My stomach tightened as we edged closer toward The Topic. My husband, Rich, and I had met two other couples at a restaurant. As we nibbled on our dinner salads, our conversation lingered over our college-aged children. At one time we'd all lived in the same starter-home neighborhood with toddlers in tow. Back then, we'd commiserated with each other over sleep deprivation and potty training. Tonight we commiserated with each other over the poor economy and our now-grown kids (some things never change!). One couple's child was pursuing a degree in accounting; the other couple's kid was pre-med. "What's your daughter majoring in?" someone asked me.
"Well," I said, fumbling with my words, "she's still not sure."
The truth is, our 19-year-old daughter still has no sense of direction for her studies, no compelling interests on which to build a major. In moments like these, I sometimes feel like our daughter is floundering, compared to other kids. It's a messy truth about me that involves pride, competitiveness, and my own unspoken personal agenda for her.
Thankfully, because I'm a Christ-follower, God through his Holy Spirit doesn't let up on hammering my agenda into something that more closely conforms to his. Since that date night with our friends, I've uttered more than once, "I'm sorry, God." Each time, he's graciously reminded me of his forgiveness for my misplaced pride. He's also brought to mind some of the times past in my parenting when I've tried to impose my developmental timetable for my children instead of patiently trusting in his. What fruitless endeavors those efforts were! As if that weren't enough, just this past Sunday our pastor said during his sermon, "Your goal as a parent isn't to create a 'mini-me.' It's not to fulfill your dreams or to impress your friends. It's to train your child to make great choices."
Deep down, I don't really want to turn my daughter into a "mini-me," even though at times I act like I do. That's part of the baggage of parenting most of us struggle with in one form or another. But the reality is, even if I wanted to, I can't. My 19-year-old already has a Creator. David reminds me of this in Psalm 139. Here's my own personal twist on verses 13,14 and 16: "God is the one who put my daughter together inside my body, and I praise him because of the wonderful way he created her. Even before she was born, he had written in his book everything she would do" (adapted from the Contemporary English Version).
These verses acknowledge God's intricate, purposeful engineering of each life, and his intimate knowledge of that unique individual's purpose and path. I must admit that this truth was a whole lot easier to recognize when my "floundering" daughter rested in my arms as a tiny newborn. Even so, I'm convinced my biggest challenge as a parent is to continue to remember God made my daughter "in a wonderful way"his way.
I don't know what my daughter will accomplish during her time on earth. But it doesn't matter what I know. As I surrender my pride and my goals for her to God, I learn more and more to trust that he knows where she's heading and what she'll accomplishand has it all written down in his book.
Jane Johnson Struck, former editor of Today's Christian Woman magazine, lives with her family in the Chicago area.