Some Musings on Potential

This morning I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a parent, to have in mind goals I would like to see my children achieve, qualities I would like to see them develop, and a level of maturity I would like to see them reach. Whether vague or crystal clear, I think all parents must have such goals or desires for their children. How can we not? How can we not dream of the absolute best for our kids? And how can we not know – I mean, just know – that they are capable of achieving great things? Any child born into this world is imbued with the potential to change it, and it’s our job as parents to help them reach that potential.

Beyond parenthood, this line of thinking leads me to ponder what it means to be a child. Regardless of my age, with its husband and children and grown-up-adult responsibilities, I am a daughter. I have biological parents who love me, a spiritual mother who cares for me, and a heavenly Father whose purpose and goals for my life are beyond my own wildest imaginings – beyond anything I could think or ask or dream. Just like my own children, I was born with the potential to positively impact the world I live in, beginning with my family and extending outwards in ever-widening circles of possibility. The potential never fades, never passes, never packs a bag and waves goodbye, saying, “Well, you missed it. You had the chance to be something great and you let it slip away. Nice job, loser.”

Potential is not a jerk.

Nor is it a one-time opportunity.

It is, however, a constant presence and urge to be…better. I hate using that word, though. What does it even mean to be “a better person”? Or a “good person”? It doesn’t mean anything. As descriptive terms, they are too vague and unwieldy to be of use to anyone. Perhaps potential’s effect could be more aptly described as a constant urge to improve, to advance, to develop, and to grow in maturity. My potential is not a set goal or level that I can reach and then go no farther; it is knowledge of the ever-present opportunity to grow and keep growing throughout my life into the best possible version of me. The idea of it fills me with courage.

Potential is a very sweet friend.

Still, I’m just a kid – bullied by weakness and beat up by failings, fearful that potential is only friends with the popular kids. My weaknesses, after all, have had plenty of time to firmly entrench themselves into my personality. I sometimes imagine them as screaming, fire-breathing demons. They clutch my ankles with their knife-sharp claws, laughing and screeching at my feeble attempts to free myself, smug in the knowledge of their power over me. Potential probably sits in the cafeteria with all its real friends, watching piteously as my weaknesses render me utterly useless.

Weaknesses are definitely jerks.

And now, at last, we’ve arrived at what I was really thinking about today: the possibility of being tripped up and prevented from growing by my own stupid weaknesses. It’s been on my mind for quite some time, actually, slithering around the corners of my every goal and dream. Thankfully, every time it rears its ugly head to strike, I am aware of something that my weaknesses, in their smug self-satisfaction, have never considered: who my Father is. I may be “just a kid,” but I’m not just anybody’s kid. I am a child of God, the daughter of the Most High King – Him, the ultimate winner of the “World’s Best Parent” award. And as my Father, does He expect me to overcome my weaknesses on my own? Does He leave me to myself, to muddle through as best I can on the off chance that I may become the victor? No and no. Absolutely not. As much as I desire to raise my kids in such a way that they are ever-growing in strength and maturity, it cannot even compare to the unconditional love and perfect parenting of my Father God. In His faithfulness, He begins a good work in me and then carries it out to completion. He provides opportunities to grow and then makes growth possible simply because He loves me and I’m his favorite. He has determined my potential and now keeps me on the course to obtain it. No fault, no failing, no tendency or propensity can stump Him. I will never be the child at whom God shakes His head and says, “Well, I did my best, but you were just too much for Me. Damn you and your moral ineptitude!”

My weaknesses don’t stand a chance.

So today I’m thankful for truth. I’m thankful for promises. I’m thankful for potential, for mercy, and for the sword of Spirit that hacks sneaky little liars to pieces. I’m thankful for grace and freedom to dream impossible dreams.

But mostly I’m grateful for daughterhood…and the endless opportunities for thankfulness that it provides.

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