Two years ago, when Joy was starting classes at Pike's Peak Community College.
This week, Joy is home from college, and I am going to enjoy every minute that she is home, so I will pick up Mentoring Monday, 24 ways next Monday. I will spend this week being a mama.
Having Joy home is such a grace to me as my children are truly my best friends. But one thing I have been thinking about as I have talked to her and to Joel and Sarah in the past weeks and even to Nathan, is how little "control" we have over our children. I am so blessed to be close to our children and love who they are.
But, I have been pondering a few things I wish I had known more about as a younger mom.
It is easy to develop ideals as a young mom about how your children's lives will look when he become older--their friends, college, meeting a mate, having good health, or Christian friends who share their values, or flourishing in their jobs, that they will live where you do or attend the church you attend--whatever your dream or ideal might be. But these expectations are often disappointed when our children enter their adult worlds if they have not been founded on Biblical perspective of this world, an understanding of this being the temporary place.
"Lay up your treasures in heaven" must be a grid through which we look at life as we lead our children day by day.
We can, in a sense control some of the external circumstances of our young children by directing their schedules, making choices for them, but ultimately, they will all have to grow up and stand on their own two feet. And they must learn to develop their own "muscle" and learn to walk their own walk of faith with God if they are ever going to be strong. We cannot do that for them.
But, this generation of young adults, (of which some of you are!), is facing very serious moral dilemmas, leadership crisis of every kind, a humanist world view, break up of the family, economic problems and more. And so I have learned, and so have all of the other friends I have who have adult children, that we cannot control the world that our young adult children will inherit. So we must do our best to prepare them to know how to manage their lives in the world they will be entering.
Life will never be "fair" to us, in this fallen world. This is so important for children to understand. If we do not prepare our children with appropriate expectations of what the world will hold, it is like sending a private into a major battle without training, experience, reinforcements, and confidence or a plan. Teaching our children to be spiritually strong is not about having them keep the right rules. A living, active relationship with God, themselves, is our goal. We will be sending our children out into the world as sheep to wolves, unless we train them in their character and in their expectations along the way, so that the "world" will not be a surprise.
Moms who are helicopter parents--who hover over their children, make all of the decisions for their children, protect their children from hurt, meet all of their children's needs so as to create "entitlement" for their children are preparing them for a disastrous future. If they are going to be "generals" in this battle of life, they must go through life training to prepare them to be able to stand strong--and to know what to expect from the enemy.
This world a place of battle for souls, for ideals, for faith, for stability. It seems that there is compromise in the lives of believers at every point. All of my adult children have been confronted with myriads of very serious problems and choices at each step of the way and the loneliness that comes from living a life of ideals and faith in a generation of young adults who do not value their ideals.
So, what can a mom do? I think one of the most important roles of a mom, is to start out giving her children to God and then praying seriously, intentionally for her children--an understanding that apart from Him, and His intervention and grace, our children have no hope and no formula is ever going to be perfect enough to insure their insulation from a very difficult world.
Then loving God with as much integrity and intentionality in front of them, so that our children will learn a life of faith from us and want to love the God that we love.
Because when our children face these very challenging places, they will need to have the means of finding wisdom from the Word of God for themselves, because we have given them this habit by practicing it in our own lives. And then teaching them how to walk with God on their own, so they can pour out their hearts and souls for themselves so that God can guide them and speak to the issues of their lives.
But there is one more central issue for passing on a strong foundation. We must teach them to live for God's kingdom and for eternity. Trying to build a kingdom in this world is vain, and if we pass on worldly values to our children, they may never find what they are looking for, as this world will not ultimately satisfy.
No one person will ever be able to fill all their needs or make them happy. (The world's picture of a romantic life.) And no amount of "things" or status will satisfy their souls. So, we must help them to understand that "He who loses his life," for the sake of the gospel is the only one who will "gain his life" and see how their lives can make sense in this fallen world.
To live for the kingdom gives hope that somehow, even in this broken place with broken people, our lives can have meaning in light of eternity. This is a secret for helping our children to flourish in their lives amidst all of the challenges they will face--to give them a heart that understands eternal consequences, and to live their lives writing a story that will follow them into heaven for all of time.
And finally, a mom is called to intercede for her children, champion her children and give courage and love and hope and strength each step of the way, because I believe that us mamas are to be the companions of spiritual strength and hope our children need. We are to help our children keep loving God, by loving them and giving to their souls, bodies and emotional needs, as long and as much as we can, so that they will never have to feel alone or unchampioned in this life. A mama's responsibility is never over till she goes to see Jesus herself.
And so, we give up the notion that we will ever be in control of our children's lives, but we hold fast to the understanding that we are God's servants of grace to them as long as we live. And that is why He thought moms were such a good idea when he made the first woman and called her the mother of all the living.