When daboyz were small I was a much tougher mom than I am today. This is inverse to what I would have expected. Teenagers, after all, are evil and should be ruled with an iron fist.
The Mr. and I did what is known amongst church types as “dedicating” our babies to the Lord. This involves something of a ceremony in church shortly after our babies were born where we stood before God and the congregation as the pastor prayed over each boy and promised to raise them in a Godly home. In my mind, it was a giving back what God had given me. I never thought of my children as mine, they were His; and I was temporary guardian.
This was a scary thing which only occurred to me in its enormity after I had them. I didn’t know what to do once they were here. I knew I had to keep Christ central, I was determined to raise them into servants of Christ. Just didn’t know quite how.
So I did the traditional Sunday School and church thing. Which as it turned out, was right on the money in terms of raising them right. They had great mentors and teachers in the church who not only committed themselves to weekly lessons with flannel board figures but committed themselves personally to my kids and remain close to them to this day. Score.
We kept Jesus at the head of our often troubled home life which is the only reason that they were not products of a broken family. Score again.
Grace before meals, check. Christian-friendly entertainment often with scriptural sub-text, check.
Involved in their lives, teaching them about God, loving them, bedtime prayers, praying for them; check, check, check, check.
But it wasn’t long before I felt I was following all the God rules and still feeling I wasn’t really nailing it down; these lives I was shepherding toward heaven.
Then I realized what I’d been missing. They were individuals. Not carbon copies of their dad or myself, thank the Lord. I had a tendency to want to mold them into something grand and glorious. Good grades, well-behaved, cute hair cuts. But now what?
If you’re a parent or hope to be, I think I can pass on some wisdom here. The now- what? was the letting go even as I held on. God meant something for them but I wasn’t in on all the details. At some point in their lives it had to become Jay and God; Mac and God. Mom couldn’t be the advocate of their souls forever. My role had to fade into the background as God did the molding, the forming and the shaping of their hearts.
I had to let some personality traits develop that I would’ve like to tame, (by tame I mean beat out of them). I had to drop my influence over their interests when it was my agenda I was pushing. I had to choose my battles. I had to focus on the God relationship and believe that if I could just get them to touch Him, He would touch them in ways I couldn’t imagine. Believe it or not, it was hard for me to let God take control over their lives. I suspected I would make better choices.
And let me tell you something, one of the first better choices I would’ve made was molding them into the pursuit of high-paying careers. But when I turned away for just a second God stepped on my toes and made them into passionately loving, creative funny people who serve and worship Him but are not interested in becoming a doctor and a lawyer. God got all up in my grill and started talking to my kids behind my back!
So I have one kid who wants to be a writer and one who wants to be a middle school math teacher (clearly not under my influence!)/youth pastor.
And I have two kids who talk to God and listen to Him more than they listen to me.
It’s a letting go thing. It’s a letting God thing. It’s a trust thing. It’s a thing I promised to do in 1988 and 1989 and then learned to do in the years since.
So they aren’t really mine. But I’m sure honored to have had a little slice of time with them. They’ve taught me a lot. I always thought a little freedom was sure to be a bad thing. I was wrong. A little freedom releases some great potential.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (New International Version)
16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.