a particular purpose for her in mind when he was knitting her in her mother’s womb (Psalm 139). If that purpose was exactly like mine, the Lord would not have bothered making two different girls: he would have just cloned me.
I love to try and decipher Shakespearean text with the best of them -your daughter might be a marine biology expert. I used to play classical piano with so much passion -I loved it! Your daughter may play the drums. I study from home because I’m an English major, and I don’t think a classroom setting is a fundamental part of my education. Your daughter might be interested in nursing. Think outside the box -embrace biblical principles and apply them to the home the Lord has given you. Though your daughter is part of your family, and though you work together as a team, she has her own heart and mind that needs to be shepherded.
Because I am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Just like your daughter, I was created uniquely by God and being constantly conformed to his image, constantly growing and being stretched to overcome my flaws and to find my strength in Christ. Since I’m not too keen on world domination, I don’t fantasize about an army of little girls created in my image. There are also little quirks about me that you don’t know about -don’t assume that I’m bland enough to be a one-size-fits-all stereotype. Little girls need to grow up knowing that Christ is their standard -we are already prone to play the comparison game: don’t train us to do it.
Because I Think for Myself
My parents poured into me, it is true. I’m most grateful to them for instilling in me a deep passion for the Word of God, a thirst for learning, and an autodidactic bent. The part of my education that I am most grateful for is the fact that my parents gave me the tools to learn and decide things for myself. So I don’t necessarily like art history because my mother used the perfect curriculum to teach it to me (she took me to the Louvre when I was ten and I fell asleep). No, I like art history because, as an adult, I had the tools to research the subject and develop a passion for it on my own… based solely on the passion that my parents had already given me for learning. Education is a foundation for who your children are, but it is not the sum of who they are.
Because God Ordained My Parents for Me
And only me. This household is going to run differently than any other household on the planet because it’s got nine people in it that no other household has. And so does yours (insert number of people). My mother was never one to crane her neck to see what everyone else was doing, and my father was never one to follow the tide… and I don’t think you should be either. If you want to be parents just like my parents, then be parents who read the Word, submit themselves to the authority of a local church, raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, invest in them a thirst for knowledge, and laugh. Laugh a lot.
Because I am Not a Perfect Poster-Child
Don’t let the smooth taste fool you.
I am fundamentally flawed, and not merely as the result of imperfect parenting (my parents were imperfect -so were your parents -so are you), but as the result of the Fall. Yes, my parents did all they could to point me to the gospel of Christ, and yes, I do now love and claim him as my own, for I am his… but I struggle with insecurity, pride, anger, and stubbornness, too. If you’re looking for the blueprint of the perfect daughter, look elsewhere, for I am not it.
Because There is No 12-Step Plan for Poster-Children
True, there are valuable child-training principles that I have learned from my parents’ training, and from training my younger siblings. But the goal of child-training and child-rearing is not to create an army of children who walk in lockstep…. it is to foster in children a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why I love child-training books like Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Children were not given to their parents as little trophies to declare parental glory, but as little disciples to be saturated with the knowledge of Jesus (Col. 2:2-3).
Because the Lord has Done a Work in Me
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain. ~Psalm 127:1
All that I am, I owe to Christ Jesus. It is because he saved me -because he changed me -because the Spirit continues to work in me to bring me into conformity to my Savior -that you see any good in me. And any good that I can do, you have access to, not in anything that my parents or I have done, but in the deep fount of the gospel (Romans 8:26-30).
Because My LIfe’s Goal is Not to Point Others to Me, but to Jesus
I will talk curriculum with you all day long. And if you want me to teach your daughter an English class, just give me a ring. I will talk about child-training techniques until the cows come home -I have five siblings six and under: that’s the world I live in. I will talk to you about how you can minister to a daughter who is in rebellion. I will talk about tools of discipleship that have blessed me. And I will talk to you about how to come up with outside-the-box options for post-high-school education. None of those are bad things, and as long as I’m not being held up as a pristine standard of educational success, they are things that I am so passionate about talking about! These are all important, valuable things to discuss!
But what I really want to talk to you about how the gospel effects all of the above. I want to talk to you about the work that Christ does in the lives of each and every one of his own. I want to talk to you about the passion that unites his children: proclaiming his name throughout the nations. I want to talk to you as a sister in Christ -not a poster-child. I want to talk to you as someone who seeks to truly cares for each and every other sister in Christ in the unique ways that they need to be ministered to.
I want that for your daughters. I don’t want them to roll their eyes if they ever meet me because all they hear at home is, “Let’s follow this person” or “Let’s check this trend.” I don’t want to be a fad: I want to be a light for Christ. I don’t want to inspire you to follow me: I want to inspire you to seek his face.
If you ever tell me that you want your daughter to be just like me (or any other young woman for that matter) when she grows up, I won’t bite your head off, because I’ll assume that you mean you want your daughter to love Jesus like I do (at least, that’s what I hope you mean, if I’m diligently living out my life’s purpose: to show Christ to a lost and dying world). If you have ever said it to me, I don’t hold grudges. But say to me that you want your daughter to be like Jesus, and you may have to get out of dodge, because I’ll try to kiss you I’ll be so thrilled.
Say you want your daughter to be like Jesus, and you’ve given me compliment enough, for you have told an ambassador just what you think of her King.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ~2 Corinthians 5:20
Originally posted at All She Has to Say