Isn’t it a hard truth to face, that we have to let our children make their own mistakes?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve made so many mistakes in life. Some of them pretty big ones and I’d love to just do a brain dump or even sit there for a few hours (read days) and chat through my mistakes and the consequences of them if it could help my children not to have to go through the same painful experiences I’ve had.
But it just doesn’t work like that. Those painful experiences have also been my learning experiences when I have grown, changed and learnt resilience. I pray all my children learn Godly resilience and are able to stand firm in their relationship with God and get through whatever trial life has thrown at them.
Life throws up new trials every day, whatever age we are. Yesterday has been an interesting one with my 8-year-old twin girls and I won’t go into too much detail but my husband and I had to have a serious chat with them and make them realise that their actions have consequences and that by disobeying my direct instructions they were putting themselves at risk.
I think they got the message as we had some graphic conversations (at a level an 8-year-old can understand) and I continue to pray for their protection and for them to grow in wisdom and obedience.
Once they were in bed I sat down to do my daily bible reading and yet again I was really captured by the devotional insight written by Max Lucado. Today it was based around the verse from Luke 15:11-32. Why don’t you read this story, commonly known as the Prodigal Son? It might be that you have read it dozens of times before or it might be that it is your first time but it was so reassuring to me to read God writing about our children making their own mistakes and coming back from them.
Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Give me my share of the property.’ So the father divided the property between his two sons. Then the younger son gathered up all that was his and traveled far away to another country. There he wasted his money in foolish living. After he had spent everything, a time came when there was no food anywhere in the country, and the son was poor and hungry. So he got a job with one of the citizens there who sent the son into the fields to feed pigs. The son was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he realized what he was doing, he thought, ‘All of my father’s servants have plenty of food. But I am here, almost dying with hunger. I will leave and return to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son, but let me be like one of your servants.”’ So the son left and went to his father.
“While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him. 21 The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Hurry! Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate. My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found!’ So they began to celebrate.
“The older son was in the field, and as he came closer to the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. So he called to one of the servants and asked what all this meant. The servant said, ‘Your brother has come back, and your father killed the fat calf, because your brother came home safely.’ The older son was angry and would not go in to the feast. So his father went out and begged him to come in. But the older son said to his father, ‘I have served you like a slave for many years and have always obeyed your commands. But you never gave me even a young goat to have at a feast with my friends. But your other son, who wasted all your money on prostitutes, comes home, and you kill the fat calf for him!’ The father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. We had to celebrate and be happy because your brother was dead, but now he is alive. He was lost, but now he is found.’”
I recognise so many of the personality traits of this younger son in one of my children and I do worry they will go off the rails. I can’t understand why they want so much more than life is already providing them with. Where does this sense of being disgruntled come from and whoever said they could expect everything they desire?
I don’t know the answers to my own questions and frankly, I don’t think it is really useful to keep meditating on them. Two of my children are happy with their lot in life and one of them feels that everyone else has it better. Have we parented them differently? No, I don’t think so. I just have to accept that each person is as God intended them and know that these tendencies to rebel and question everything will be used for good by the Lord.
My job is to pray and give thanks, he was quite clear when He told me this the other day, and who I am to argue with Him who knows everything?
So I pray for your children and I pray for mine that whatever mistakes they do make, they know we will always be there for them, supporting them, forgiving them, and welcoming them with open arms just like the father in the story told in Luke did.