by Eryn Austin-Bergen
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5
“Sing song!” my 20 month old daughter, Eliana, declares.
“You want to sing a song?” I clarify.
“Ye-ah,” her lilting, two syllable response makes me smile.
“What song do you want to sing?” I ask.
“Jesus!” Eliana grins.
“You want to sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’?”
“Yeaaaah.” She smiles and waits expectantly.
Eliana intently stacks one block on top of the next. We’re talking about which colours she wants and what she might be building. Out of the blue, she nonchalantly interjects, “Go church.”
“Sorry, what?” I ask, not sure I heard her correctly.
“Go church,” she states more clearly.
“You want to go to church right now?”
“Ye-ah. Go church, sing songs.”
As I wipe bits of oatmeal off the floor after breakfast, Eliana babbles next to me – I admittedly am only half listening. But then I hear her say, clear as day, “chains broken.” I stop what I’m doing, sit back and look at her, “What?”
“Chains broken,” she states matter of factly. I stare at her with furrowed brow.
“I don’t, um…I’m not sure…” I stutter.
“Chains broken,” she happily repeats.
I pause, racking my brain with where she could have come up with that phrase. Then it dawns on me. “Oh! Like in the song? ‘Chains have been broken, death is defeated, we are victorious’?”
“Yesss. Chains broken.” She goes about her play.
These three moments made me pause in wonder: God himself is speaking to my little girl. He is shaping her thought world and her desires; he is captivating her imagination.
Eliana is our first child and sometimes I’m anxious about whether we’re raising her to know God. We don’t have a lot of religious rhythms in our family, so I worry that I’m not doing enough, that Eliana will grow up not loving the God I cherish. But these three moments with her were a revelation – it’s not about me. I have a responsibility to raise her in the knowledge of the Lord, to model who Jesus is and that he does, indeed, love her more than life. But, ultimately, it’s not about me.
Since the moment of her conception, the Giver of Life has been singing his song over her, creating and recreating my little girl in joy. He has been wooing her, pursuing her at every stage of her development, and he will never stop calling her to himself. Through songs and books and trees and bugs, through hugs and bubbles and dreams and blocks, he whispers his wonders to her – and she hears him.
As an adult, it’s easy for me to forget that I am not the one in control; it’s easy for me to tighten my grip against the Author of the Story when things are not going as I think they should. But Eliana daily reminds me – it’s not about me. Her God is in control of her life; now I need to just open my hands and follow his lead.