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How to Identify Hints to Your Child’s Destiny

We left my firstborn standing alone on the sidewalk in a new city as we pulled out of the parking lot.

Eyes fixed on the rear view mirror like a scientist looking through a microscope; I watch her silhouette fade into a crowd of strangers. Returning to a partially empty dorm room, she will navigate a new season by herself.

Image source via Shutterstock
Image source via Shutterstock

Turning at the traffic light, onto the highway, I process the past 48 hours — moving furniture, cleaning her dorm room, sweating through shirts in suffocating heat, staying an extra day in the hotel when her roommate doesn’t show up.

I’m not sure if I’m more stunned by my lack of emotion, the circumstances or the way she’s so calm about all of it.

Looking back, I’ve found most of parenting to be like this: surprising, humbling and a magnifier on my lack of trust.

Four hours later, walking into our empty house, I feel the void of her absence and the tears are unleashed. I realize how God has been schooling me in letting go since she took her first breath.

At age two, she sat at a low round table for hours in the kitchen. Glue, scissors, paper and markers were her favorite companions while watching Blue Clues and sucking on a pacifier. In those early years, I scoured craft books like a theologian looking for truth. Plastic tubs of projects in our storage space are now proof.

When there wasn’t enough money for art programs in the schools were she was a student, we found artists in the churches we attended. Private lessons and art workshops became familiar summertime activities. Each of those experiences providing stepping stones of preparation.

More than sadness, the tears are confirmation of the way God is gloriously orchestrating her future. But I couldn’t always see it. I was too busy making sure she was happy.

I wanted her to experience a wide range of activities – violin, viola, clarinet and horse backing riding were a few piquing her interest. All the while, she rarely sat down on the couch without a pen to doodle or a computer to create. Instead of passion, I translated a closet in our house dedicated to art supplies as an aimless hobby.

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As parents, we can easily overlook the random everyday preoccupations as common to humanity when God is giving us hints to our child’s destiny.

A few days later I receive a text message, pictures of the project assigned by her professor. She’s asking her first art teacher for critique and I’m amazed by the raw talent.

Without a portfolio of artwork she is intimidated by the more broad experience of peers. But surprise and revelation of a God-given gift comes with high marks and glowing encouragement.

“Mom, I just want you to know I feel really comfortable here, I’ve never been nervous about the newness. I was more nervous walking into my classes in high school,” she admits on the phone later.

Our kids are never alone. Sometimes it takes looking in the rear view mirror to notice.

Shelly Miller

Shelly Miller

Shelly Miller is a writer, photographer, clergy wife, mother of two teens, and leadership coach who is on her way to London. She enjoys writing stories that make people think differently about life, helping women discover their gifts and the luxury of being inspired by other cultures.


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  • I pretty much do the same with my son. I get him involved in a lot of extracurricular activities so we could identify his strengths and weaknesses, learn more about his interests, and develop his talents.

  • Hi Shelly…Good words today. This immediately brought my thought to a wise saying I once heard…we must give our children two things in life: roots…and…wings. You have given Murielle the solid foundation of faith. You have given Murielle all kinds of space and opportunity to explore who she is, and now you have set her aflight, and she will soar!
    It’s interesting that Murielle had her own little ‘Art Centre’ from the time she was two years old. Same here for my daughter. Jessie changed high-school majors, leaving her school to attend my old highschool, enrolling in their excellent art programme. She has produced some amazing sketches, paintings, sculptures. She does not use her talents and gifting in a formal way now, but does use her creativity in writing, calligraphy, detailed knitting, crocheting, quilt making, dessert-creating, excellent photography, even the occasional painting or sculpture. Anything she sets her hand to, seems to come out so well. I am proud of her, can you tell? It’s been in her from her beginning, God-given. She sure didn’t get it from me. I think this level of creativity must skip a generation.

  • My oldest is a sophomore in high school and I’m trying to prepare myself for what’s coming in a couple years. I know she’s going to do wonderful. I can see now how she’s becoming more and more independent and doing beautifully. She has developed a love for chemistry and math, which I’m so glad because she wants to be a forensic scientist.

    • See, there you go! I think one of the greatest gifts of parenthood is the discovery of how much of their
      lives are predestined despite our failures or successes. God is faithful to fulfill His purposes in our children and that is comforting.

  • I also want my daughter to experience activities but only ones that she is interested in. She’s only 3 but our local recreation center offers a variety of programs. For the Fall/Winter session she chose arts & crafts and a “sports” class which teaches the basics of baseball, soccer, etc. I can’t say I’ve seen any hints to her destiny but I hope by keeping her active and with things she likes will help guide her.

    • I do think it’s important to experience a wide variety of choices to hone passion but sometimes we decide for our kids because of societal expectations that have nothing to do with their gifts. I know I’ve pushed my kids into some opportunities that were really more about being accepted than loving my children.

  • I know that God places gifts within us and it’s true that our children start showing them when they are very small. My daughter was like yours. She loved coloring and drawing and was very advanced in that for her age. But as she got older she discovered a love for writing. Now that she is a Sophomore in college, she is majoring in English Comp and will go on for secondary education. My son made up a song about being mad and angry at me for not giving him a purple popsicle when he was only 2. Now he is 17 and plays amazing guitar. 🙂

About Author

Shelly Miller

Shelly Miller

Shelly Miller is a writer, photographer, clergy wife, mother of two teens, and leadership coach who is on her way to London. She enjoys writing stories that make people think differently about life, helping women discover their gifts and the luxury of being inspired by other cultures.