As a mom of teens and a college senior, I’ve tried to live a life of intentional non-busyness, but it doesn’t always work out. That is, until I broke my ankle two weeks after my hip replacement. Now, my husband is the one running around with our girls. The time on the couch gives me lots of time to think; those thoughts led to lots of time in reflection and prayer. My girls have benefited from this time, and I’d like to share an experience brought to me by the grace of God and being forced to slow down.
My youngest, thirteen, is a dance major at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts. She intends to be a ballerina, and has a very good chance of achieving her dream. She has the talent, physique, attitude, and drive. But like lots of people, she doesn’t like being pushed outside of her comfort zone. Nonetheless, I convinced her to audition for a competitive Summer Dance Intensive with the Cincinnati Ballet. Things didn’t go as I had hoped.
The night before, Jaiya was distressed, afraid, and filled with self-doubt. I said a quick prayer, wrapped her in my arms and reassured her that she had everything within her to get through this audition. Trust yourself, I said; trust that God will give you what you need to do this. Have faith. She felt a little better, but I knew she was still nervous.
Jaiya tried her best, but the audition didn’t go well. In addition to her own insecurities, she felt intimidated by the other dancers. David and I did all we could, but she ended up feeling disappointed. Where was God in all of this, I wondered? What could I do to make her feel better? The first thing we did was pray: pray for her, pray for the other dancers, and for the instructors. We prayed for the girls who tried to intimidate her. I know what you’re thinking; it’s just an audition. If she wants to be a dancer, she’ll have many more. What’s the big deal?
No parent, not matter how old your child is, wants to watch his or her child to be hurt. We need to find ways to rebuild our children so that they want to continue to pursue their goals. This time, we did this by praying for those who wish us to fail.
Why should we pray for our enemies? My time on the couch led me to Matthew: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. “
Teaching our children to respect and pray for those we don’t like is critical for their emotional well-being. I want Jaiya to continue to compete for what she desires, and to respect those who want the same thing, even at her expense. It’s tough to want our competitors to succeed, because we might feel that it means that we can’t succeed. But as we teach in Godly Play, the light of Jesus shines on everyone; we can light many candles from the one Christ candle. Even when we blow out that candle, the light changes and spreads even further. If we want God’s blessings on us, we must in turn want them for our enemies. Our faith calls for us to do this; God’s grace makes it possible for us to see it through. The sun will rise on all of us tomorrow – thanks be to God!
How do you teach your children to pray for their enemies?
How do you help your children through failure and disappointment?