Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Messy Parenting and the Grace of Jesus

I remember at the birth of our oldest someone cracking a joke about “they don’t send you home with an instruction manual”.  We all had a good chuckle and enjoyed our last few hours under the direct care of nurses and hospital staff before we loaded up our bundle of joy and began the nail biting journey home, convinced every other driver was bent on destroying our 1999 Ford Escort.  With the three of us inside.

I’m not sure the drive got any easier bringing our other three kids home, but I’m convinced the pains and worries during the ankle biter years got easier.  At some point we began to mellow.  Or maybe its that we were just exhausted and ended the day with “thanks for not burning the place down”.

But before you know it you wake up to teenagers… and realize the game has changed again.  You get to experience an entirely new set of challenges.  Not necessarily bad, but somehow you usually find yourself being the bad guy.  Or at least you feel like you are.  And you wrestle in your head with the “I’m not their friend, I’m their parent” lie when in truth we want to be their best friend.  We are all social creatures built on craving love and acceptance.  And we most definitely want these little humans we created to like us.  After all, we are the cool parents.

But sometimes instead of being the cool parents, you just simply aren’t.  And your house isn’t the cool spot either.  And after a while it kind of works on you. You wonder what’s wrong with you.  Or your kid.

Communication starts to suffer and you find yourself either accepting your position and praying your teenager has sense enough to make the right decisions on tough choices that you know are presented to them.  Or you find a way to snoop, willing the right choice to course through their veins.  Either way, they aren’t going to waste time talking to you about it.  The more you push, the more they shut down.

And, possible, this goes on for several years until all of a sudden everyone has somehow managed to survive.  No one died, the world hasn’t ended, your kid never landed in jail, there were no surprises, and your mini me is now at the age where they are sooner or later leaving the nest.  And you’re freaked again, because the world is a dangerous place and Timmy or Sally can’t even do their own laundry or follow the simple  “no more dishes in your room” rule.

And, if you’re like me, you feel the weight of Biblical parenthood resting on your shoulders, knowing that you’ve blown it time and time again on training up your child.  And there is no sugar coating, sorry to say… You will give an account.  There are no excuses.  But that isn’t to say all is lost.  Not even close.

Somewhere in this mix of messy sanctification we find grace that is sufficient for our failures and the blood of Jesus is enough.  So even though you’ve screwed up and won’t win parent of the year…. or saint of the year.… those middle of the night desperate prayers over your kid-whether for salvation, spiritual growth, redemption, safety, etc-.. haven’t fallen on deaf ears.  Your petitions to throne of Heaven have been heard.  They might not be answered in the time you like or even how you like, but they are heard.

So why this rambling?

Glad you asked.  The following article was posted on Desiring God yesterday and I found it very timely on where my heart is as a dad to a teenager that could possibly be close… a year or so… from moving away from my nest.  And as a Christian dad that fails miserably every day, I struggle.  But my hope is not of this world and it is there I find my peace with life’s circumstances.


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