While driving to school the other day, Eden started to sing, “He’s got the whole world in His hands” so Joeli and I joined him. He then started a verse, “He’s got the strong little boys in his hands…” Joeli and I joined him, but then after saying that once, we changed it to, “He’s got the strong little girls in his hands” and did the last phrase again with “he’s got the strong little boys in His hands…”
Eden immediately began to pout, “No, no, no! That’s not the way the song goes! It’s not how my teacher sings it! It’s the strong little boys and the beautiful little girls! That’s the right way!”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Time for mama to enter and correct some theology and ideology!
But before I could speak, Joeli said, “No! I want to be strong too! It’s important for me to be strong! So yes, this is the right way to sing!”
Gotta admit, my heart was singing, “You go girl!”
Eden responded, “But it’s wrong! It’s wrong! It’s not what my teacher says!”
Mommy: Eden, do we want Joeli and Phoebe to make good decisions? Will their external beauty help them make the right decision or help them follow Jesus even if it’s really hard?
Eden: No ma’am.
Mommy: Will your strong muscles help you make right decisions or help you follow Jesus even if you’re hurt for following Him someday?
Eden. No ma’am.
Mommy: Right. See Eden, it’s not strong muscles or pretty faces that make any of us capable of following Jesus in our nation or world. It’s beauty and strength that comes from a heart that trusts and commits to follow Jesus even when it’s hard.
Eden: But my teacher taught me to sing it this way.
Mommy: Sweetheart I know. Even at church, even among Christians, some people emphasize that women are simply to be beautiful and sweet. Boys are supposed to be strong and tough. But think about Jesus. Was Jesus tough? Was He sweet? Was he strong? Would you describe His heart as beautiful? If so, then that’s how we are supposed to be – beautiful and strong – from the heart. Though I truly believe your sisters are beautiful and you are handsome and I truly believe your sisters and you are so strong with your muscles, that’s not my greatest dream. I dream that my girls and boy be like Jesus – who is beautiful, sweet, strong, and tough.
For my dream to be fulfilled, I have thought of five areas that I believe are critical to be both beautiful and strong. There are obviously more, but I list five here!
- I want them to know, believe, and live out their value because of who and whose they are. Both my girls and my boy are created in the image of God. God values and loves them. May my words in both fun, play, discipline, conflict, and crisis treasure their innate value because of their Creator. May they know they are valuable because of Christ and because of who Christ made them to be.
- I want them to know, believe and live out their creation as “strength”. When God created woman he called her ezer (translated into English as helper). But the Hebrew rendering of this word went much deeper than merely the English definition of helper. The word ezer is used in the Old Testament 21 times. 16 times it refers to God – He is the Helper/strength of Israel! Three times it referred to the nation of Israel who needed another nation to be their ezer (strength) and help them beat their foes. Two times it was used for females. God breathed the destiny of strength into females and called them a word he used to refer to himself! Right beside ezer God placed the word k’neged which means equal/compatible. God made the male and female as equal/compatible strength to one another for God’s purposes on earth. Wow! I want my daughters to live out this ezer destiny so that they courageously and faithfully march after the God of Strength into this dreadfully broken and dangerous world. I want my son to value the strength God created females with – and see it as something to not compete with but rather to collaborate with as a compatible strength to himself. I want my children to carry forth their strength that comes from God as they engage the world.
- I want my girls and my boy to recognize they are the created; God is the Creator. I want my children to humbly realize and accept that God’s ways and precepts are right and good. For them to live this out, they must be lovers and doers of God’s Word. They must know it deeply and well and allow the Word to transform their opinions and ideas. I want my children to be worshippers of God and allow Him to be in His rightful place.
- I want my girls and my boy to be thinkers. I want them to study issues from multiple angles and not be given to pithy one-liners or sarcastic remarks on issues that are complicated in our world. I want my kids to grow up and live out 1 Samuel 16:7, “The LORD does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” For example, someday I want my kids to not vote for someone someday because of their color (that’s racist) or because of their gender (that’s sexist) or their hard-hitting one-liners (that’s shallow) or what they can get personally from the person (that’s greedy). I want them to think critically, deeply, humbly, and contritely before God so that they might understand their times and know how to engage their times as thoughtful practitioners who glorify Christ with their minds.
- I want my girls and my boy to be doers. I want the beauty of their hearts and the strength of their character to leak love for others that causes them to do for others sacrificially, unselfishly, and with radical abandon to the ways of God. I want their faith to be word plus deed so they can reflect the heart and mission and passion of God in a world desperate to see and experience the hope and reality of our Living God.
So what is my dream? That my girls and my boy would be both beautiful and strong.
Mommy: So kids who is supposed to be beautiful?
J and E: Girls and boys!
Mommy: So kids who is supposed to be strong?
J and E: Girls and boys!
P, the 2 year old: Yea!
Another day of parenting…. Wow, this is hard…