Parenting: God's Way
Last week I had a rare opportunity. I got the chance to take a photo of my 21 year-old son in the exact same spot, in the cloisters of the exact cathedral in the town of Cirencester, England where he stood eight years ago when he was barely 13 years old.
Back then he was transfixed by the location because it was used in a scene from one of the first Harry Potter movies. When he remembered where he was, I caught a glimpse of that 13 year-old boy in his eyes once again. The fact is, nine years ago, he was a boy, but all of that has changed. When I looked that the photo I took the other day I was reminded once again that he was a man.
He's been through a lot since that first photo was taken--grown up right in front me. And I've changed some, too. I guess you could say that I've grown up some as well.
All of those years ago, when we were in England I wrote about what it felt like to watch him grow up and to realize that he would one day leave home to go on his own journey. I wrote:
"I will feel the pain of knowing that my son will one day grow up and leave. I will know the loss that comes with the realization that every passing moment is one that I will never have again no matter how hard I wish it otherwise. I know these things and yet I also know that each day God is creating a new possibility for him and for me."I've now experienced the pain and loss that I imagined back then. I've also realized the incredible joy of seeing a child grow up and begin to forge his own way in the world. I've been blessed to see my son's faith grow and deepen as well, which is an answer to the fervent prayers his mother and I prayed over him in his youth.
I've always been troubled by the verse in Proverbs 22 that reads: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." It troubles me because I know so many parents who trained their children well in the way they "should go," and then watched as their child departed from it when they grew up, and sometimes more than once.
I don't have a lot of answers for this, to be honest. I have yet to raise my other two boys to adulthood, and I am sure I am making a host of new mistakes with them I didn't make before. But I do know that long before I loved my boys, God did. And long after I am gone, God will still be loving them and guiding them.
If you are a parent or a grandparent who is grieving, worrying and praying over your child or grandchild--don't give up. Be the soft spot for them to land. Create a space for grace for them. Create good boundaries. Love on them. Speak the truth to them--in love. And never cease to pray that they will recognize how much God loves them and always will.
May you trust in God's parenting skills over your own. May you recognize God's ever-lasting, never-ending love for his children. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.