But when it came to finding that path for my kids, I knew a verse that was one of the earliest scripture memories for me. And it was something I held on to really tightly.
But I kind of got a little, shall we say, off track myself in understanding what this verse means.
It is probably familiar to you as a parent as well, Proverbs 22:6. The King James Version says, “Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Now, I also like the message version that says, “Put your kids in the right direction. When they’re old, they won’t be lost.”
And so, you know, parenting is an important job. And although I didn’t sign up for it, at the time that God graced me with my son’s pregnancy, I was grateful for my parents’ example, and I looked to friends who had children.
And in my mind, I kind of took that Proverbs 22:6 verse and thought, OK, I’m supposed to figure out the right direction for my children, and point them in it. And if I do a really good job, and am led by the Holy Spirit, surely I’m guaranteed a great outcome.
Well, that’s not exactly what that verse means.
You know, the writer in Proverbs was intending for us to grasp this idea of pointing our kids in the direction that they’re bending. I didn’t really grab a hold of that at first in my parenting. And so as I looked at my peers, I saw one family that I loved, and all of their children loved soccer. And then I looked to another family that we spent a lot of time with, and it looks like all their kids had a predisposition towards some form of dance and in the arts.
And so I thought to myself, Okay, I’m gonna emulate their example. And, you know, I like rules. I’ve already mentioned that. So I’m gonna just put my kids in the direction that they can all go in. And maybe they’ll all do the same activity that will make life easy for me, especially as our family grew from one to two to three to four.
The only problem is my Williamson children didn’t like the activities that I expected them to. My son followed a maybe predictable, typical boy pattern. He tried basketball, loved it for a while. He tried football, but to my husband’s dismay, he didn’t really like tackling—he liked to run the ball.
But you know, football isn’t just about getting the ball rolling. You have to tackle sometimes, and my husband started struggling with gosh, my son’s not gonna follow in my footsteps to be a high school football star. He’s just not really competitive.
[embedded content]And then with my oldest daughter, she started off and loved the arts. And so I thought, OK, well, maybe all my daughters will love the arts. But then she wanted to do ballet. And then she wanted to do ice skating. And then she went to do gymnastics. And then she was really good on the cello in middle school. So I thought maybe she’ll do strings, but then she got tired of that. And then she went to cheer. And I was like, wait, what am I doing wrong?
Because it seems like my friends’ kids are finding one creative path or one artistic lane, and they’re sticking with it for 12 years. Then they become concert pianists, and what am I doing wrong? Because she’s trying this and this, she wants to try something else. And she’s excelling in all of these activities.
But am I supposed to make her stick with it for years, even if we’ve got struggles ensuing?
And then the third daughter, at three years old, I’m doing her hair and she’s watching this Barbie of Swan Lake. I remember the video because at the end, they had all these examples of classical music. You know, they had some beautiful Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, and they showed all these different girls, it was kind of like a girl power with strings.
And next thing I know, I see her walking around the house doing this at three years old. And none of us play strings. I mean, her oldest sister hadn’t even done cello yet. And I thought, well, hmm. I think she’s kind of emulating, you know, those girls and the end of that Barbie movie, maybe look into strings.
Well, she ended up doing strings for years and loved it. But I didn’t know anything about strings. Like how do we fit that into the family schedule? And then the next daughter comes along, and she doesn’t want to do any of the things the oldest daughter did. I tried strings. She wasn’t interested, and she’s pretty strong and let me know I don’t want to play the violin because my sister did it.
You guys. I felt like a bowl of confusion.
What am I not doing right? And in the midst of those years of trying to guide and cultivate interests, and get them gifts at Christmas that coincide with the current interest that they have—I am trying to figure out what am I not doing right.
The Lord was gently whispering to me, Dorena children are not robots. It’s not about you, pointing them in the path that you think is best for them. I have a plan for each of your children. And it is a good plan. And it is a plan full of hope. And I’m going to direct them. And I just want you to fan those flames and to coach them well.
It wasn’t exactly what I thought Proverbs 22:6 meant when I started out parenting, but God was so patient with me as he parented me as a perfect heavenly Father.
And as he helped me pay attention to the interests of my children, he continues to point them in the directions that they were bending—in all beautifully diverse ways.
It’s just like the ministry work that God called Chris and I when we planted a diverse church—I learned that diversity is not just racial and ethnic, and generational. Also diversity in how we vote and diversity in our interests—but diversity even in Chris and I having four black children who all love different things that all have different gifts.
Looking for other resources on trusting God’s plan?
The perfectly imperfect puzzle: Working with what God has given you today
Replacing the idol of perfection in our planning with the Lord’s purposes
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