July 27, 2011
Parenthood can be tough. There is no getting around it.
I’m not talking about the late nights with baby colic or high fevers. Or stretching the finances for one more dance costume or baseball bat.
I’m not talking about the first time they leave the house driving on their own on a Friday night or going on a date with someone you just barely know.
I’m not talking about when they leave home and move out to college or their own apartment, leaving your nest empty.
I’m talking about the real anguish of parenthood. The day when God says, “do nothing to help them”. God knew this anguish. For when His son Jesus, His only true son was in pain, He knew that to reach out and stop that pain, to help deliver him, would terminate the process.
This morning as I was praying I heard, “The process is more valuable than the prize!!”
I have three amazingly awesome children. Yes I know, all our children are amazing, but you see mine are different, they are mine and my heart is directly attached to them, their lives, their loves, their emotions. Their lights shine brighter, their talents are greater, and their endeavors are more splendid. Because they are mine.
You know what I am talking about. We all feel just like that towards our own children. It is the way God intended for it to be.
We have spent a lifetime comforting them, sacrificing our own lives of pleasure, comfort and needs.
We love to be needed by them. As infants totally and completely. Everything, every element of their lives depends on us providing it to them. They sleep peacefully, unconcerned whether they will be cared for or their needs will be met.
As they grow their breaking away from us is gradual and natural. The teen rebellion, even though sometimes slight, is the beginning of true autonomy, becoming their own person with their own thoughts, beliefs and goals.
That is when we learn to gradually give them wings to fly. But we are still there to protect and guard and love.
I’ve been through some traumatic times with my adolescent children. They were a head strong and bold bunch. They made their share of bad choices, just as I did. I prayed for them continuously and was always there to help them out when they got in over their heads.
But one day as I was sitting in church waiting for the service to start, thinking and praying for one of my children which was going through a particularly tough time, God said to me, “You are done. Don’t help them anymore. Your role as their parent has changed. I take over from here. In fact consider yourself grounded from giving them one more penny or rescuing them from their troubles”.
I gasp internally. I loved them and had always done everything within my ability to help them when I could. But I felt a stern warning that I was not to help them. They were in their late teens and early 20’s and they needed my help getting started in life, didn’t they?
When I thought about it more God said to me, “If you continue to be their savior, they will never come to me to be their savior”.
I understood, but that didn’t make it easy. I was soon tested on this issue. One of my children very soon came to me bemoaning this or that financial ill. I wanted to give them money and help them out of this dilemma. But I knew I could not.
So I looked at them square in the eye and asked very gently, “So what do you plan to do about that”?
They were dumfounded. I could tell by the look on their face. They had hit a brick wall. The process was always: Get in a financial mess – go to mom, get in an emotional crisis – go to mom, get in a job mess, friend mess, relationship mess – go to mom.
Now mom all of a sudden was not the provider. What were they to do? That particular occasion this child kept circling with more explaining of how awful this situation was and how desperate they were in need of help.
I held firm. God gave me the ability to gently continue to lay this back for them to solve. I answered with questions in turn that they had to answer. I answered back with stories of similar situations that I had been in that conveyed I understood. And finally, “Well, let me know how it turns out. I’m believing the best for you”.
Well today my children are much older. I am so thankful that God made me push them away, in this way. They have learned to trust Him, to go to Him in their times of panic, heartache and disappointment.
They still go through tough times. And after the seemingly long period of forced reservation that God required of me, I was able once again to help, on a case by case basis. I truly had to lean my ear to the Holy Spirit to discern what to do each and every time they came to me. Sometimes I could help a little, sometimes a lot and sometimes still, not at all.
Was it painful? You bet it was!! I’ve seen one child sleep in their car in the middle of a snowy night about a week before Christmas. I’ve seen another child share a can of tuna with their child, my grandson night after night because they didn’t have grocery money. I’ve seen yet another child fight through anger issues and relationship issues that could have landed him in jail or destroyed their life.
How has this benefitted them? They seek God now. They have learned to let God curb their emotions, let God help budget and manage their money. They have learned to let God show them the place of things, the worth of relationships and above all, seeking Him and depending on Him alone. He has changed their priorities.
They still get into messes. They still struggle, as we all do. But now not only do I love them beyond belief, but I respect them and the relationship they have with the Lord. I know they are still finding their way; working out their own salvation, but they are doing it. And God is with them every step of the way.
Do I still struggle with wanting desperately to help them? You bet! In fact the reason for this very blog is because once again I see one of my dear children facing yet another of life’s struggles and I want to help. I want to do something. I want to fix it. I am disappointed and heartbroken.
But once again God is telling me to do nothing and trust in Him.