She walked out of the bathroom and my breath caught in my throat. And it wasn’t because she was all dressed up for homecoming and looked like a princess. I could only wish. Once again, my daughter, Lauren, was dressed in all black clothing and had rimmed her beautiful blue eyes with so much black eyeliner you could hardly see what color they were. This was what I had been seeing for about a year, with an increase in the amount of black clothing worn in direct correlation to the amount of black eyeliner applied. As school began that fall, we went shopping for school supplies and came home loaded down with more black.
Pray for Wisdom and Grace
I found myself experiencing a sense of grief, and a little fear, as I watched this. We’ve all heard about the “Goth” kids and the “Emo” kids and the sense of hopelessness and depression that is often associated with this look. I was looking at my beautiful 13-year-old daughter and wondering if all this black was a sign of something deeper, something uglier, and something scary. There were many hushed conversations between my husband and me as we tried to determine if there was something to worry about or if we should force her to change. In the end, there was something that just told us that we could end up harming her by pushing her on this issue. And we prayed a lot. Prayed for wisdom and grace in how to deal with Lauren in this. How can we be the best parents to her? Is there something inherently wrong with her black? Was there anything in this that could be sinful? What is the most loving thing? Questions that were hard to answer.
Do Not Stifle the Holy Spirit
I found over and over I was reminded of the Scripture from 1 Thessalonians 5 that says, “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” The word stifle kept jumping out at me. The dictionary definition includes words like interrupt, cut off, keep in, hold back and repress. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is always about a good work in us (John 16) and bringing truth. I didn’t want to do anything as a mom that would stifle the work of the Holy Spirit in Lauren’s life. I wanted her to grow in her own understanding of who she was and how best to express that. The way we dress, wear our hair, the colors we choose are one way we express who we are. I could stifle the journey Lauren was on by trying to force a change in her. And so we let her be. With lots of casual conversations about how she sees herself, how things are at school, and always, always letting her know that we loved her completely.
I’ll never forget the day that Lauren was looking at pictures with me and saw one of herself with all this black and she said, “Wow, you really can’t see my eyes, can you?” It was the last day she wore the black eyeliner. In that conversation, Lauren talked about using the black as a way to “hide” and that she didn’t want to do that anymore. And that was the beginning of a whole new Lauren. Today, at 17, she has every color in her closet and has a sense of style that is trendy and fun. She is the Lauren she is supposed to be, and continues to journey toward being. Isn’t that how we all are—all on a journey, all working toward being the very expression of who God has made us to be? I pray that we all can look with grace on those we love, especially those we raise, and help them journey closer to the One who loves them more than we ever could.
Am I praying for wisdom and grace to raise my children according to how God made them?
Am I stifling the Holy Spirit in any way, and not allowing my children’s unique and God-given qualities to emerge naturally?