Her name jumped off the sign up sheet. The pencil marks bold, as if written in black permanent ink IN ALL CAPS and highlighted for good measure. I knew she wanted to go. We'd talked about her going. Somehow, I wasn't quite ready to see my girl's name on that sheet, in her own handwriting. Only 11, yet she'd taken the plunge and signed up to go on a mission trip without her parents.
The previous summer, she'd cried as I left for 10 days in Peru. This time, I'd be the one in the parking lot waving goodbye, crying on my husband's shoulder as our girl journeyed across the state to minister in Jesus' name.
God had orchestrated in my daughter that, a few short months earlier, I would not have thought possible. I am humbled and grateful that He used me as one of many instruments in that process. Her first year of middle school was filled with adjustments. Drama weighed heavily on her large group of friends, straining some bonds and severing others. I was distraught. I complained. I attempted to control. I wanted my daughter to have strong friendships with Christian girls, not stormy relationships with drama queens.
I felt the Spirit nudging me. What are you willing to do about it?
Realizing I needed to be more proactive, I broached the subject of a group Bible study. An only child, my girl loved the idea of having her friends over every week. I carefully selected the material and the other girls who would participate. We spent the next few weeks learning how to find and to be a godly friend. I watched these girls, apart from the pressure of their larger social circle. Gone were the quiet, perfect "company" manners. They openly discussed the pitfalls of being a tween girl. They entrusted me with their fears, spoke their hearts, and listened intently as I shared my testimony. What surprised me most of all was my daughter's boldness, her willingness to confess her sin in the presence of her friends and to share what God was teaching her. Listening to my child bare her soul, not caring if there were any ramifications, took my breath away.
And to think, I could have missed it.
Throughout my daughter's life, she'd heard me talk about teaching youth and adults in Sunday School. She'd seen me invite women into my home for Bible study. I am ashamed that, until her 6th grade year, she'd never been the focus of my ministry to women. I'd allowed the popular notion of women's ministry - and my own desire for a thriving, important ministry - to decide to whom I would minister. As a result, I neglected the calling on my life to mentor this young woman in my home. She, the one female I am charged to minister to, care for, love and teach the most. I needed to make a change. It was time to fight for my girl.
I decided to minister to my daughter by being available to listen and pray. To laugh and cry. To give advice. To cover wounds with the balm of soothing truth.
I vowed to teach my daughter how to be a godly wife and mother. A woman who knows how to make wise choices. A woman who understands her need for Jesus above all else.
I determined to disciple my daughter by demonstrating what it means to be a woman of prayer and of the Word.
I committed to lead by example.
Nearly three years later, my girl and I have a much stronger relationship. It's not perfect. We have our differences. On any given day, we might drive each other crazy. Yet deep down, I know she's aware that she's the most important female relationship in my life. She knows that even though I fight with her sometimes, I fight for her all the time.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
~ Deut. 6:5-7 (ESV)