To the person blessedly entrusted with a spirited and determined child:
I am not a mom. I am a sister. But a sister that is only a few minor details away from being a mom. You see, my sister is fourteen years younger than me. Almost seven years ago she was the surprise gift that changed my family forever. My family was a foster family and through that process God gifted us with my little sister who ended up needing a home. Without question she became a Colander. She was created to be a Colander. The Colander family needed her to be a part.
We picked her up from the hospital when she was two days old, and since then my world and my heart have never been the same. When she entered my life, my world began to revolve around her and my heart grew and grew to try and accommodate all of the love I had for her. For the last seven years, she has been the live baby doll I have always dreamed of having. I have taken every single opportunity to be a part of her life – going with her and my mom to the first day of school, taking her out on an endless number of “sister dates”, and attending as many sport events as I could. I have never wanted to miss out on one thing. My dream is to be a mom and for the last seven years she has gotten me the closest to living out that dream.
My love for her is that of a mom’s love. My love for her is fierce and unconditional. I love her in her sweet moments and I love her in her ugly moments. No matter what she does, my love for her will not diminish.
I am sure you feel the same feelings towards your child. You also might understand what I mean when I call a child “spirited and determined”. You know the one that won’t give up the arguments, the one that is determined to be independent, or the one that just won’t obey instantly. They always have to have the control and always have to put up a fight.
That is my sister. She loves control. She is independent. She is opinionated. She is determined. She is spirited. She is feisty.
The joy I have experienced being a part of her journey is matchless, and so is the frustration. There are days when I feel like I have succeeded in being her sister. Days when I see her share with a friend. Days when she says “please” and “thank you”. Days when she hugs me and then lays down quietly to drift off for the night. Days when the beauty of her heart is brought into the light. There are also days when I feel as though I have failed. Days when the temper tantrums never end. Days when she won’t go to sleep. Days when she is fighting for control. Days when she won’t listen to one word I am saying.
Each hour her mood has the potential to change. She might be obedient one hour and the next hour decide that its time to argue. She might be pleasant and polite to people one hour and the next hour decide that she wants to glare at people. The constant roller coaster of feelings and emotions is normal for any child to experience. As a child she is in a state of constant exploration and imbalance. The world is still so new to her. Each hour she sees something new or hears something new. At the same time she has to process this new information and figure out how it fits into her understanding of the world. She is trying to figure out how to share with friends while trying to figure out how to claim her territory and hold onto what she values. She is trying to establish the fact that she can do things on her own while overcoming obstacles that require help. She is trying to learn how to love in a world that is full of so much evil. She is in a constant state of wonder and confusion. It is exhausting for her. At times she just can’t handle it all. And that is okay.
What I have discovered is that while she does all this of a normal child, she does it to a further extent.
I have watched all of this play out. When someone hurts her feelings, she cries big tears and I can see her heart shatter. When she gets angry with someone, she holds a grudge and can have a hard time forgiving. When she is scared, the fear consumes her and takes away her ability to function until the fear is put to rest. When she is happy it takes over, and her smile is big, her laugh is loud, and her joy is infectious. When she loves, she does it in the sweetest and purest of ways, and she doesn’t hold back.
Take all of this, pack it into a little innocent heart, and the outcome is powerful.
Much too powerful for me to handle.
And this is why each morning I bow at the feet of our Father and humbly ask that He might grant me wisdom. Grant me lots of patience. Grant me understanding. Grant me a heart full of His love. Grant me more energy. Grant me a spirit of forgiveness.
Because with her I have discovered lots, but one thing holds true each and every day – how much I need Him.
“God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:27
You see, she is far too powerful for me. Her thoughts are too big for me. Her emotions are too big for me. Her heart is too big for me. Her personality is too big for me.
And this is a good thing because when she is too big and too powerful for me, I am prompted to remember how much I need Him and His help. The immensity of her presence and her personality is something I cannot handle. Is something I cannot understand. Is something I cannot fully teach to. What is required of me as her older sister is something I cannot do alone.
So I have decided that I will give up on trying to fully understand her and teach her. Instead, I will partner with our Father in the mission.
I will teach her while He teaches her more. I will protect her while He protects her more. I will love her while He loves her more.
I will do all that is asked of me and be the big sister I am called to be, but I will do it without the pressure of feeling the need to be perfect at it. I will realize that as much as she is my sister, she is His child, and as much as I love her and can affect her heart, He loves her so much more and can affect her heart so much more. She is simply too powerful for me, but never too powerful for Him.
Her power doesn’t compare to the immensity of His power. At times her power is too much for her little self to handle and her body crashes under the weight of it all. And this is where He comes in. In the moments where she so fiercely desires control. In the moments where she so badly wants to be independent. In the moments where she is so determined, her Father reaches down and pulls her into His arms. He touches her heart in a way no one else can.
While her power may break her at times and cause her to struggle with her big emotions and dreams, it will also force her to run into His arms. At times it will be too much for her to handle and the only place she will be able to go is to the One more powerful than her. She will need Him to get through life. She will need Him to guide her and demonstrate to her how to use her power. She will need His example of love for her to use in her life.
On the days when I want to sit in a closet and scream because I can’t figure out how to reach her, this is what I will remember – that she is not my own. That God did not give her to me to figure out and reach and teach. Instead, He gave me her and asked me to partner with Him in raising her. He loves her more than I do, and in that promise I can find peace that He will not lead her astray. I can trust that He has a hold of her little heart even when I don’t. When I feel like a failure, I must remember that He fails at nothing. He created her heart and understands it in the most intricate of ways. He will protect it and guard it and lead it and teach it even when I can’t.
Her largeness constantly reminds me of my need for Him. Her power is proof of His plans for her. Her life is a testimony.
On the days when her knees seem to buckle under the power of her heart, she will learn that she must run to Him. Must run to Him for refuge. For rest. For wisdom. For peace. And this is a beautiful thing.
And on the days when your knees seem to buckle under the power of your child’s heart, you must remember this – you are not alone. You are not failing. Your child is not an uncontrollable child. Instead, your child is a powerful child. Your child will and is being used by God. Your child is just learning how to handle their largeness and their power in their small and innocent state. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Run to Him when it is too much. In Him you too will find refuge. Rest. Wisdom. Peace. Forever and always choose to partner with Him and believe that with Him, nothing is impossible.
A child of His
About the Author
Hi! My name is Morgan Colander. I am a junior at Lee University in Tennessee studying to be an elementary teacher. I am attempting to survive these college years as I learn to rely more on God and less on myself while being surrounded by new opportunities and decisions. College has presented itself with its difficulties- college budget, college dorms, college food, an endless list of things to do, and plenty of homesickness- but through it all, I have never been more dependent on God and realized how incapable I am to do life without Him. God, family, and friends are all I need to survive in life but some junior mints, a hike up a mountain, laughter, and some sarcasm definitely add some joy to the journey.