A couple of months ago, I attended a beautiful ceremony to celebrate a friend who decided to commit her future to missions. At a certain point in the celebration, my friend’s mom made her way over to where I was sitting. We small-talked for a bit, and then I asked her a loaded question,“How are you doing?” In other words, “Your mid-thirties single daughter is about to pack up her whole world and move to a different continent for the unforeseeable future. Are you okay with that???”

This mom, looked me in the eyes and said confidently, assuredly, beautifully, “Sarah, as a parent, there is nothing you pray for more than for your child to find their passion. Kelly found her passion. I could not be more happy.”

I am a novice at parenting. But when it comes to things I pray for my children, finding their passion and discovering God’s purpose, doesn’t always top my list. I know it’s supposed to, but praying my youngest doesn’t split his head open on our fireplace feels more pressing.

My prayers usually involve … Safety. Health. Protection. I allow those to trump purpose and passion on too regular a basis.

Beth Moore says we pray with a priority list in mind. We ask God all kinds of things on our kid’s behalf. Not bad things, but we pray them as a Priority A list, when God sees them as Priority B. It’s a happy marriage, healthy life, secure job. Great things. But, to God, they are B list items. Priority A consists of something along the lines of what this mom of a friend prayed for her own daughter.

That God get glory in and through the lives our children lead.
That God show Himself clearly and beautifully in the decisions they make.
That God gifts them with a passion and talent they willingly leverage to further His kingdom.

That is priority A. Sometimes, you’re fortunate enough to get both the items on lists A and B met. Other times, God’s A list is met at the expense of the B list.

Sometimes God getting glory in your child and your child fulfilling their purpose means they maneuver out of the imaginary net of safety you have cast around them. It means they move far away, they pursue dreams you didn’t have for them. It means they may not. . .

get married on your timeline,
invest in a 401k,
or be able to drink the water from the tap in the country they choose to live in.

I wasn’t planning on getting emotional at this commissioning service—it was a beautiful celebration of a friend’s long planted hopes being realized by taking up residence in an El Salvadorian girl’s home. What’s not to celebrate?

But then I saw her mom. And I realized as a mom, I wouldn’t be nearly as composed or enthusiastic as this mom was.

I would be terrified.
I would be paralyzed.
I would be selfishly wishing for something different.
And in doing that, I would be missing out on God doing something big.

What this beautiful mother did was embrace what is true for all of us—but which most of us spend a lifetime naively ignoring or fighting against.

Though our humanity protests, though our emotions resist, what we must know is that though our children are forever bound to us, they are never really ours.

Though the early years find them tethered to us in ways not entirely endearing, the rest of their lives is spent in motion moving away from us. The challenge—and necessity—is to allow them to leave gracefully. To allow God the control that was His all along. To begin acknowledging that truly, we couldn’t ask for anything better for our children than for God to have His way, and to hope we may have the chance to not simply accept it, but to celebrate it when we start to watch it all unfold in a breath-taking masterpiece.

That is an A list prayer worth praying.