God and Dead Feminists: Thoughts on Empowering my Daughter
I have this fear that Michael- this squirmy, hiccuping little boy inside me- will be a complete terror. And before you laugh and roll your eyes, let me tell you... the odds are not on my side in this. I've only done this child-raising thing once before and it went pretty well. Too well to happen twice in a row.
We had our fair share of sleepless nights and chipmunk-cheeks full of unswallowed food that made me want to scream, but mostly Annika has been easy. She has always been quick to listen, very sensitive to the slight firmness in my voice or sudden seriousness in my face. She cares about doing the right thing and finds satisfaction in pleasing her parents.
I was mulling over it as I was shampooing my hair and the thought briefly crossed my mind, She has always been so easy to control.
And then another thought crossed my mind: CRAP. My daughter is easy to control?!
It was a gut reaction that felt centuries of feminists rolling over in their graves and crying out for her freedom. It was the proud stubbornness in my own personality that simultaneously grieved my oppressive parenting style and pitied her lack of push-back to my boundaries. She does what she's told and where will that get her in life? After all, a timid and easily-controlled girl isn't going to be the heroine of any good story.
Even my favorite girls in the Bible have some measure of rebellious spirit in them.
Oh, God... have I failed to empower her?
But I kept lathering... on the other hand, the opposite of easy-to-control isn't necessarily "well balanced and awesome." At the other end of the spectrum lies out-of-control and that's not exactly desirable. Certainly not biblically but even socially and culturally- no one raises up their daughters hoping that their lives will be full of lawlessness, discord and chaos.
Maybe I hadn't disappointed God and centuries of brave feminists. But I wasn't totally sure yet.
And I'd love to say that God brought the perfect scripture to my mind in that very moment, but it wasn't until later that I was reading an online Lent devotional and came across this verse from Hebrews.
Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put of out joint but rather healed.
It was about fasting and prayer but I felt it settle down into my mama-heart and wrap it up in a cozy Truth blanket. (I've thought a long time about that sentence and I'm not deleting it, no matter how cheesy it sounds.) The truth is this: the discipline is not for control, it is for healing.
Our lameness (the sinful condition of our hearts, and our kid's hearts) will eventually lead to a gnarled disjointedness if not brought continually back into a healthy posture. We teach our kids to reallign their hearts and attitudes so that, instead of continuing to live in disorder and crippledness, they may be healed and made strong. Not weak. Strong.
I do not discipline so that she is easy to control.
I do not discipline so that she is a nice girl.
I do not discipline so that we can all take pride in outward behavior.
I do not discipline so that she can be safe from dangerous things.
I do not discipline so that I can function at home without losing my mind and the relationship between us can be a fruitful one.
No; none of those things are the goal. The real goal, the reason we discipline, is healing and the slow growth of righteousness in her attitude, heart, and life. And righteousness, that God-peace, being light in a dark world... that is not something that is "easy to control." That is not easily deceived or swayed or taken advantage of.
My prayer is that discipline and training in Annika's life will be not be shaping her into a well-behaved, nice girl that follows rules but instead healing her disjointedness and empowering a brave, steady, and strong heroine of a woman....
One who is passionate about righteousness in herself and justice for others.
One who is compassionate towards her neighbors.
One who can know peace even when denied pleasure and short-term gratification.
One who knows the joy in waiting for what will make her thrive instead of just what makes her happy.
One who is willing to take risks and push boundaries when necessary.
One who looks to the interests of others and is willing to lay down her rights, privileges, and safety for another.
One who does not demand or feel entitled to rewards, applause, or self-glory.
One who values a godly character above a "good" reputation.
One who does not trust in her own goodness and works but can rejoice in how fully Jesus fills in all our gaps and makes us overflow with strength and righteousness.
Adding this post to the link-up of sisters sharing their words over at She Loves Magazine! Check out the blogs taking part in this month's theme of "Empowered."
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