When Adelade was about seven she was having a conversation with her daddy. She told him she likes “being weird.” I’m not sure what constituted being weird in her little mind at the time, but she seemed pleased that she was different. Chad laughed and told her not to say “weird,” but to use the word “special” or “unique.” She grinned up at him, pigtails bouncing, and cheerfully replied, “Ok, but I don’t think it’ll help.”
The truth is, that Adelade is a unique personality. Because she is the one and only Adelade. God never made another soul exactly like her, and He never intended for her to fit into some cookie cutter shape of what a girl, what a Christian, what an artist, what a singer, what a softball player, what a deep thinker, what a giggler, what a writer, what a big sister, what a daughter, what a Child of God ought to be. He made her to be something else entirely. Something exclusively her.
And, He made each of our children the same way. Yours, too. To be quirky and have wacky ideas and come up with brilliant ways of looking at things that no one else would think of.
Yet, we spend so much time as parents trying to push our children into the constricting mold of popularity. For some of us, our entire child-rearing experience is spent bowed at the idol of what-makes-my-kid-cool. We’re more concerned with what brand of clothes they’re wearing than with what their spiritual condition is. We want to see our daughters become cheerleaders and drill team captains more than we want to see them brokenhearted for the lost. We would rather know that our sons are being voted Prom King and have a long line of girls waiting to date them than to see them include outcast kids who have no one. We would honestly rather see our children become the world’s kind of successful than to see them on the fringes, living a life radically devoted to Jesus Christ.
We do this in small ways. We see their zealous, wild heart for Jesus from a young age. And, we smile because it’s heart-warming and cute. But, then we send messages that what’s more important than that is having loads of friends and being voted most likely to everything and being the pretty one. We have lived at the altar of popularity for so long that we don’t even realize that in our hearts this is our real wish for our children: fitting into a world that hates God and tries at every turn to downplay the Truth.
We must stop this. We must instill in our children the firm knowledge that nothing matters more than Christ. Nothing counts for much of anything unless it glorifies His name. And, if we live this in front of our children, if we teach them what is truly important, if we help them build their unique, special, weird little lives on the foundation of Jesus-is-all, then if they are voted most likely to everything, then they will view the honor with a proper perspective that lifts Him high and makes them humble. And, if we make it clear to them that honoring Him is what life is about, then if they are never voted anything, if they are far from popular, they will also have a better time viewing that from the best perspective: His opinion of us is really the only one that matters.
There’s nothing wrong with cheerleading or drill team or designer clothes or prom dates. But, when we turn these things into ultimate goals of life for our children, we are leading them down a path that will be hard for them to get off of. And, before we know it we’ll have adult children who are marginal Christians, more interested in buying a bigger house and joining a country club than in using their unique gifts to bring glory to Jesus.
Now that Adelade is ten, I don’t know if she still thinks she’s weird. She is starting to get into brands. She is looking forward to playing an instrument in band next year. Right now she is leaning toward trombone. She is still a brilliant little artist and recently revealed a somewhat incredible ability to sing harmony on the spot. She’s a ponytail addict. She has friends. She reads several books a week. I am so glad she’s mine. And His. I pray that she will serve Jesus Christ in all the ways that He has uniquely created her to do so, never bowing at the altar of popularity. It’s a cold and fickle god. She will only find hope and purpose and confidence in living for Christ. Prom crowns fade and cheerleading suits get tight around the middle, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.