My oldest daughter, Noelle, was wearing her Captain America cape, my youngest was in her pink Anna cloak, both of them dressed their Elsa gowns (it’s all about Frozen in this house) on New Year’s Eve. “Come on, Autumn! Let’s go save the world!” my oldest called to her sister trailing behind her, as they scrambled down the stairs. Just a few days later, a horrifying display of hostility, anger, vindictiveness, and destruction ensued in our nation’s capital. On top of the countless other acts of violence and hate in recent memory, my heart has been so heavy for my girls, aware that this is the world they have been born into. But, I cannot remain in that head and heart space. I cannot be buried in my phone with that awful “smiley face above my nose,” (as my oldest calls my furrowed brow) while I ignore my girls and get sucked into reading the latest atrocious headline. As the mother to my girls, I am called to read God’s Word and pray. Oh, pray, dear Mamas.
We made the difficult, but prudent decision to keep our girls home with me as their teacher this year due to the pandemic and my husband’s job. It’s so easy to allow fear to decide that I will homeschool my girls all the way through college. But, God didn’t bring these babies into the world just for my benefit, or for my husband’s pride, or for our amusement, and certainly not to hide away from the world. I think back to how Jesus’ mother Mary must have felt when Jesus was a toddler. He was so innocent, so loving, so happy, and the world was everything the opposite, as it is now. When Jesus was a tween, she and Joseph nearly lost their minds after looking all over for him. They finally found Jesus in the temple, where he was teaching and asking questions beyond his age. She must have felt both proud and terrified, that her baby boy, the son whom she could not keep hidden forever safe from harm, would soon be grown up and on his own. He had his own calling on his life. He would not follow in his earthly father’s (albeit step-father’s) footsteps and be a carpenter all his days. Mary was faithful to teach Jesus the Scriptures and then let him out into the world when it was time. Even to the point he was crucified in front of her, murdered by a senseless, angry mob. How her heart must have shattered when she heard Jesus cry out, “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they’re doing!” She, his own mother, could not yet understand the depth or the significance of his sacrifice until later.
My prayer for my girls is that God would act as baleen, filtering out the negative, impatient, distracted words or actions against them, and that only the positive, true, life-giving things feed their souls. I pray that they never lose that sparkle in their eyes or the magic in their imaginations. That they would always believe that every person, no matter what they look like, will respond to a wave and a smile, and has a story worth sharing. That their childlike faith would grow deep roots, giving their souls, hearts, and minds an anchor to cling to, when it seems that everyone and everything has failed them. May they believe it down to their toes that God is with them always. I pray that silence and stillness would be a comfort to them, particularly in this ever-distracted age, because only in that space does God make his voice heard. May they never succumb to earthly, temporary temptations that slink around and claw at them for attention. I pray that they keep their minds fixed on that which is true and right, extraordinary, pure, and beautiful. I pray that God sets angels to keep charge over them all the days of their long lives. As their mother, I would love for them to not have to experience pain, or heartache, or sickness, or financial hardship. But I don’t want them to live comfortable, easy lives, either. I want them to be brave and be bold, to take risks and stand up for what is right, and let their lights shine so brightly that everyone who meets them will see that they’re different. A kind of different that draws others in. A kind of different that doesn’t spotlight themselves, but the kind that declares the love of Jesus inside them. And my prayer for myself is that I would trust God with my girls. I realize they will inevitably make decisions that don’t make sense to me, circumstances will not always comply with my wishes, but I will trust that God has plans for each of them, plans for their good, and plans that will change their generation for good.