Whose dreams are they anyway?

When I held each of my children for the first time, I began dreaming of all the wonderful adventures they might have. I was full of hope for their future. I often think of Mary holding baby Jesus for the first time, looking longingly down into his eyes, treasuring the special moment close to her heart. I can’t help but wonder how she felt, knowing the significance of the infant human she was holding. Did she have her own dreams, like we do for our children, for Jesus?

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

Jesus, as far as we can glean from Scripture, was raised, like our children, according to the customs of His culture. His dad, Joseph, taught him carpentry skills. Mary made sure he and his siblings were attended to and well nourished. Every year his parents made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. They raised him as if he wasn’t a King, but as their son, for whom they had hopes and dreams.

Then one day when Jesus was twelve, he slipped away (unbeknownst to his parents) to listen intently to the teachings transpiring in the temple court. After traveling for a day, Mary and Joseph realized the unthinkable: Jesus was missing. This had never happened before and frantically they returned to Jerusalem, searching for three days until they found him sitting happily in the temple.

Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:47-48)

Jesus responded:

Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying.” (Luke 2:49-5)

God’s plan was starting to unfold, and it threw Mary and Joseph for a loop. Although the shepherds came to visit their savior, the three kings brought expensive gifts, and various other wonders led up to this day in the temple, it seems that Mary and Joseph did not fully understand that their plans were not God’s plan for Jesus. They were fully expectant that Jesus would return home with them and resume their life as usual even though they were told of the significance of his birth.

Have ever experienced that as a parent? Like Joseph and Mary, you are ready to take your kids back home and resume life as normal, grinding at academics and talents, but they have other ideas, or maybe unexpected life circumstances take hold. You don’t understand why your child is choosing something different or is not on the same trajectory as you. Their lack of motivation baffles you.

I am certain as a parent you have seen a talent, a skill set, or an ambition in your child, to only be let down when either they choose not to pursue that gift, or the choice is made for them by external factors. Maybe your child isn’t motivated to go after the reward of hard work, giving up when you know they can accomplish more. It is hard to let go of our hopes and dreams for our children, but are they really our hopes and dreams anyway?

So often we align our goals for our kids to the world’s standards. We are often disappointed when our child quits going after a sport or talent he once poured his heart into, thus totally abandoning our dream for him. The recognition, the medals, the friends, the possibility of playing a collegiate sport; the dream vanishes right before our eyes. Now what, we ask him? He doesn’t have an answer, only a shrug of the shoulders.

This verse in James has me pondering whether my dreams for my children come from me or God. Perhaps the shift in my child’s motivation has nothing to do with me, but instead with God’s plan for him. talkWe should instead bring our asking him to make our paths straight and to lean on His understanding, not ours.Our motives must align with God’s, not the world’s.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Like Mary, as I treasure my children I must come to the realization they were never fully mine to begin with but a gift to train up in the way they should go. The training should be a path that follows and leads them to the gospel, pointing their eyes upward. Our motivation and theirs should be placing their hope in Jesus, securing their place in eternity.

As we face the decisions our children will make about numerous things in their lives – sports, musical pursuits, colleges, relationships, and many others – let us remember who they ultimately belong to: our loving Heavenly Father.

Meredith Exline is a writer, teacher, and speaker who is passionate about helping women navigate the transitions in their lives. She has been married for more than two decades and has two young adult children. Meredith has dedicated herself to raising her children and served her community as an elected School Board Member for seven years at one of Oklahoma’s largest school districts. She has been an avid advocate for public education and founded Oklahoma Central Parent Legislative Action Committee, now OKPLAC.

She is a studier and active reader of God’s Word, enjoys leading bible studies, and was a contributing writer for Henderson Hills Student Ministries for over 6 years. Besides her family, her passions include sharing God’s Word, gardening, traveling, entertaining, and cooking.

Meredith has recently launched her website Refreshed Soul as a place for women to find respite, grace and growth in Christ through our ever-changing lives. You can also find Meredith on Instagram @therefreshedsoul.

More From This Author