My son is 12. (any of the parents of difficult tweens out there, you felt the sympathetic wince that statement elicits)
Yep, he’s twelve–and it’s been baptism by fire.
You see, he’s our first, and our most difficult. And this year has been hard.
I was a teacher, now am a professor, and I have a graduate degree in Psychology, so I should have been ready for everything this year and this stage were going to unload on me–right?
I have been pushed to the limit of my parenting skills and my psychology skills. It’s just been plain hard.
You see, my son is hard-headed (that’s the understatement of the century!) He might only be twelve, but he thinks he knows better than everybody else. And the kid has always known what he’s wanted and has had the stubbornness and tenacity to go after it. The combination of these two traits has been a nightmare.
In one of our most recent battle of the wills, we tried another tact. Instead of addressing Gavin’s behavior (which was mean, spiteful, and disrespectful), we addressed it’s effectiveness.
We pointed out that his approach was not meeting and gaining his objective. In other words,
“You’re not getting what you want when you act this way! So why not change your behavior, and see if that gives you the pay out you’re looking for?!!”
I wish that my son would choose to do the right thing, because it is the right thing. That’s what I want, but sadly, he’s not there–yet.
But when we pointed out that what he considers his shortcut, is not only not a shortcut, but is preventing him from the desired end all together, he finally started paying a little bit of attention.
As I explained to him that my desire is not to hurt him, but to ensure his well being and his happiness…when I explained that we correct his behavior because we see and know more, and that he just needs to trust us, even if he doesn’t see how it makes sense or why it should work that way…I couldn’t help but see the correlation to my own relationship with God.
We know where we want to go. We see what we want.
And we see the quick route–the direct route–to our destination.
But most of the time, that’s not the route we find ourselves on. We find ourselves on what appears to be a circuitous route, one that sometimes seems to go backwards, wanders to rabbit trails, and even sometimes seems to end in dead-ends. Much of my life I have felt like Moses wandering around in the desert, knowing where I need to be, but unable to get there. Or like David, the anointed King of Israel who, instead of ruling as was his right, finds himself moldering in a cave for years.
When there is a disconnect between the life that is, and the life that we feel like we should be living, we become confused, disgruntled, angry, and often bitter.
“Why, God? Why?” we rail.
He gives us the dream, He sets our path, but instead of the path leading to our expected destination, we find ourselves in the desert, or hidden in a cave, forgotten, moldering away into anonymity.
I’ve had lots of these moments in my life. Moments when it seems like God stopped listening, stopped caring, and certainly stopped guiding.
But as I talked with Gavin, I was convicted.
That was the child’s response, and I am not a child. It is time to put away childish things.
Just as I am asking Gavin to trust that my way is better, I need to trust that God’s way is better.
Just as I tell my son that I am looking at the big picture that he cannot know, I need to trust that God is seeing the big picture that I cannot see.
This place, where I’m at, this isn’t what I wanted. Or at least, this was not the way I wanted it to be.
I thought I’d be much farther by now.
Next year I turn 40. By 40, I thought I would be established.
I have a fledgling writing career.
I am an associate professor, not a tenured one.
I’m not in the ministry.
My goal to change the world and help people in some large way, has translated into a much smaller sphere of influence than I anticipated.
And it’s taken me almost 40 years to get here.
But, I think I’ve been missing the point.
I’m a writer and a professor, and that’s what I always wanted to be.
And occasionally, God has used me to touch a few, not as a missionary, not in some defined role, but as I rub shoulders with people in my daily life.
The road was not the road I would have chosen, but, I have to believe, it was the road I was meant to take–the road I needed to take. God sees the big picture, the destination and the necessary journey.
It’s time I started giving God the trust He deserves. I need to have faith in a Father who loves me and who knows more, sees more, than I do.
“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