There is a verse in the Bible about the “Wife of Noble Character” that I am wrestling with today. According to Solomon, “her children rise up and call her blessed.” (Proverbs 31:28) Obviously, these are not teenage children, right? He must be talking about her adult children, who have matured, moved away and then realize how awesome their mom was. They feel like dirt for the way they treated her, so they rise up and say, “bless you mom for not killing us!” I keep hearing that’s how it works. My friends who have survived the teenage years offer that encouragement with empathetic hearts.
Maybe they drive us crazy, so we will finally let them go. When they return, they’ve lived a little and learned a lot, and realize we are not the morons they believed us to be. The circle of life as a parent.
Loving children is a lot like backpacking.
Before your hike, you collect all the needed supplies, sometimes to the point of being ridiculous. Then you plan out your trek; you envision your trip and the amazing experiences you will have. You try to prepare for the unexpected and talk to older, wiser backpackers. You even read some books and work out to get your body ready.
Suddenly you find yourself at the trail head and the adventure begins. You are a little surprised by how tiring hiking can be, even while sporting your new high-tech boots. The blisters come and your legs ache, but the mountains are amazing and the waterfalls spectacular. It’s beautiful and hard all at the same time. Mostly beautiful.
Occasionally, especially around mile 13-19, the trails are not as clearly marked. You question which way to go, pull out your map and compass, which only make you feel stupid. You find yourself in frightening situations at times, like when a bear wonders into your camp and devastates your supplies. Unexpected blessings find you on the trail too; new friends along the way and breathtaking views of God’s creation.
Miles 13-19 have seen the steepest climbs and biggest storms, and I am currently sitting beside the trail with my boots off, rubbing my feet. I’m catching my breath and resting my legs, studying the trail markers, hoping I am still on the right path. The terrain is rough, but the views are breathtaking. I just can’t focus on the climb. Just over the next ridge, the trail will open up into a meadow. I believe that.
The thing is, parenting is something we can prepare for, read about, and dream about, but until we are there, we cannot imagine the work that will be required of us, the love that will be born in us, the pain that can come with a wayward child, or the joy that swells within us when we see our child living in his God-given gifts. It is both beautiful and hard all at the same time.
One thing is for sure, none of us have what it takes for this adventure called parenthood. Not on our own, anyway. God gives it to us grace by grace, as we go. If you are walking some rocky paths, sitting by the trail wishing you had been better prepared, or even if you are watching your own raise their own, we are better in community. Call it a village if you want, but we have to do this together. God’s gifts in you and his gifts in me, our prayers for one another and our children, and wisdom from the word are all needed for the journey.
I’m praying for you today as you walk the trail. Will you pray for me? Pray that I will look for the beauty along the way, even in the tough spots. Pray that I stay close to my Father, lifting up my crazy bunch to him, instead of trying to control them. Would you pray that I would not worry or fear, but trust God to have his way in their lives. I’m going to pray that we will both be transparent as we struggle, and open to the help and wisdom offered by other.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
And let’s pray that we can lavish love on our children as our Father has on us. Amen.