Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Her Heart

So much of parenthood is filled with challenge. It's easy to get caught up and bogged down by the weight of being a parent. You hear people talk about the joys but there are days that the joys feel spread so thin that you wonder if it's all been worth it.

Teagan is about to turn 10 years old.

Be still my heart.

She is in 4th grade. And in the past few months, her heart has been showing more and more. And it makes me fall in love with her all over again each time she shares it with me.

4th grade, like 3rd grade, is filled with a good share of girl drama. Who sits with what group at lunch, who played with what kid at recess, who said this to that boy, and so on. I recall one of Teagan's little friends explaing to me that "Mary is trying to steal Susie's best friend because Susie is trying to steal Betsy's best friend and Betsy is trying to steal Ann's best friend."  As a wise friend of mine pointed out - in a few years, that sentence will be all about boys instead of best friends.

Be still my heart.

This year, Teagan has been trying to step outside of the drama. This is a challenge because she is not only naturally attracted to drama, but she also naturally attracts it and has a gift for stirring it up when she chooses to do so. And sometimes without even intending to do so.

This year, Teagan has been asking me a lot of questions about drama. About why kids can't all just be kind. About why it causes so many problems if you sit with a different group at lunch.

This year, Teagan is seeing behavior in other kids and recognizing things she doesn't like, she thinks is in appropriate, she knows she doesn't want to be part of.

Be still my heart.

My first glimpse into the compassionate heart of my little girl was early on in the school year. As 4th graders, the kids have opportunities for leadership in the school (4th grade is the highest grade). Teagan was disappointed to not be voted in to Student Council and to not be chosen for the Spelling Bowl team. Both of those things turned out to be a blessing. By not doing those other things, she could be selected to work once a week with the "life skills" students (kids with various levels of physical abilities that keep them from a mainstream classroom). This is where her heart is. She has always had compassion for these kids and sought ways to be friendly and connect with them in the lunchroom or hallway. She wrote a letter to her teacher, explaining why she wanted to be selected for this special job.

Be still my heart.

More recently, Teagan's heart has been showing in regards to a boy in her class who is here for the school year because his dad is doing research at a local hospital. The family is from Seoul, Korea. Teagan's heart was sensitive toward him for a while but it broke open in a big way when she saw classmates laughing at him because he didn't understand something they had said to him. Not only has she made the ongoing, daily effort to truly be a friend to him, she has also rallied other kids to be friends with him and be kind to him. Her efforts haven't gone unnoticed as I received a lovely email from his mother, expressing that her son is happier because of her friendship.

Be still my heart.

Last night, Teagan was wondering why a friend of hers, who goes to church and says she loves Jesus, would then also express being "creeped out" by the Life Skills kids.  Teagan's heart tells her to love them all, to be kind to them all. She sees differences but doesn't find them to be weird - her heart is leading her to see the beauty in the differences that God created. Whether the difference is the color of your skin, the language that you speak, or the way your body or brain works, my daughter has a heart that wants to love you.

Like all of us, her heart gets clouded. She is a little human, afterall. Jealousy and selfishness can certainly block that heart of hers.

But in these past few months, I've been seeing glimpses of the purity of her heart. I've seen proof that the things we try to teach her, the values we try to live in front of her - those things are settling in her heart and guiding her.

Our job is far from over. And we are going to have many more hurdles and hiccups as the journey continues. But for today, I'm holding on to faith. Faith that she is learning to love, to serve, to be kind. Faith that something we are doing as parents is right. There will be a lot of big challenges ahead of us - I don't doubt it. But I want to always remember her heart. To always know that she is capable of loving others in big ways.

On the days when I feel like I'm failing, when my temper flares and my heart races, when I am flooded with love for my children...

Be still my heart.

I pray that reminders of the beauty of her heart will help me to see clearly what love really is and parenthood is really all about.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg


Amy said...

A. I can't believe she is nearly 10.
2. What a beautiful heart she has...I bet it closely resembles yours.

Suzi King said...

WOW! What a beautiful testimony Teagan is in her young life. You are doing a wonderful job teaching her to be independent, caring, loving. You are succeeding in teaching her how to stand strong for what is right but also encouraging other friends to follow her lead.
Please continue to nurture her to do what is right. And thanks for a job well done! You rock!