I hope you don’t mind, but this week’s post might read a little differently…..a little self-indulgent on my part. I have lots of thoughts and emotions swirling in my head this week and I’m pretty sure some of you may be able to identify with what I’m feeling. And if not now, maybe in the future or maybe in the past. My baby girl turns 21 today and I’m taking it kind of hard.
Being a parent is without a doubt the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Looking back I have loved every stage. I know there were days when I didn’t love everything about it, but we’ve been blessed with good kids who really never gave us much trouble and who have made us proud time and time again. There have been tough phases….the exhaustion of toddlers, the ups and downs of puberty, the drama of adolescence, but I have said numerous times to my friends with younger children that the phase of parenting “adult” children has by far been the hardest for me. I hope I can explain why.
You already know from previous posts, I like control. I like plans and I like for things to go according to plan and up until my children became adults, I was able to manipulate the plan – including their plans – at least to some degree. Now don’t get me wrong, we have always encouraged them to follow their dreams and their passions, but those have typically lined up just fine with ours, so it’s been easy to support them. Because of those dreams and passions, our lives have been full of activities and “busy”ness that have given us not only opportunities to watch them do what they love, but to also form relationships with other families and their children that are deep and cherished greatly. For the most part, these things set our schedules and shaped our lives and we were happy to follow along because the hustle and bustle filled us up and kept us content.
But now, life doesn’t feel like that anymore. Being a parent during this season feels like a whole lot of waiting and wondering and for me…..worrying. Are they happy and healthy? Will they find satisfaction in careers that they love? Will they meet the person God has chosen for them to marry and how and when will that happen? Will that person’s family love them as much as we do? Will they be good to them and faithful to them? Will they have their own families and make us grandparents someday? Will their spouses share their lives with us? Will they live near us or far away? Will they have to endure heartache or illness that we won’t be able to fix? The questions go on and on and for today can’t be answered, because I have absolutely no control over any of those situations. My role is simply to pray for my children right now…..often with what appears to be no results…..and that’s just hard and to be honest it kind of feels like it sucks some days. This phase of parenting for me is a series of unmet expectations that result in disappointments and the only absolute certainty has been uncertainty. It’s like being lost in a major city and taking turn after turn hoping it’s the right one only to find you’re going nowhere. God and I wrestle almost daily with me asking to just be allowed to see a glimpse of what lies ahead. He reminds me that He’s got this.
In addition to the constant focus on what is or isn’t going on in the lives of the kids, I am reminded that I have a life too. A life that for a season really only revolved around what they had going on and what they needed from us. The shift and focus back to me hasn’t been easy either. When I stop to ask myself what I want or what I enjoy I struggle to find answers. I am so grateful for a husband who recognizes what I’m going through and is on board to help me discover the answers. We’re learning to say yes to invitations that aren’t typically our cup of tea as we are aware that there is a great big world out there full of things we’ve never experienced. I would not survive this without him. But even still, I have days of restlessness and discontentment for which I can easily identify the source and I know the importance of beginning each day in fellowship with God asking Him to remind me who has the real control here.
I am a big fan of the Jesus Calling devotional series by Sarah Young and I use it daily. My journal is full of quotes from her words and the words of scriptures she’s shared over the years. It rarely fails to speak to me. Below are words from one of my very favorite days, ironically, an October day:
“Many people are so preoccupied with future plans and decisions that they fail to see choices they need to make today.” She goes on to point out later in the passage, “I, the Creator of the universe, am the most creative Being imaginable. I will not leave you circling in deeply rutted paths. Instead I will lead you along fresh trails of adventure, revealing to you things you did not know.” In other words, when the time is right, I will show you which turn to take to lead you down My path, but you have to pay attention each day to where I’m leading you or you’ll miss it completely.
Sure, I could write the rest of the story for my children’s lives and for my life, but do I really want to take that on when I have the Creator of the Universe writing it instead? Am I stupid enough to believe His story won’t be much greater and better for me than I can even begin to imagine? I am reminded in Hebrews 12 from the Message translation, “While we were children our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us…” In other words, he is a much better parent to my kids than I could ever hope to be and He has their lives in His hands.
I wish I could say that even after sharing this with you and feeling deep conviction about it that I won’t wake up tomorrow struggling with the same thoughts and feelings, but the reality is that I know it’s likely I will. But I can tell you that even when my heart struggles to FEEL it, the knowledge I have of who God is cannot lead me to any other conclusion than that the future will be full of adventure and joy and happiness that I can only begin to dream of. So, today I’ll celebrate with my grown up…and thank God for the incredible blessing that she and her brother have been to me. But, I’ll also probably cry a little over days gone by and precious times we’ve had along the way…..I’m so grateful for all of them.