“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV
The other day, I was talking to the mom of a 16-year-old, and she was telling me about her child’s current behavioral issues. I have no experience dealing with a rebellious teen, so I just offered encouragement and prayer. Then she made a comment about teens being difficult. Afterward, my 13-year-old told me that she will be an easy teenager since she was such a difficult little kid. Her words were true and her sentiment sweet, but something about that proclamation just didn’t sit well with me. I pondered the conversation for a while, surprised that my daughter views herself that way. I came to realize there were two reasons why.
First, those hard years were harder on her than they were on me. She had a lot of struggles, and it broke my heart to see my innocent little girl constantly struggling. Yes, at the end of the day, she was cranky and rude to me, but anyone would be. I didn’t want her to feel as though she had already used up her allotment of grace. In her difficult time, she grew in strength, grace, and compassion; and I want her to know I hold nothing against her for that.
Secondly, having easy children is not the goal of parenting. I didn’t have kids to make my life easier. Raising my children has been hard; they have caused me immense struggle and heartache. They have brought me to my knees in prayer, but that is a good thing. I needed to grow and change. As a result, I can be not only a better parent but also a kinder, more patient person now.
I want my daughters to be bold and strong. I don’t know what they will face in life, but I know that they will face it with the strength and courage that God is already cultivating in them. The present struggles and pain are refining them in a way that coasting through life never could. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). If we want to prepare our children for greatness in whatever they do, we must teach them that the road will not be smooth, but it is worth the struggle for the eternal glory to come.
Children face constant pressure to be who the world wants them to be, so as their moms, we need to reaffirm that we love them and appreciate who God made them to be, for “[they] are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV). In God’s goodness, He created each of His children with a purpose, and He gave us everything we need to succeed in that purpose. We must shed light on our children’s gifts; after years of cultivation, those very assets will be what sets them apart as adults. We must remind them that God created them just as they are with a very specific purpose.
After pondering my conversation with my daughter for a few days, I invited her for some alone time and told her what I am sharing with you. While her comment wasn’t out of a place of hurt, nor was it significant to her, I think it was important to have this conversation to reaffirm that I see her heart, and it is beautiful. I hope that, if you have been struggling with a “difficult” child, or if you have seen them struggling in the world, this message will encourage you to take heart and keep your long-term goals in mind. God made our children the way he wanted them to be with just the right skills to fit into His perfect plan for their futures. We need to observe our children and learn their strengths and gifts in order to encourage them and steer them down the path God has laid out before them. We need to remind them that God, their loving Father, has set them apart for greatness (Jeremiah 1:5).