You’ve been back-to-school shopping, right? Plastic, cotton, Dora, and Nike. Whether we’re students or parents, we’re all trying to find the perfect backpacks, clothes, lunch bags, and shoes for the first day of school. But, if you’re a mom like me, your heart is wandering on far-away aisles, with questions even the best retail therapy can’t answer.
Will a teacher see their budding personality?
Will my child be able to sit?
At a desk?
For five minutes?
Will they test authority, find the wrong friends, challenge classmates, or (gasp) forget to wash their hands?
As a parent, back-to-school shopping is stressful, but it’s not just about the money or the shopping. It brings up all the questions. Are they enough? Did I raise them well enough? Will they succeed? It’s easy to hear “no” echoing off the shiny shopping floors.
We realize we may not trust society, or our kids, enough to leave them alone together. But, they won’t be alone. The truth is, even when it’s just your kids and you, it’s not just your kids and you. You are not alone. If you were, you wouldn’t be enough. Before my kids were ready for back-to-school shopping, before they went back home from the hospital, before they were shaped in my womb, they were cared for.
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you.” But I said, “Hold it Master God! Look at me. I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!” God told me, “Don’t say ‘I’m only a boy.’ I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there. I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it. Don’t be afraid of a soul. I’ll be right there, looking after you.” God’s Decree. Jeremiah 1:5-8 MSG
I breathe an audible sigh of relief to silence the echoing negativity. Your baby was known by God before you two locked eyes. My kid is God’s kid. He knows the pros and the cons. He gave them their gifts, and He knows their flaws. We can remind our kids (and ourselves) we’re made and known well.
Back to Jeremiah. He cried, “I’m only a boy!” Our kids are young, inexperienced, impressionable. If we worry they’ll be overlooked, run over, and less-than-enough, then they—like Jeremiah—probably feel inadequate too. So, let’s worry less about finding the most durable sneaker. Instead, let’s spend more time on words and actions showing our kids how God has been preparing them since day zero. Before you had plans for your child, God had plans for your child.
When your child goes without you, your God goes with them. God empowers the little ones He knows to do the big plans He made. Trust that He is with your smallest, and He sees the biggest picture. I may let one last bit of advice go out the car window as their over-sized backpacks trot into school, but more importantly, I’ll hold onto God’s words to Jeremiah. Don’t be afraid of a soul, my little ones. God is right there, in the cafeteria, looking after you.
If you’re still feeling anxious, pray this prayer.
God, thank You for creating and knowing [your child’s name]. I trust that You go with them and have a plan for them today. Holy Spirit, help me to let go of fear and show my kids what it looks like to rely on You. Amen!