My prayer for all of my children is that they will not be the most popular or attractive ones in their class.”

That’s not your typical statement from a parent—or your typical prayer. But this mother went on to say that she wanted her children to be grounded: to somehow avoid the race for popularity, to value kindness over acceptance, and to place their confidence in who they are over how they look or perform. Not a bad idea.

We All Want the Same Thing

What comes most naturally for us as parents is sometimes different. I see parents every day in my counseling office who are worried about their kids. These parents are worried their kids don’t have enough friends. Their kids don’t get invited to spend the night. They sit at home on weekends. They don’t seem as happy as the other children. They don’t win the student offices they run for or get chosen for the teams they work so hard to make. I don’t think there is anything harder for parents than to watch their children struggle.

Every one of these parents wants the same thing for their child: to be happy. They want them to feel confident and loved and accepted and free. They want the road to be easy, with lots of bright, cheery colors and happy songs paving the way.

Trials Produce Character

As believers, we know the opposite will be true. It sure was for me. Think back on your own childhood. What experiences shaped you the most? What molded your character? What made you strong or helped you develop compassion? Most importantly, what made you aware of your need for Jesus?

Paul reminds us of the most powerful influences in our life in Romans 5:3–5:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help ...
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