“How can you still not spell this word? We’ve practiced every night for the last three days!” I say to my six-year-old daughter as I recall winning—or maybe losing—my elementary spelling bee. We’ve all been there. Maybe it was hitting a ball, working an equation, fitting into a dress, making a grade, getting into a college, or starting the right profession. At some point, we’ve found our hope firmly seated on a one-way train steaming ahead off the steep cliff of living vicariously through the very people who were intended to “spring off” of us. Yet we know our offspring should be motivated by our momentum, not halted by our hang-ups.
The problem of looking in the wrong places for our identity isn’t a unique one. We’ve been looking for worth in all the wrong places since Adam and Eve trusted a snake—a small, slimy, ground-hugging piece of God’s creation—to know better than God Himself.
When we find ourselves projecting our lives on our kids, we need to look instead to our heavenly Father’s display of value for us. He cashed in His child, Jesus, to get us a pathway back to Him. Our value is in a kid, but it’s not our kid, it’s God’s one and only Son, Jesus. God doesn’t love us because something we did for Him, He showed us His love through someone He gave up for us. First we need to linger here to discover our true sense of identity. Then, as parents, let’s follow God’s model and sacrifice the things we love to set our children free from the prison of living to please. Spelling bees are overrated anyway.