Welcome to Part 8 of my “Living a Simple Life” series. (Go here to start at the beginning of the series.) I have been so blessed by those of you who join me each Thursday (or throughout the week)! As you leave your comments/e-mails, telling me of your journeys, I am always amazed at what an incredible God we serve.
God speaks to us- His daughters- so tenderly, so individually, through both difficult and joyful times, as He shapes us. In my pursuit of “simple living,” I am continually asking God to place His dreams upon my heart; to teach me how to be the woman/wife/mama that He has created me to be. Thankfully, He doesn’t overwhelm me with everything all at once, but gently leads me day by day.
God uses many avenues to express himself to me; not solely by reading the Bible and prayer times, but also by listening to my husband’s thoughts, mulling over a devotional or studying a book, an encounter with an edifying friend, hearing a song on the radio, or experiencing God’s creation around me. When I strive to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17), I am more likely to be aware of lessons God is placing in my path.
This week, God has been placing “object lessons” in front of us regarding protecting our daughter. Since we are rarely in situations with strangers, these lessons don’t appear quite as readily to us, as they might to others. In my journey of Simple Living, I have been taking to heart what God’s plan encompasses regarding my mothering. At first, He gently led me home; to be with Gen on a regular daily basis, teaching, disciplining, role-modeling, loving, and learning about her. (I still have much to learn!)
I am also learning more about what it means to protect our daughter. Obviously, I am daily aware of those safety issues (parking lots, sharp knives, electrical cords, etc.). I am speaking more of protecting her tender heart; her trust; her innocence and emotions.
I received a compliment today from a friend (a new mom), as she observed my “Mama Bear” response pop up during our walk today. I was tuned in to the fact that Gen’s initial delight in an oncoming poodle, was turning to discomfort, and possibly fear. (She wasn’t making any typical “scared baby noises”- she just doesn’t do that in public; I was observing her body language.) I was already attempting to maneuver the stroller away from the dog, but its owner insisted on walking over and forcing her “sweet puppy” upon us.
As Gen put her hands and feet up to ward off the “puppy kisses,” I gently informed this owner that “It’s a bit overwhelming for her,” as I quickly moved away. This owner proceeded to berate me as a “bad mother,” for a list of reasons, obviously offended that I wasn’t “allowing” my child to pet her dog. I continued walking away, and finally adamantly stated, “I will do what I feel is best for my daughter.”
My friend and I were both shocked at this woman’s behavior, and as we continued with our walk, we discussed the incident. This confirmed in our hearts that our role as mothers means not only protecting our children (despite what others may think), but also giving our children the resources to learn how to handle difficult situations, and the knowledge that Mama/Daddy is someone they can trust.
This idea of protection is so important, not just in the case of passing dogs, but also when strangers feel entitled to ask personal questions or invade our space. We have often experienced this rudeness in public places, as random people feel it is their “right to know” where my child got her hair color (or even touch her hair!), or some other question regarding our biracial family.
A sweet, simple answer (“God gave it to her.”) often suffices in most situations, but most importantly, I know my daughter is listening. As I speak, I am educating her much more than any passing stranger. She is gradually being equipped to handle such difficult positions, whether it will be with a gentle answer, or graciously excusing herself from the situation. It is important that I allow God to develop discernment within her, so that she can be aware of what information is appropriate to share.
It is also important for me to teach my innocent daughter about whom she can place her trust, as well as suitable actions for a future “virtuous woman.” After Gen gets over her initial shyness in a new place, typically, she will quickly move into her “socialite” mode. We are learning how important it is that we set social boundaries, besides just “safety” boundaries. Crawling into laps of “random” strangers- even in the home of a friend- is certainly a social boundary. If Gen is scared, she is quick to come running to Mama or Daddy; her attachment to us is certain. But, we’ve observed that her innocent trust of others in social settings often needs to be reigned in.
In living a simple life, the role of sheltering my child is fairly inherent. However, that is no excuse for forgetting my role of equipping my child for proper conduct outside the home. In fact, it is one of my most important duties: to simply teach my daughter to “shine like a star in the universe” (Philippians 2:15). I must be ever aware of this. Above all, I must daily place my daughter into God’s hands, and simply seek His wisdom in my mothering.