Raising children is hard. And I’m learning that managing the hormonal typhoon of the teenage years is even harder. Potty-training, teething, and sleepless nights are nothing compared to the mood swings, mouthing-off, and constant desire to assert independence that comes with adolescence. But as I have watched those who came before me navigate these murky waters, and as I am cautiously trudging through the black sea myself, there are great truths in God’s Word that encourage me and keep me going, despite the storm.
I have read the account of “the fall” in Genesis many times (see Genesis Chapter 3).Years of Sunday School lessons with coloring pages depicting the serpent coiling around a branch high above the head of Eve as she takes that first bite, vividly assured that I would never be able to forget how sin entered this world and man was cursed. But it wasn’t until many years into my adulthood, after giving birth to my children, that I fully began to appreciate what actually happened to Eve (and thus all women) as a result.
As part of her punishment the Lord God says,
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;Genesis 3:16 KVJ
It is that word sorrow that I want to focus on here for a moment. Most Bible translations use the word “pain” in this verse. But I believe the KJV’s use of sorrow rightly captures the essence of the burden of motherhood here. Because it is not just the physical pain of childbirth that we face. That is but a fleeting moment forgotten almost instantly as we hold the babe in our arms for the first time. No, I believe the true sorrow we face runs much deeper. From the moment our children are born we torture ourselves over them. What is right for them. How we should raise them. How we protect them. We ache when they ache. We analyze every decision. We love them. We hate them. We fear for them. They push us away and we fight to get them back. Because of sin, motherhood is now an agonizing sorrow in our hearts.
It is this constant juxtaposition of love and exasperation that, if you are anything like me, leads to sometimes feeling just done with our children.
But it is these moments of feeling absolutely D-O-N-E where I cling to two lifesaving pieces of driftwood as I desperately try to stay afloat in the raging seas of parenting: #1 I have not been called to raise children, but rather, adults. And #2 – These children aren’t really mine. While they have been given into my care for a season, they in fact belong to God. My job is to love, shepherd, train, and guide them and then let them go so that God’s ultimate plan for their life may unfold, whatever that may bring.
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) tell us
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
This one simple instruction carries such a wealth of support for me as a mother. Do you see the two words used here to describe age – child and old? I am training my children to be old. It is the old part that matters. It is the old that needs my focus. We spend so much time thinking about what we want for our children now that sometimes we forget to look ahead to their adult lives to determine if it will really be best for them then. So as I once again have to make myself “the bad guy” for not letting them see that movie, or wear those clothes, or say those words, or attend that school, or any number of choices I make on their behalf, I strengthen myself for the battle knowing deep inside that the old version of themselves would thank me for the guidance & correction. For taking the stand. Even if the child version does not.
But what about in the middle? What about when they are mouthy teenagers? Or know-it-all-twenty-somethings? Or an “I will shoot myself in the foot just to show you that I will do whatever I want” young adult? This proverb provides no assertion of what our children will do or who they will be in the “middle.” Which is why I cling so greatly to this next truth–that these children aren’t mine anyway. They belong to God. And those “middle parts?” Well, that is where He works out His plan for their lives and I just have to step back and let it happen.
So maybe right now your child isn’t making the best choices. I know sometimes mine aren’t. I feel frustrated and disappointed and wonder how in the world I could have failed so terribly in my parenting because they should know the right thing to do, and yet they still choose wrong. If this sounds at all familiar to you, let me assure you, you are not alone in these feelings.
Maybe their attitude is less than gentle or humble or respectful. Maybe they are selfish and hateful or mean. Maybe they have pushed you away so many times that you aren’t sure if you will ever be able to get them back.
If you are firmly planted in the raging storm that is “the middle,” might I offer you some encouragement today? In the words of a famous little blue fish, just – keep – swimming.
The Lord our God is master over the sea and the wind and the waves – literally – and figuratively in our lives. Trust that He has a plan for your children (Jeremiah 29:11). Be assured in the promise that His Word never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11). Be confident that the seeds of faith planted in youth will be brought to a harvest in His perfect timing (1 Corinthians 3:7) because it is only God who can bring an increase.
So what do we do?
We continue to love them (even when we don’t like them) and forgive them, as Christ loved and forgave us (when I am sure we weren’t very likable either). 1 John 4:19.
We pray for them. Philippians 4:6
And we cling to the promise that our sorrow will be turned to joy, in Christ, when He returns, for the glory of God. John 16:22
Gracious Lord God,
We come before you today in sorrow over our children. You have entrusted them into our care and Lord we confess that sometimes the fear of failure creeps into our hearts and we worry and fret and allow that deep sorrow to drown out our joy. Forgive us Father for assuming too much control over these children and help us to trust in Your plan for their lives. Teach us to let them go and rest assured in YOUR promises over their lives. We thank You for Your gracious love and forgiveness for us and ask that you guide us in also displaying that same grace and forgiveness toward them. May the words of our mouths and meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer!
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Please enjoy these FREE phone wallpapers as my gift of encouragement to you.
* All “Ask Cory” posts are based on an actual questions (which are reflected in the titles), and the conversations that followed. Do you have a thought you’d like to see addressed here? Click the “Get in Touch” tab and let’s have a conversation about it!