This post originally appeared on my Facebook page on Thursday, September 10, 2015. Now my website is fixed, I’m moving it here.
Tomorrow marks the kiddo’s fifth day back to school as well as my fifth day back to work. Truth be told, it really stinks to be back. Not for reasons you may think, either. Yes, summer went by extremely fast. Too fast! Yes, I loved being home with my boys. Yes, I loved not setting the alarm clocks. Yes, I loved not having to worry about homework (let’s not talk about those horrid summer packets). Yes, all of these things constitute good reasons for the beginning of the school year to stink. However, the real reason is stinks so badly is I have never been more aware of the fact my two babies are growing up as I am right now at the beginning of this new season in our lives.
I can feel the changes and growth in my boys deep in my gut and it is heart wrenching!! I feel like someone pushed a button somewhere along the line this past year and now time is traveling at warp speed, when up to that point, it just seemed to be strolling along a leisurely path where I had all the time in the world to raise, shape and spend time raising my little boys. My little boys who are now not so little, but in fourth and seventh grade. WHAT???
I just want time to stop. It’s selfish of me, but I need it to stop. I want more time. Especially with my oldest. While both my boys are kindhearted and loving, my oldest has always been my guy who is open with his feelings, freely giving kisses and hugs and wanting to sit close and talk. Sweet and hyper sensitive. He turns 13 in two months and the first time this past summer he threw a teen angst ridden, disrespectful one lined zinger my way when he didn’t get his way, I was literally crushed. He broke my heart. He immediately apologized and I could tell that he himself was a bit confused as to what he had just said, but it hurt all the same. My next reaction was that I should tie him up and take him to the nearest CDC, because surly he was overcome with some sort of virus that was morphing my beautiful, sweet boy into some unrecognizable creature. Honestly, though, my next reaction after sending him to his room was to call my mom, whose experience in raising my younger brother, was able to tell me that, yes, unfortunately, this transformation I was encountering was indeed normal for a boy his age. She went on to say, ” But, don’t worry, he’ll return to normal by the time he’s twenty.” Sigh. And, his voice is changing. I can barely deal with what that means.
My youngest, he’s not nearly as demonstrative in his affections as his older brother, but I cherish those thirty minutes at night when he crawls into my lap to watch tv and will quickly whisper,”I love you, Mommy,” so fast and low that when I say, “What did you say, buddy?”, in the hopes he will say it again, he will simply shrug. He likes to talk in the dark of his room after prayers. He is like a vault with his feelings and words during the day, but under the cover of dark, he will spill things he otherwise would not. I love those special times with him. However, like my oldest, he’s changing too. He’s becoming more independent at an earlier age than my oldest did. He didn’t want me take pictures at the bus stop or read to his class, because he’s not a baby anymore. (Too bad for him, I have no problem embarrassing my kids when it comes to pictures, so, trust me, pictures were taken). He wants no feedback on his clothing choices. Apparently, crazy colored socks to your knees with your shorts over said socks, (which, doesn’t that effectively defeat the purpose of shorts, if your entire leg is covered?) is the style these days. Sigh.
Last week, I had a true hot mess of a moment thinking about time moving too fast and my boys growing up. I had tears flowing down my face when my husband came down the stairs. He was totally clueless as to what I was feeling or thinking, so of course, when he asked me what was up, I was instantly ticked at him for not knowing. “What do you mean, what’s up? Don’t you even care that one of our sons will be off to college in just six short years? Followed by another in just three years after that? In less than ten years, they will be gone and I will be barely fifty? What am I supposed to do for the next, potentially fifty years after that if they’re not here?” He looked at me like I was off my rocker, and maybe I was a little bit, and he said, “Hello! I’ll still be here, darling,” and smiled brightly. I wanted to hit the roof. Instead, I just stomped off. He just didn’t get it. A huge part of myself and my identity is tied up in being a mom. I pride myself on being an involved, hands on mom. When they’re off to college or married, that’s going to be a hard identity adjustment for me to make.
I turn on the news and it is filled with absolutely horrible, unspeakable things. ISIS. Persecuted Christians, in America. Riots and looting in the streets, in American streets. Policeman are being shot and killed, as an act of hate. Raging fires. Crazy weather. Wars. Gang violence a mere three miles from my safe, rural community. Babies are being killed and sliced apart, their body parts sold to the highest bidder. It all sounds like something straight out of a best selling apocalyptic novel, but it’s all true. What kind of world is time catapulting my boys into?
Time needs to stop.
After stewing on these things more and more this past year and putting myself into a deep funk, I finally, this past week, glimpsed a moment of clarity when I was able to focus in on that small voice. The one that said, “Okay, first of all, they’re not yours. Second of all, where’s your faith? Don’t you trust me?” Ouch.
I grabbed my Bible, which in all truth, I have not opened too much these past few weeks, and opened it. I started researching parenting and children and what the Lord has to say about it. I’ve read them all before, and I knew all these things already. But I’ve allowed Satan to grab ahold of my natural sorrows of my children getting older and let them fester into fears and something so much more, that I was unable to remember these truths I know and to be comforted by them.
Psalm 127:3 says, ” Don’t you know that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of his womb, his best legacy?” Psalm 24:1 says,”God claims the Earth and everything in it. He claims the World, and all who dwell in it.” 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says,” You are not your own, you were bought with a price.” God is telling me, in no uncertain terms and quite clearly, that my boys, as much as I love them, and as much as I lay claim to them, aren’t mine at all. They belong to Him. Not me, but to Him.
God gave them to me for many reasons, but the two main reasons that stand above all others, is one, to bring me joy. “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of children,” (Psalm 127:5). “…their stronghold, joy of their pride, the desire of their eyes and heart’s delight, their sons and their daughters…” Ezekiel 24:25.
The second reason, and most important reason, is to recognize that our children, like ourselves, were born for a purpose, to serve Him and tell others about Him: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations – that’s what I had in mind for you,” (Jeremiah 1:5). “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God has a plan for my boys. Plans that include doing great things for Him. My job, while they are in my care, is to ,”Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22:6). Notice that He says, when, they depart, not if, they depart. My boys are, whether I like it or not, going to leave me. And why am I scared about the future? It’s a scary world, but God is bigger than that and promises to bring no harm and give hope and a future to my kids.
How do we train them up? Don’t worry, He explains that to us as well. “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
We are instructed by the Lord to completely immerse them in the Word. Take every opportunity provided to us, to teach them who Jesus is and what He has done for them. He promises that if we do this as instructed, when they are old, and ready to leave us, they won’t depart from that. We will have equipped them enough that they will come to a personal decision to claim Christ as their Savior, follow Him and serve Him. But, friends, notice that there is no word unless, or word except, in those verses. Even as our kids hit the nasty teens, and pull away, and start to naturally become independent and want to make some of their own decisions, we are still called to train them, even then. Even if they don’t want to hear or like what your saying. They are still children. Children aren’t really supposed to have a choice when they are asked to do something. I have heard so many people say when their kids hit the teen years, ” I don’t want to push Jesus on them or push them away from them Jesus,” and give their kids a choice as to if they want to attend church or youth group or Sunday School. Do you give them a choice if they want to attend school? No, of course not. Then, why do you give them this choice? This is infinitely more important than school. Take every opportunity you have for them to hear the Word of God.
My oldest started youth group last year. Thankfully, he really enjoys it. But, I know a time will come when he doesn’t want to go. Oh, well. He doesn’t have to go to the youth group pool party, but he will have to go youth group Bible Study. My youngest, now, he’s so much different than my oldest. He doesn’t want to go to church or Sunday School. It would be so, so much easier to leave him home with my husband on a Sunday, than to fight with him about going. But he goes. I’m the parent. I’m called to train him up. It’s as simple as that.
I came across a great post by Eugene Cho, that sums things up so nicely:
“Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them.
This is why it’s so emotional when you first drop off your child
for the first time in preschool or kindergarten, and then again on
the first days of middle school, high school, or college. It is a foreshadowing
of our purpose as parents to ultimately, release them. As much as we want
to hoard, protect, keep, board up, or lock up our kids, it contradicts the
ultimate purpose that God has for us as parents: Our calling as parents is
to love, nurture, protect, nourish, care, mentor, disciple, teach, correct, raise up,
To release. To send out. To send forth.”
I found such comfort in these verses and Cho’s words, after I allowed myself to give into my selfish desire and fears to want to latch onto my kids and not ever let go. To build a machine to freeze time. I have found so much joy in these two gifts from God and I need to repay Him better by trusting in Him more and praying my gifts, my sons, over to Him. I need to work better on my purpose in this season of my life, of surrounding them in His Word, and making sure I follow the instructions given to me to raise up men of God who want to serve Him. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and I’m not saying I’m done having my hot mess moments; let’s face it, I’m weak, we all are. But I’m so, so thankful for His grace and mercy and that he forever and always, has my back.