It's my job to get the hockey stick when we go to practice and games. My daughter hauls her bag of gear, and I grab the stick. We've always done it that way, mainly because my daughter doesn't remember how long the stick is and has a tendency to accidentally whack others with it. We've been hauling her gear and stick to practice and games for more than a year and a half, and I've never forgotten the stick. Until last night. I popped open the back of my station wagon, pulled out her gear and realized we didn't have a stick. A hockey player's stick isn't like a baseball bat. You can't just pick up another one and it will do the same thing. Sticks are cut to be the right height, and the blades are curved differently, depending on if you're a left-handed shot or a right-handed one. Playing with someone else's stick is a lot like trying to borrow someone else's eyeglasses. You can do it, but it may not be the right fit.
Left with no choice, we checked with the guys at the snack bar to see if they had a stick we could borrow. The one they came up with was a little bit short and curved a little bit in the wrong direction. But it was better than no stick at all. My daughter survived practice without her stick but said it wasn't something she wanted to do again.
Because I forgot her stick, my daughter was forced to play with a stick that was less than ideal. Too often, we try to force our kids to play the game of life with the wrong stick. We forget that our kids were created to be who God wants them to be, not who we want them to be.
I'll admit there are times when I try to force my girls into the mold that I would like them to fit. I miss the days when my girls loved to wear skirts and dresses. Now, it's all jeans and T-shirts. Sometimes, I wish I could get my youngest to just take a few minutes to think before she acts and not barrel through life at 110 miles an hour. And there are other days when I wish my oldest would not be quite so cautious. There are days when I'd rather do anything other than sit through another freezing hockey practice or another rainy soccer game.
But God designed our kids to be a part of His perfect plan -- not a part of our "perfect" household. As a parent, it's our job to encourage our kids and to show them how to use their gifts and personalities for Him. It's not our job to create the "perfect" children.
We are to help mold our kids into the image that God has for them, not the image we have in our minds. No matter how different our kids' choices may seem, we must keep in mind that Genesis 1:27 tells us "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Those quirks and differences are all a part of who they are. And who they are is exactly who God made them to be.
So, encourage your kids to be themselves. Don't expect them to be like anyone else. God didn't make them to fill the same role as anyone else. Let them play with their own stick, not a borrowed one, and you'll be amazed at where God will take them.