Today my little sister turns 18.
As I sit on the couch in the living room of my childhood home a flood of memories wash over me. The strongest of which involves the playground of the elementary school down the street; where we spent many summer nights.
My favorite was always the swings.
I remember sitting on the swings and watching a then 6 year-old Autumn race between the slide and the monkey bars laughing with joy. I remember wondering to myself “who will she be when she grows up? What will she be like?”
And now we’re here (well technically…though I’ve learned the hard way 18 is a far cry from ‘grown up’). As I watch her make plans for her future I can’t help but be filled with excitement. My heart also breaks and I wish I could keep her 6 forever.
This must be how parents feel and let me tell you…it’s maddening.
But it’s not a birthday, or a relationship, or a college acceptance that will decide who she becomes; rather it’s all of those things. Every decision made from the days she ran like a wild child around the playground, to the first time she picked up a softball glove, and every moment after. They all play a part in who she is and who she will be.
I really want to protect her from all the hard moments. I want to give her a million “learn from my mistakes” speeches. But those very same moments are the exact moments that will shape her the most. For it’s those tough times that show us what we’re really made of and what we really believe in. So though I want to protect her I’m also wise enough to know some lessons can only be taught through first hand experience.
I guess that’s kind of how God feels.
He watches and sees where we are headed. He gives us direction and warning but ultimately free choice. Sometimes that free choice causes us to be broken, shattered. But it’s in that state that we are the most usable. In that state we are given the option to rely fully on Him.
That’s why testimonies are so powerful.
They show how God makes “beauty from ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). They give answer to the question “who will she be?” That’s what matters, who we become in life. Not who we were or even who we are now. Each day we are given an opportunity to change or improve the direction of our lives. How we will choose to let our stories end?