“I know, Mom! You’ve told me this stuff, like, 1,000 times already! Do I really have to hear another lecture?!”
My preteen daughter turned on her heel and stomped away.
Once — what seemed like a lifetime ago — Molly wanted to hear my thoughts. She hugged me tight and loved nightly “tuck-ins” where we’d pray and giggle.
What happened to that girl?
That girl liked me. This girl traded death stares with me. Her growing demands for independence and my growing desire to protect and control had frequently placed us on a collision course. Our clashes weren’t pretty. Sadly, we both often spoke to each other like adolescents. She was 12. I had to be the grownup.
So, one day I laid a journal on her bed and hoped for the best.
She didn’t want to hear my words, but maybe she would read them.
The first entry I wrote told her how much I loved her and wanted to communicate with her. Not with angry words that left us both feeling empty and hostile, but with words that expressed my heart.
Written words could be well-thought out, instead of spewed with heated emotion. They could be read and re-read when she was ready and open to “hearing’ what I had to say.
I had no idea how she’d respond.
Then, just before she went to bed that night, she gave me this: “Thanks for the journal, Mom. I think it’s a good idea.”
Really? I had a good idea? Maybe there was hope for us after all.
Over the past three years, a number of factors have improved our relationship — prayer and maturity (hers and mine!) — but the journal has been a key component in keeping her heart open. And mine.
I’ve written many “lectures,” apologies and words of advice that I’d never have been able to finish if I’d verbalized them. Plus, they are there for all posterity. One day, she might dismiss them as the rantings of a mom who doesn’t “get it.” But maybe a year later, she’ll view them in a whole new light.
God is patient in this way with His children, too. He keeps speaking to us, even when our hearts are hard. Even when we don’t think He “gets” our longings and hardships. He waits for the day that we come to Him with our eyes opened to the wisdom we once lacked the perspective and maturity to embrace.
A while back, I wrote a long and heartfelt note in the journal. At the end of the day, I looked in her room and saw the journal in the exact same place I’d left it.
“So, are you going to read the journal?” I asked her, trying to act nonchalant.
“Yes, Mom. But sometimes I like to save it so I have something to look forward to.”
Now that’s something to write home about.
Today’s Challenge: If your child is old enough to read and write, consider starting a journal with them. Even if you aren’t having the communication problems I was having with my daughter, it will be a beautiful way to bond and develop heartfelt conversation with your child. You may find, as I did, that it becomes your lifeline if and when you do hit some rough patches.
How does writing a journal relate to bold faith? You may find that you are better able to express your faith, your values and your love for God in the written word, especially as they hit the preteen and teen years. And it will be a forever testament that they will be able to read and reflect on for years to come. You never know how the Holy Spirit will work, even through those words you wrote years ago.
For it is not you who will be speaking–it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:20