I gave a devotional a few weeks back at my church’s Mother-Daughter Banquet which was my first time really sharing something that God had placed on my heart for a long time. The title comes from the passage that first spoke to me when praying about this event and that is Ephesians 4:1-6
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Now, I knew this wasn’t a passage specifically about mothers and daughters but more about Christians in general getting along with one another and working together despite our human flaws. But as I reflected on what a mother daughter dynamic tends to be, especially in the teen years, a bond of peace seemed like a beacon of hope. That is what I want with my daughter some day, and that is what I needed when I was a teen. I started to wonder, why is it that as little children we all love our moms, then as teens we tend to lash out, rebel, push away, and then once we’ve grown, matured, possibly had kids of our own, find our way back to loving and appreciating our moms. I know every relationship is different, and I was very nervous to share my thoughts because I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom as a teen but it is improving. And I know I held back some thoughts or illustrations during my talk 1) because it was already pretty long and covering a lot and 2) because it’s hard to find a balance of how much to share about my life/my perspective while respecting my mom as well. After much prayer, studying, more prayer, worry, nervousness, more prayer, and a deep breath, I laid it out there. Here is the beginning…
First, a few definitions from our passage because I can be a word nerd and like knowing not just the general idea behind a word but the nuanced meaning behind why God decided it had to be that particular word and not another similar one.
Vocation- A summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action.
Lowliness- the absence of any feelings of being better than others
Meekness- a quiet and gentle nature, not wanting to fight or argue. Enduring injury with patience and without resentment
Forbearance- a refraining from the enforcement that is due; A calm patience especially under provocation
Peace- a state in which there is no war or fighting; a harmony in personal relations
The first idea that struck me in this passage was the request that we walk worthy of the vocation God is calling us too. Vocation does not necessarily mean our careers or where we are employed. Being a mother is a vocation. If God has given you a child through pregnancy or adoption then He has called you to be the mommy to that child. So daughters must understand when our parents, moms in particular, are guiding us and setting limits that it is because God has called them to train us up in His ways. But as mothers, we also have to remember that God is calling our daughters to their own vocation and we do not know what that is. I know as parents, we all want to see our children be successful, but unfortunately too many of us define success by earthly standards. We want our children to go to college, get fancy degrees, have “respectable” careers that fit our ideals, but that’s not necessarily what God wants for them. I know many mothers and daughters who have struggled because where the daughter is feeling lead is not what the mother had in mind. I love that peace is defined as harmony in personal relations. Harmony is not two people playing the same note, it is two people playing complimentary notes to one another. One is melody, the lead, and the other is harmony, the support.
I think one of the hardest aspects of parenting is discerning when it is our place to be the lead and when we need to switch to harmony in our children’s lives and let God become their lead. As parents, control over our children’s lives is something we lose a little more of each day, and it’s a test in our faith in God because it was never about us. Our children were given to us by the Lord for a short while and we must do our best to guide and lead them with our own walks and teachings, but at some point we must let the arrow go. And as daughters, we must know the importance of following, learning, and trusting in God before we can step out on our own. We must realize the privilege it is to be alive, and to be serving our Lord, and seek out His Will and vocation for our lives not what mainstream media and society says is success. It is so hard to be a child or teen and be different than the world, set apart, and called for a divine purpose. God has given you parents for this reason, a direct line of support, advice, and leadership in meandering through the minefield of adolescence but it is our human nature to fight that and push it away.
Both mother and daughter must not think they are better than one another, must purpose in their hearts that they do not want to fight, and must be patient through it all without resentment. I know that’s tough but it is necessary, for both parties. I think the hardest part is to continue without resentment. Holding grudges and anger inside of us truly eats away at our souls. We must learn to see each other through God’s eyes and forgive as God forgives. We are all parts of the body of Christ and we must work together for His glory. In our physical bodies, our major muscles are set up so that there are always opposing forces, one push muscle, one pull muscle. The only way to move is for one to yield to another, to allow the action the working muscle is trying to accomplish to take place. It’s hard to see which member in the mother daughter relationship should be doing the yielding or should be doing the work, but God gives us the answer to this.
When we look for passages in the Bible associated with parents and children many times Colossians 3:20-21 and Ephesians 6:1-4 come to mind. In Ephesians, both commands to children and to parents end with a direction back to the Lord. God is our balance, our counselor when there is a struggle. He is the one both mothers and daughters should be turning to in order to find that bond of peace. If both are believers then God in them wants to be at peace with the other. The anger, resentment, rebellion, and hate are not from Him, they are of the devil, placed there to hinder the bond between sisters in Christ, to hold both of them back in their race for the Lord. We can’t allow this to happen. I urge both moms and daughters to look past the outside evidence and emotion and see that deep down there is love there for one another. That each others actions are rooted in love and any misunderstanding or clashing of opinions is not meant to cause harm but to do good.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” God perfectly designed a child for the parents. Not only do the parents have life experiences and wisdom that God knew that child would specifically need guidance with but also God designed that child to challenge the parent, their faith, and their character. We wonder why our children know just how to push our buttons or drive us crazy. God created them that way to show us where we still need work to be more like Him. Because guess what? We challenge God, we fight, we rebel, we push against His Will, we run away, we yell and scream and cry and wonder why us? We can be the moodiest of teenagers in our walk with the Lord at times… and sometimes, it takes a teenager or toddler to point that out to us in a very visceral way. But God still loves us. Just as we must still love our children. Not just the “I love you because you’re my child” love but the I love you because I see your struggle, your pain, your abilities, your opinions, and I see you fighting with the Lord and His Will and learning the hard way, and I’ve been there too. It’s usually at the times that we are most pushing away help and love either from a mother or from God that we are most hurt, confused, upset, and in need of that exact love. God is strong and gracious enough to take the punches, forgive, and still love and fight for us, are we as moms able to be like that for our own children? And daughters can we trust that the limits set by our mothers, their wishes, and the experiences we have with them are all overseen by God and will ultimately shape us into who God wants us to be? Neither mother or daughter can do this alone, which is why we still need God living and breathing into our lives everyday.
So what exactly does God specifically command to children and parents? That will be part two, coming soon! I know I included it in the lesson that day but I felt like it was too much for one post, and probably too much for that one lesson, but I trust God worked through my mess of a talk anyways. Many blessings, my friends!