Any long-distance plane trip seems to have free seat-back entertainment anymore, but I prefer to spend long flights taking advantage of unadulterated reading time. Case in point, last week I finished two books, a rarity for me these days. One of the books, Coming Clean: […]
I had a difficult and highly disappointing conversation with one of my sons the other day. After ending the discussion, I was just…. wrecked. I try to remain optimistic most of the time, but some times are just harder than others, aren’t they? I’m only human with limited understanding.
It baffles me how children raised in the same household, with the same values, common experiences, teachings, etc… can have such varying perspectives and beliefs.
And yet they do.
Most people are quite familiar with the parable of the prodigal son in the Bible; it was a story told specifically by Jesus to His followers, because sons and daughters will test us – have tested us – since the beginning. Jesus shared this specific narrative about children going astray because He wanted to comfort His children; He wanted to give them hope.
That’s what He does… give us hope.
Sons and daughters have challenged mankind from inception. One only need look at Adam and Eve; even God was not immune from His first creations rebelling against the order of things. Not only that, but the Bible is literally rife with children turning against, walking away from, or even plotting against their parents. (Not that my son is conspiring to have me killed, but in some ways, his words can have just as lethal an impact on my heart.)
Cain. He killed his brother Abel.
Isaac’s sons… Jacob & Esau… Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright.
Jacob’s sons… At first they wanted to kill their brother Joseph, because he was the favored one. Instead, they sold him into slavery.
David’s son Amnon. He raped his half-sister. David’s son Absalom, looking for revenge against his sister, had Amnon murdered. He then plotted to overthrow his father’s kingdom and was killed because of it. Upon hearing the news, David said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” So great was David’s love for his son, in spite of all Absolam had done against him, he would have died in his stead.
Love. It’s powerful. Unyielding, regardless.
Another of David’s sons, Adonijah, declared himself king before David died, even though it was David’s wish for Solomon to reign after him.
Solomon. His son and successor Rehoboam reigned with such a heavy hand, taxing his subjects mightily, that he split the kingdom built by his father and grandfather in two.
These were the children of God’s most favored and chosen individuals. The ones He built kingdoms upon. The ones whose lineage threaded all the way to Jesus. The ones whose hearts and minds and lives were focused solely and desperately on God.
They loved their children too. Just as much as you love yours. Just as much as I love mine.
Children don’t do what they’re supposed to do. They don’t do what we want them to do. They don’t see things the way we think they should see them. They don’t always believe what we believe.
Sometimes they do. But for the most part, they fight against doing it the way we, as parents, have done it. They struggle against becoming us. They want nothing more than to be themselves. Which, if we really get to the bottom of it, that’s who they should be. It’s who we want them to be. It’s who God intended them to be. They have to figure it out on their own. They have to learn, and fail, and flounder. And it doesn’t always mean that our way is their way.
More importantly, our way is not God’s way. Our time is not God’s time.
To myself, I must consistently repeat this: My way is not God’s way. My way is not God’s way.
My time is not God’s time. My time is not God’s time.
I don’t know how He’s going to work out my son’s story. My other son’s story. My daughter’s. My husband’s. I don’t even know how He’s going to work out mine.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I know that – literally – generations upon generations upon generations have dealt with the same fears and doubts and labors and pains that I have.
I do know that anything I want and hope for my children’s lives, God wants those things for them – for me – for you – infinitely more. If I am heartbroken, He is more so.
But most paramount, if I am hopeful, He IS the hope.
I have French doors in my kitchen, the kind without the mullions. I also have a birdfeeder hanging from the porch roof right outside those doors, and in winter, it’s a hub of activity. While everything else is gray, quiet, and lifeless, the birds remain constant in their fluttering, flapping, swooping, and chirping.
It’s not uncommon for a bird to fly into the doors on occasion. When you’re outside and the light hits the glass at a certain angle and brightness, the reflection of the woods behind our house is strong. I can see why a bird could be confused.
One winter, my son and I were in another room and we heard a loud thud from the kitchen. While I was happily sipping my cocoa, comfy by the fireplace, my son went in to the kitchen to check: a pigeon had flown into the glass.
Walking back into the family room, my son shook his head as if to say “it’s not going to make it.”
And when I finally went in to the kitchen, I could see that it was on its side, one wing out of place, and a neck that didn’t look like it was quite right. But it was breathing, and having a sort of spasm with every breath. My boy had made a pretty good assumption. It looked like it wouldn’t live.
By this time, my daughter had joined us to watch the live reality show taking place on the back porch. My son suggested letting our cat put it out of its misery. My daughter, being one of those tender-hearted “animal” people, wanted to take it to someone who could fix it. Having seen numerous birds mistake our door for air though, I said we should just wait a bit. If it wasn’t injured, it was likely stunned.
So we trudged unhappily down to the schoolroom to begin our day. After a half an hour or so, someone went upstairs to fill water glasses. Sure enough, the bird was on its feet, still reeling from its crash, but certainly not looking like death was imminent. After more time in the schoolroom, we came up to discover that it was gone.
I started thinking that oftentimes, I’m that bird.
From time to time, something in life will blindside me. And at first, I’m paralyzed. I don’t know what to do, what my next move should be. I founder because I have a million thoughts swirling through my head, so many in fact, that inaction takes hold. I can clearly remember my first summer here living Lisa’s life from Green Acres. I had thought that after many years of wanting to escape Florida’s humid atmosphere and flat landscape, moving would be an adventure. Adventure it was not; torture was more like it. I didn’t know a soul, and being so far removed from even my next door neighbor, I didn’t even know how to find another soul. And I shut down, in a manner of speaking. I wanted to lay in bed all day. I had a hard time putting on a smile for anyone. I couldn’t even help my kids transition to what surely was a drastic change for them as well.
When the fog lifted, the paralysis stopped. Like the pigeon, I was back on my feet, but still experiencing spasms as everything righted itself. I lashed out at anyone and everyone. Anything and everything. And then I held it in. I sat, I waited, and then I exploded. Sat, waited, and exploded some more. Where had my life gone? So many thoughts swirling in my head still, just… now I had to speak them. Act them.
Loss or some kind of change in my everyday still hits me hard. I still become incapacitated until the fear and pain moves on. I don’t know why I still do. Long ago I should have learned that, instead of hoping for a quick fix or to be put out of my misery, it’s usually best to wait for that period of breath to come back, and the quivers to cease.
But I’m me, a human. I make the same mistakes and forget to learn the same lessons.
Once, we had a bird that sat at our back door pecking away at its reflection. It took an awfully long time for that bird to lose interest in himself. I’m easily too interested in myself much of the time to realize that there is a real world around my world. Sometimes my life mutates and splinters apart through no fault of my own. Very often though, I’m that bird crashing headlong into the glass because I’m blinded by not paying careful enough attention to the world around me.
But like the pigeon that flew into my door that morning, I find myself back on my feet somehow. I stop loitering in my own head and my world, and find the one He intended me to care for and about. Thankfully, He waits. And He watches over me.