Whether you’ve nursed your firstborn or you’ve been a spiritual mother to the children in your neighborhood, no matter how you arrived at motherhood the moment comes when children grow up and leave the nest.
Solving the Identity Crisis: I am a Bat NOT a Bird
The capstone of parenting, according to popular culture is to help children find their identity. While some of that philosophy is valid, it pales in comparison to what a kid decides to do with his new-found distinctiveness. To witness your child soar new heights with a deep faith coupled with assuredness is the real crowning glory of parenting.
When my third daughter was young, we spent many afternoons snuggling together reading the treasured children’s classic Stellaluna The story spins a tale of a mama bird who fosters a sweet, orphaned fruit bat named Stellaluna. After a period of making every effort to “act” like a bird, Stellaluna realizes that she is, in fact, a bat NOT a bird. She discovers her true identity once she accepts that she flies at night— not day, she craves the taste of succulent mango— not worms, and she hangs upside down, outside of the nest— not tucked inside the nest like her hatchling nest mates.
During her maiden nocturnal flight, Stella boldly unfolds her wings and intrepidly soars to new heights. Even though both bats and birds have wings, she discovers that her bat wings serve a particular purpose.
The Purpose of Wings
God reveals his wisdom and power through his incredible design of us and the rest of creation. Godly parenting requires that we take on the task of teaching our kids their purpose in life: the importance of obeying God and following his ways.
You have the chance to teach your kids to use their “wings” for the distinct purpose that God intended. Wings, as writer Jean Fleming attests in her endearing book on motherhood, A Mother’s Heart “to reach up to God and allow Him to set them free from fear of others, free from self-imposed limitations, and free to become all God intended when He created them.”.”
Your kids will eventually find their wings; there is no doubt about that. Whatever your parenting category —biological, foster, adoptive, or spiritual, we are merely instruments in God’s grand scheme. We can rest in the assurance that God knows what he fashioned when he created our kids. [bctt tweet=”Our most vital job as parents is to point them to their amazing Creator and teach them to know and enjoy Him.” username=”DeniseSultenfus”]
Finding Identity and Purpose in Life Through the Curly Hair Lesson
Another one of my daughters detested her curly hair. Others admired, often coveted, her chestnut ringlets that spiraled well below her shoulder. She journeyed through a hair phase where she constantly tucked her tresses into a tight bun, practicing out of sight out of mind. Inevitably at some point throughout the day, a coiled lock of hair fell from its form as if to remind her “I am still here—tuck, tie, twist, but this mane is what it is.”
Her girlhood and teen years waxed and waned with hair angst.
My curly girl transformed into a woman in what seemed like overnight. Her flame for the Gospel became heart-ignited. As she stood at the precipice of adulthood, her heart made plans, but she allowed God to direct her steps.
Then one day this daughter understood His perfect sovereignty. The perceived ugly duckling hair days that she hid in the abyss of her heart floated to the top and drifted away as she “set her mind on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.”
My daughter’s curly hair served her in much the same way that missionary Amy Carmichael’s brown eyes perfectly fit her calling in life.
The Brown-eyed Missionary’s Purpose in Life
Amy Carmichael was born in 1867 in a seacoast village of Northern Ireland. At three years old, she prayed that God would change the color of her eyes from brown to blue. The next morning she ran to the mirror, but her eyes were still brown. Saddened by the outcome, Amy’s mother gently reminded her that God did answer her prayer. He answered “no.”
Many years later, Amy became an extraordinary missionary to India often rescuing children from a life of prostitution. Skin bronzed by the Dohnavur sun, the brown-eyed missionary dressed in traditional Indian clothing fit in with the people whom she served.
Amy reflected that she now understood why she had brown eyes–a blue-eyed missionary would have been an oddity that never could have truly fit in with the people–and was thankful that God had persisted in His intricate and elegant design instead of catering to the wishes of a girl who had not yet met her calling. She even darkened her skin with coffee to further aid in her integration and assimilation into Indian culture. She did all of this, largely, for her Savior and the children she ministered to in India.
My beautiful daughter with the untamed hair serves as a missionary in Haiti. The girls at the orphanage aptly transform her thick curls into braids.
Contrary to the cover of most glossy magazines that encourage kids to create an image based on waist size or brand names, you want your kids to be Image-bearers of God. Girls are especially at risk for playing the role of trying to “fit in.” In their attempt to assimilate, they often lose sight of their individuality. Most disheartening is when they get lost on the road to self-discovery.
Help your kids dig a deep biblical identity so that when it’s time for take-off, they fly with an unshakeable self-confidence and with a resolute purpose. While they are in the nest, help kids discover who they are and what they are meant to do so that when they fly they soar!
God’s design always fits perfectly. As parents, our job is to show them how all the pieces fit together.
How do you help your kids find their identity and purpose?