She’s always been our brutally honest child. The girl speaks truth—and not always wrapped in love. You can look back at my blog archives and read story after story of this child’s honesty. But something has happened as she’s matured. She has a filter now. She’s learning when to speak up, and when to hold her tongue. She’s learning that there are times when spoken words are better received than other times. She’s learning.
Last night I picked her up from youth group. We live about 12 minutes from our church, which I’ve come to appreciate. We lived in walking distance from our church in Colorado, and there just wasn’t much time on car rides home to unpack all that my kids were processing from their Bible studies. But now I get that sacred time to hear their hearts, and enjoy some pretty awesome discussions about their faith journey.
Izzy: Mom, guess what our lesson was about tonight? Wait. I’ll tell you. It was about being a rule follower or a rule breaker. We had to share what we were. Then we had to share what we like or don’t like about rule followers or rule breakers.
Me: Oh interesting.
I could feel my neck begin to tense, and my fingers wrap a little tighter around the steering wheel.
Me: I cleared my throat. So Honey, what are you? What did you say? What family secrets did you reveal to your sweet leader and your entire small group?
Izzy: Oh Mom, it wasn’t like that. I told them that I’m a good kid. I don’t get in trouble by my parents that often, but I do tend to be a rule breaker just because I question rules. I don’t intentionally try to break rules.
Me: Oh okay. That makes some sense.
Izzy: And then I told them that you and dad are great parents because you are a little edgy.
And there it was. Sweat began to form on my brow. I willed myself to not react.
Me: So, by edgy you mean?
Izzy: I mean that you guys give me room to figure things out. You don’t just tell me what to do or think without good reason. You know, edgy? Like you don’t have a ton of rules and you’re not super strict.
I thought to myself that no matter how this conversation ended up at church, she does seem to think her dad and I are pretty cool.
Me: I get what you’re saying, but what. I mean. Well. How did your group respond to what you were saying?
Izzy: Well, there were three other girls who are rule breakers, and the rest are all rule followers. No surprise there.
She named a few.
Izzy: So my leader asked me what I think rule followers think of rule breakers. I told her that I think rule followers make a lot of judgments about people and don’t want to associate with rule breakers.
Me: I can see where that could be true.
Izzy: See Mom, I have questions about my faith. You know that I don’t just follow Jesus because you guys make me. You let me figure things out, and even have doubts. Like some of the girls were saying that they follow all the rules that Christians should, and that kind of made me mad. Like they’re saying I’m not close to God because I don’t do all the things they do.
I nodded and wondered at what point this girl riding next to me grew up.
We drove in silence for a while.
Izzy: Mom, do you always feel close to God?
Me: Not always, but for the most part. I guess I just know He’s always there. He’s waiting. It’s more me that backs away. Not Him.
Izzy: Yeah. That’s how I feel. But I also feel like there are so many ways to connect with God. I don’t read my Bible all the time, and sometimes I forget to pray when it should be the first thing I do. But I can’t fall asleep at night without listening to my Christian playlist. And I love how I connect with God when I sketch and work on my art. Is that okay?
Me: Oh my goodness. YES! It is so okay. What you are learning about yourself and your faith journey at stinkin’ 13 has taken me 40 some years to figure out. Izzy, you believe in Jesus. You have the Holy Spirit in you. It’s not an accident that you fall asleep to Christian music every night. It’s not an accident that you sketch and draw spiritual things. It’s not a coincidence that you know when to show grace and when to speak truth. That is all because you are tuned into Jesus.
Satisfied with the conversation, she turned up the radio and looked out the window the rest of the way home.
I shook my head, and held back tears. There is so much I don’t get right when it comes to being a mom. But in that moment, looking at her looking out the window, I felt God whisper, keep doing what you’re doing, I’VE got her.
And then the Carrie Underwood song,” Jesus Take the Wheel,” came on the radio. I’m just kidding. But wouldn’t that have been cool?