I just can’t seem to get this parenting thing right.
Oh, we made it through the terrible twos. We struggled and almost sank in the tween and teen years; but by the grace of God, we remained afloat. We thought we had it mastered then. Reality, however, always has a way of striking just when you think things are good; and with my boys’ 22nd and 24th birthdays now behind us, I am once again faced with the fact that I have no clue what I’m doing as a parent.
Why is it always so hard?
The problem is, I want to be with my kids. I want to help them with their problems. I know their weaknesses, and I can assist them through them. But the more I try to intervene in their lives, the more I try to help them through their problems, the more they push away…
This has led me to a very important discovery in the world of parenting: As my kids become young adults, I have to treat them as such. I have to let them make their own decisions and mistakes. I must let them find their own way.
Because if they don’t walk these paths, they won’t grow to be mature, healthy adults capable of making valid decisions and capable of being good workers, friends, spouses and parents.
I simply need to let them go.
But oh, it’s so hard!
Something came up the other day with one of my boys. I have been praying hard about something in his life, and when I saw the opportunity to try to mold his actions to conform to what I knew to be the best course, I seized it.
Needless to say, the results were less than favorable…
I took it to the Lord then, fully expecting a bit of divine support. Instead, I received the lovingly gentle, yet firmly applied “Heavenly hand slap”. It went something like this: “Haven’t you been praying that I would take care of this?” Uh…Yes… “Don’t you believe I’m powerful enough to bring this to be?” Uh…Yes… “Do you think that just because you don’t see any results, that I’m not at work?” Uh…Maybe… “Don’t you believe that I answer your prayers? That I care about your son even more than you do? That I already have this in control?” Uh…Y…well…Uh…
That’s when I realized my problem: I had believed my prayer would be answered with God reaching out to change my son’s heart through my intervention. The truth, however, is that God truly doesn’t need my help. All He needs is for me to fully surrender my son and the situation into His hands.
Wow. That’s hard!
But why should it be? Isn’t God all powerful, all knowing, all loving and all wise? Shouldn’t it be easy to surrender something so small into His care?
The Bible says, “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.” (James 5:13a). It’s a simple idea: when faced with trouble, we should pray. But perhaps even more noteworthy is what the text doesn’t say we should do: It doesn’t say we should take things into our own hands. It doesn’t say we should try to control the situation. It doesn’t say that we will see immediate results. It doesn’t even say the hardships will disappear. It simply says, “You should pray.”
Does this mean we shouldn’t do anything at all?
Not necessarily. What it means is that we surrender the problem to God and let Him be in control. Then, while we remain open to God’s guidance, if there is a role for us to play, He will reveal it to us at the right time. And if we play the role that God gives us, then we can sit back in peace, knowing we’ve done our part and that God will do the rest, even–and perhaps especially–when we don’t see immediate results.
I don’t know yet what will come of my son’s situation, but I know that the One who I’ve asked to be in charge is capable, willing, loving and wise. In the end, what is best for my son will be accomplished, even if it isn’t what I foresee happening.
All of us suffer hardships of some kind or another. Whatever it is that you are struggling with today, take James’ advice: “You should pray.” Surrender it to Him, give Him control, then sit back and let God be God. The results will be guaranteed to bring utmost happiness and blessing in the end!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.