I am your strong willed child

You call it stubborn, others see determination.
You say tantrums, I see passion.
You call it hard-headed, others see strong. 
You say manipulative, I see creative. 
You may call it obstinate, I call it tenacious
You say unrelenting, others see perseverance. 

We are your strong-willed children. We are the ones who simultaneously frustrate our parents beyond belief while they look at us with awe at all we can accomplish. We are the ones that lay in the Oval Office of the President for the world to see our temper tantrums while our parents shake their heads in embarrassment and say, "she's my strong-willed child." 

You choose how you want to view us. The synonyms are interchangeable. Stubborn or determined, hard-headed or strong, obstinate or persevering? 

When you are cheering for me on the sidelines you love my drive and 
determination, but at home when it's time for bed, not so much. 

When I stand up to my friends because I simply don't want to go with the flow you are pleased with my convictions. When I don't want to go with your flow, it's not quite as easy. 

When you are worried that I may not make the cut or pass the audition you are still proud of me for trying against the odds. When I step outside the box at home and question you, I might be accused of just looking for an argument. 

These are all legit reasons to label me strong-willed. Just because you have a determined little person that you are raising, it's not altogether a bad thing. 

Frustrating? Absolutely.
Difficult? Yes.
Exhausting? No Doubt. 

But we can't turn our personalities on and off. It is part of our DNA. It is how we are created and designed. 

Granted, I drove my parents insane. I could have certainly made their lives much easier if I had just given in, followed the rules without question, been more honest, compliant, and not succumbed to lying at times just to get my way. I was a child, I was young, I was immature, and I have a lot of regrets for being as difficult as I was for them. 

However, having a set of parents that were not the strong-willed children in their homes made them re-think everything about how to best parent me. They were learning on the fly. They had no other example because my older sister was by nature a pleaser and rarely broke the rules. I do not fault them in any way for not always knowing how to handle me and my personality. But here's the thing...from the very moment I was born, they knew my personality was different. They knew that God had created me uniquely and wonderfully strong and determined. 

And for those of you who are raising children today that make you want to pull your hair out and scream because they are so stubborn, I remind you that God created their personalities to be just like that and He didn't make a mistake in giving you this child. 

He's teaching you a bigger lesson. He's growing you in strength, in faith, and in humility. 

How many times have you been on your knees asking God to help you know how to best parent this child? 
You are learning to pray for your child and He's showing you that you can't do it in your own spirit. 

How many times have you been forced to show some grace and mercy because it's not worth the fight?
He's teaching you how to extend grace and love when everything in you wants to be right. 

How many times has God given you a glimpse of your own heart through the antics of this strong-willed child?
He's showing you that we all rebel against a good, perfect and loving Heavenly Father because we all have free will that often defaults to self. 

So my dear, harried, frustrated mama of strong-willed children. I want to remind you that we grow up. We stand up. We fight now for what we think is right and we will continue to have that fight in us for the rest of our lives. 

We need to be parented. We need to be disciplined. We need to be loved deeply. But we also need to be channeled. 

We do not need to be compared to our less tenacious siblings. 

We do need to be encouraged to use our strong personalities for good and not evil. 

We do not need to be grounded 11 out of 12 months a year.

We do need to be embraced for how God created us.

We do need you to help us discover why God created us like He did and be reminded that your love and His Love is unconditional for us.  

I often joke with my own mama that I taught her how to be a better parent. She recently told me that parenting me taught her so many lessons that she could have never learned if she had always had easy going, laid back, compliant children. She also reminded me that God uses strong-willed, determined, and tenacious personalities to accomplish great things all through Scripture. I've listed some of those strong personalities at the end of this blog. 

I made a lot of mistakes along the way as a teenager and young adult. But as an adult I found a lot of great ways to channel my determination, tenacity, and energy. I picked up running again at the age of 30 after the birth of my first child. Determined to be a healthier mom, I didn't want to just settle into life and not have any goals left to accomplish. So after I registered for my first 5k I really fell in love with running all over again. Hoping to accomplish a little more, at age 35 I signed up for my first triathlon after the birth of my second child. Intimidated to say the least, but I was set on achieving a new goal and teaching myself how to do three sports instead of just one. This year at the age of 40 since the birth of my third child, I accomplished a half Ironman race which was a total of 70.3 miles. I can promise you that sheer determination, stubbornness, and perseverance got me through 6 1/2 hours of non-stop swimming, biking, and running. I am no elite athlete by any means. I am truly average or slightly below average when it comes to triathlons. But doggone it, I am determined and it feels so good to accomplish a goal and cross that finish line. 

I also have a lot of passion when it comes to writing, teaching, pouring into my home, my children, my family, celebrating holidays, and celebrating life. I just can't stand status quo. I am constantly looking for a new way to use my God-given talents and personality to love God and to love others. 

So embrace that little fighter you are raising. Kiss his sweat soaked head after a hard fought ballgame. Hold them tightly, rock them, kiss them, and love them after they come undone. Enjoy those quiet moments when they are asleep, and you are exhausted. And remember "when she wakes she will indeed move mountains."

Strong-Willed Personalities of the Bible:

Jacob - Called the heel grabber because he was holding onto his twin brother's heel from the moment of birth and continually fought to have the birthrights of a 1st born son.. He loved Rachel so much that even after he was tricked into marrying her sister he worked for his father in law for 14 years just to make her his wife. God would rename him Israel after he wrestled with the Lord and refused to let him go unless he received a blessing. He would become the father of many nations including all Hebrew people. 

Joseph - Son of Jacob, was almost killed by his brothers who hated him. He had enough strong-will to survive slavery, prison, false accusations, loneliness, isolation in a foreign land. He would ultimately win the favor of Pharaoh and become his right hand man and trusted advisor. He saved his own family including his father and 11 brothers from famine by bringing them into Egypt. 

Daniel - He refused to eat from the King's table and worship a foreign god. He was thrown into a lion's den for his dogmatic beliefs in one true God. He was a prophet of God to speak truth and hope to Israel even in their captivity. 

Joseph - Husband of Mary, found out she was pregnant out of wedlock before he could even marry her yet he believed that she was carrying the Messiah. He stood by her, and took care of her during her pregnancy and the birth of Christ. He saved Jesus from King Herod by escaping from Bethlehem to Egypt. He would have the earthly privilege of raising Jesus as his son. 

Peter - One of Jesus' 12 disciples. Determined, zealous, passionate about Jesus. He was often called out by Christ for being so outspoken yet was also deeply loved. He experienced the ministry and miracles of Jesus as well as the empty tomb, the resurrected Christ, and the beginning of the Christian church. 

Saul/Paul - As strong-willed as he was to persecute Christians in his younger years, God used that passion to convert Paul to Christianity and spread the gospel to other nations. He wrote the majority of the books in the New Testament and he is intense and determined in his beliefs that Jesus is for everyone, not just for the Jewish people. God created and called someone like Paul to light a fire for Christianity to spread.  


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