I slip earbuds into my ears to find that she has chosen my music to be the backdrop to which she finds her words. She’s in her first ever creative writing class and to everyone’s amazement, words ease out of her like a knife passing through soft butter. My daughter is a writer and she’s a dang good one. She’s so good, in fact, that she recently used her gift to cut right through a girl who had tried to smear her name in the mud by suggesting that she had favored a few boys from the neighborhood.
My daughter, upon discovering the rumor, logged on to some account, tapped out a few lines of knowing accusation and a couple of lines of condemnation, and then, just to spice things up a bit, she added a few explicit social media acronyms to make sure she was clearly understood. The whole thread read, at worst, like an explicit excerpt from some gang bangers novella and at best, like a revamped version of West Side Story.
We were enlightened to the whole social media exchange when, on Friday, a neighbor came storming down to the house in the middle of Hurricane Hermine and banged on the front door. I answered the door with a plastic smile because in the south, hurricanes are better than snow storms. We stock up on bread and milk and then hunker down with Netflix in order to get our chill on, if you catch my drift. Nine months from now, the entire eastern part of the state will be birthing babies and naming them after Hermine.
But I digress.
I answered the door with my plastic smile and a Diet Coke and was hit with one statement: If they went to the same school, my kid would beat yours up.
I stood there wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and knew she was speaking truth. Her kid could kill all of my kids with one fist before my kids even knew they had been punched.
You wanna have a seat? I asked her. Sorry for all the maxi-pads. I’m still wrapping them in bundles for all the schools. It’s crazy, really. Who’da thunk it?
She took a seat and my husband joined us at the table and in minutes, a tale as gnarly as you can imagine spun shame and guilt and anger into my heart. I wanted justice for my kid. I wanted a swift kick in the pants for the kid who had spread the lie. I wanted to reach across the table and snatch a knot in my neighbor for thinking my daughter should just suck it up, forget the lie and be friends with her kid because kids are gonna lie.
But mostly, I wanted to march upstairs and grab my daughter by the shoulders and rebuke her for the ugliness in her heart. I wanted to condemn her for word choice and strike fear in her for ruining her life on social media. I wanted to rake her across the coals for her blatant disobedience. I wanted to shame her for screwing up and draw out the kind of conviction that brings with it a sackcloth and ashes.
And I wanted to intervene on behalf of the Holy Spirit and forcibly bring her to a place of humble confession and repentance of sin.
For days, I’ve rolled around in my head every spoken word and every written word and every word not said. I’ve considered ripping my kid right out of public school and right out of the neighborhood and right out of her youth group. I’ve fought the desire to move into full on damage control and behavior modification and manipulated repentance. I’ve thought about quitting this church planting gig and even considered what I could do to save face in my neighborhood and at the local Piggly Wiggly. I’ve challenged the goodness of Jesus and His plan for our life and I’ve even questioned His method for capturing the heart of my girl because the last few days have not felt good or right or true.
But most of all, I have wanted to forgo creating a culture of grace in our home in order to curate the perfect life that will produce the perfect picture of man-made Christianity.
I have wanted to rewrite the family rules and regulations. I have wanted to control lunchroom seating arrangements and basketball court games. I have wanted to rule with an iron fist and a tongue of fire. I have wanted to withhold love and acceptance until repentance is seen. I have wanted to make a disobedient heart pliable and soft under the weight of my fingers. I have wanted to render surrender under unpleasant circumstances and I have wanted my eyes to prick the soul of my baby girl.
I have wanted to believe that I can control the work of God in my daughter’s life.
But I am not the Holy Spirit.
I am a mama tasked with loving my kids, pointing them to Jesus and simply making space for the Holy Spirit to capture their hearts.
And y’all, I’m here to tell you that Jesus is after our mama hearts as much as He’s after the hearts of our kids and He is forever asking our hearts one thing: Do you trust me with your children enough to make space for my Spirit to capture their hearts?