Little children may not know as much as adults, but they can teach us a lot. In fact, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Mom and Bible teacher Kendra Graham often uses stories of parenting—chaotic, hilarious, heartbreaking—to help people understand the truths of God’s Word.
Being a mom is tough! My kids are 11, 9 and 6, and as they get older and I see their struggles, I want to step in to protect them and help them through the hardships. But that is not my assignment as a parent. God has said in Deuteronomy 6:5-7: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.” What a task.
I love pearls. I had two favorite strands of pearls before they were pulled from my neck and broken by the little hands of my children when they were toddlers.
Pearls have been quite the talk around the Graham house in recent days. We had watched a movie about undersea life, and afterward, we happened to talk about oysters and how pearls are formed. I didn’t pay much attention to that discussion, but little did I know God was actually preparing us to think differently about the personal challenges and struggles He allows us to deal with.
One of our daughters was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. I knew she was having problems in school, even as early as kindergarten, but not until she was in the second grade did I push for further evaluation. The results left me glad that we know what the problem is, but incredibly anxious for the sweet girl who is going to have a hard road academically.
What does dyslexia have to do with pearls? Well, a pearl is formed in an oyster because of an irritation that finds its way to the inside of the shell. The oyster wraps the irritation with a coat of mother of pearl. The larger the irritation, the more coats of this substance are used to wrap around the point of pain until, in the end, the irritation is gone, but a beautiful, costly pearl is formed. Often the things for which we have to work hardest are the things we treasure the most.
Revelation 21:21 says: “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl.” One pearl for an entire door of Heaven! Oh, the suffering that went into making Heaven available for us! We serve a God who understands suffering.
My sweet girl works hard, harder than either of her siblings. She has to work on something one day, and that same thing the next day and the next, until it sticks. She gets frustrated. She gets mad. I get frustrated. I get mad. Why her? Why not me? When I see her struggle through something that should take 10 minutes but takes her an hour, it breaks my heart.
One day, as we worked and worked and worked on a school assignment, I decided to just do it for her. She had already done most of it. I said, “Let me finish it; let me make this load easier for you.”
She looked up at me and said, “Don’t steal my pearl! It’s my treasure!” Oh my heart! Our discussions about pearls had helped her understand how her own struggles truly can produce a treasure. I apologized to her and to the Lord. What kind of mom am I to steal my child’s treasure? Wow! Letting our children struggle is hard, but God had entrusted this testimony to my daughter. I can stand beside her and support her, but the battle is hers—as is the treasure. What a lesson from an 8-year-old! Who is discipling whom here?
Just last week, when she was yelling and throwing her pencil at the wall while doing her multiplication tables, I called out, “I’ll be there in a minute to help.”
She yelled back, “Don’t! I’m making pearls in here!”
Can your heart break and swell at the same time? Mine did.
We need to allow our kids to struggle for their pearls as they embark on this great journey of being molded and shaped more into the image of Jesus. God has entrusted them with a story that will bring Him glory in the end.
Lord, help me to trust You with my precious children. May we become a family with a treasure chest of pearls to offer You as we allow You to guide, mold and train us all in our irritations. Now when we wear our pearls, we can look at them as trophies of God’s more-than-sufficient grace. ?©2012 Kendra Graham
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Kendra Graham is a Bible teacher, the wife of Evangelist Will Graham and mom to three kids.