“What were you like as a little girl?” I stared at this icebreaker question the other day, wishing I had gotten any other question. How much easier it would have been to share my most embarrassing moment or decide if I was more like my mom or my dad. As I sat there listening to the women before me answer their questions, I did a quick inventory of my history - looking for anything I could use as an answer, wishing I could “phone a friend.” Even with the extra time, I still came up short when it was my turn to speak. Such a simple question, such a difficult answer for me to find.
The truth is, I don’t have any idea what I was like as a girl. I can see my daughters and tell one that she was the most precocious, daring, powerful, stubborn thing; destined for greatness. I can look at the other and tell her that she was considerate, thoughtful, independent and sneaky, planning out every move with caution and slowly learning how to be brave. My son will hear how he was fearless, strong, tender but mouthy and constantly complementing the people around him. Those memories are passed from parent to child - cherished and held dear.
I have never really taken the time to ask what I was like as a child. Along the way, my coping mechanism was to abandon my need to know those things and become completely independent. Sometimes it’s easier to let go of everything than to try to hang on.
So I turned to a memory that I have carried with me for years: the one of my elementary school self, getting dropped off at church alone for Sunday school, then calling home to see if I could stay for “big church.” I have elementary age children. They love church, but they love it because we love it as a family. We go together. I’m not really sure when or why I decided as a child that I needed to be at church. I’ll add that to my list of things to ask when the time is right. I do remember that building and those people felt like home.
I look at that time now and see it clearly as a season when the Lord shone upon me before I could even understand it. In Psalm 18, David claims the the Lord as “my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” In my childhood, the uncertainty and pain and the compounding of family dynamics could have thrown me. I could have turned bitter; easily dismissive and unkind. But before I knew, He was shielding me. He was my place of safety. His grace covered a multitude of failures. While He was protecting me, He was starting my dynasty. His faithfulness began generations of world changers, starting here.
Too often, we let the chains on us put an end to our dynasty before it begins. Failure, pride, jealousy, self loathing, fear, anger, resentment, bitterness; there is an unending list of weights. Like the proverbial elephant at the circus, we fail to realize that those chains aren’t really there at all. When Jesus came, He took them all. Before we took a breath, He spoke life and truth and love and hope over us. He has a future planned out for you. In all your seasons, through all your pain, He is watching your dynasty unfold.
I can almost see Him - watching you realize the fullness of the price He paid. The completeness of His mercy and grace. The freedom He brought and the joy that comes with it. Learning that you need to do nothing. When you know these truths and you find that your chains are self imposed, you get to release them. What are your chains and why should they hold you back from starting your dynasty? Who are you to think that your mistakes are greater than Jesus’ freedom gift?
Friend. You are free. You are beloved. And you are here to begin or continue a dynasty of believers and world changers. He is El Roi; the God who sees. He sees you, He knows you, and He is so excited to see you exchange your weighted chains for the real links in the chains of the generations that come after you. There are futures counting on you, and those who will look back and say “my journey began because she was faithful.” Let go and watch your dynasty begin.
About Amanda Merritt
Amanda is a Kansas girl who claims Texas as her own. She married Curtis at 19 and never looked back. Three children, six moves and three states later, they settled back down northwest of Fort Worth and love their life in the country. She’s a PTA president by default and loves being an advocate for her children’s school, along with being dance mom for her two daughters and soccer mom for her son. In her free time, she bakes a ridiculous amount of delicious goodies, has at least three books started at any given time, and works on any craft project she can get her hands on. She has three life goals - love the Lord, love people, and teach her children to do the same.