The Parent Trap


untitledRecently a dear friend asked me how to navigate through parenting a post high school child. We’ve all considered the terrible two’s and tumultuous three’s as the toughest years but those years are a walk in the park compared to parenting a young adult. We usually think about parenting in terms of discipline, teaching, providing for needs, guiding and imparting wisdom. But once they become a young adult the terms change. And that’s where things get tricky. Unfortunately they don’t come with instruction manuals and most of us are just winging it.

But as I thought about her question and about what would be involved, I realized that the hardest thing about parenting a young adult is probably not what most people would think. The hardest part has nothing to do with parenting at all. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking we still must provide all the normal things that go along with being a parent as long as they are living under our roof or they are dependent on us while attending college. But the reality is that this is the time our children must find their own direction in life. They must be making their own decisions and plans. They will make mistakes but we have to let them. The hardest thing I’ve had to do during this stage of parenting is to let go.

3eb8bdbd9f50f036839664c20d966b71God chooses us to be a supervisor for our children. As their supervisor we train them and teach them about life. We’re responsible for much of their plans, activities and schedule. Another trap we fall into is the trap of thinking that the plans that we have had for their lives will be the path they choose. We may provide direction and support for their God given talents and abilities, but that doesn’t mean they’ll choose the life that we’d hoped they would. I’m sure my parents never dreamed that I would join the US Navy and move to the other side of the country but that’s exactly what I chose to do. It’s not our job as parents to plan out our child’s life. And as a young adult, that’s the time they’re beginning to question what their future will look like, what career they’ll have, who they’ll marry, where they’ll live. We can provide advice when they ask, but what their future holds is ultimately up to them.

Our job as parents is to prepare our children for life. God chooses us to supervisor their childhood years but that is a temporary assignment. They are on loan to us until we return them to God so that He can lead them into the destiny for which He created them. And this is definitely the hardest part of being a parent.

il_570xN.331205967Eventually our children reach the point where they are promoted to work directly with the Master Builder. They no longer need a supervisor to oversee them. During this season we as parents can fall into the trap of holding on to our children when it’s time to let them go. We can hinder their independence and growth by still trying to play too big a role in their life. We must ride out this season from the sidelines and let them discover the path God is leading them to. Interfering will simply delay the inevitable and can cause them to distance themselves from us even more so than they would naturally during this time.

They are now adults and we must see them as such. We have helped them to grow their wings and now is the time to let them fly. The temporary pain of letting go is manageable when we remind ourselves that we are entrusting them into the into the hands of the One who created them and loves them even more than we do. It’s time for us to enjoy watching our young adult find their way and discover their life’s direction. And we can find comfort in knowing that the next season of our relationship with our children will be as friends and there is no greater point to reach in the life of a parent.

Who Do You Say I Am?


Last week my son graduated from high school. In the picture he’s the one in red 😉 I always thought it would be pretty cool when your children grow up and leave the house to enter into adulthood. Now that it’s actually happening to me I realize it’s soooo not cool. It’s really very emotional, exciting, sad and inspiring all at the same time. It was 7 minutes into the ceremony when they played the graduation march and the graduates began to file in. And it was around 7 minutes and 2 seconds into the ceremony that my typically unemotional self lost it. In that moment I became fully aware that this single event marked a finality to his childhood. It was really over. There would be no do-overs for the mistakes I had made, the opportunities I had let slip by, the lessons I had failed to teach or the moments I had missed because I was simply too busy. That season was now over and it was time to enter into a new one. I couldn’t help but wonder what Ryan was thinking as he sat there with his 310 fellow graduates. I wondered if he was thinking, as I was, that the time had come for him to be a man and that whatever had taken place during childhood was now just memories mixed with the occasional regret.

As with all graduations there are the speeches filled with inspiration and encouragement and I listened intently to each one for nuggets of wisdom. One of the most profound to me was a simple statement from the principal. He said “Everyone will be remembered for something in their life. What will you be remembered for?” I thought about Ryan and wondered – 25 years from now when he’s my age, who will the world say he is? What will people think of when his name is mentioned? What will he be known for? It’s such a simple yet significant question for us all – when my name is spoken, who do people say I am?

Jesus asked this question to his disciples in Matthew 16:13. The answers were as varied then as they are now. People thought he was a prophet, a teacher, a dead prophet returned to life, John the Baptist and even a demon-possessed lunatic. His own family even thought he was a little crazy. Today people say he was a good man, an inspirational teacher, a leader or even a fictional character in a make-believe story. But after Jesus asked his disciples who others said he was, he asked them “who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15).

As Christians the question Jesus asked is just as important to us today as it was to his disciples in the moment that he asked them over 2,000 years ago. We all need to ask ourselves:

  • What do I say when someone asks me who Jesus is?
  • Am I prepared to answer that question?
  • Do I know in my heart who He really is?
  • Does my life reflect who Jesus is to me? And if so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

When asked by Jesus “who do you say I am” Simon Peter responded “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16). Jesus was and still is the promised Messiah. He is the substitute for our sins, the Lamb of God. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Creator of the Universe. He is the Great Physician and by His stripes we are healed. He is the sacrificial Lamb and the Savior of the world. He is the Great I AM and is Lord of all. He came to fulfill the law and He is the new covenant. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the One I adore and He is my Strong Tower. He is my Rock and my Comfort.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the King of Glory, the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Lion and the Lamb, the Prince of Peace and the Lion of Judah. He was, and is, and is to come and He is God with us. He is my Lord and Savior. He is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Who is He to you? Only you can answer that question. But I do know that you are the world to Him. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. When you reach the end of your life it won’t really matter who others say you are. It won’t really make a difference what you are remembered for because eventually it will probably be forgotten. The only thing that will matter is how you respond in the moment Jesus says to you “who do you say I am?” Are you prepared to answer that question?

What’s Your Story?


A testimony is a statement or declaration by a witness which typically provides supporting evidence to a fact or statement. In the context of religion a testimony is when someone openly declares or professes their faith in God by sharing supporting evidence of His existence based on their personal experience and relationship with Him. Many Christians have overcome incredible situations, not because of anything they did by their own strength, but because they trusted God to release them from a particular area of their lives that held them captive. I have known people who have been freed from the bondage of addiction, who have been able to forgive those who have done unspeakable things to them when they were children, or who now have an incredibly healthy and fully restored marriage after suffering though the hurt of adultery. I’ve known those who have been miraculously healed from a disease and those who have conceived a child after having been told they would never be able to do so. All of them have one thing in common – they trusted God to overcome the impossible in their lives and because of it they share their story with others who face the same circumstances in order to encourage them that God is more than able to do it in their lives too. Sharing your testimony is a powerful tool to bring hope and faith to those in hopeless circumstances.

I used to watch the cartoon “Kim Possible” with my children when they were younger. Kim would always get a message on her communications device from her friend, Wade, when a situation arose that needed her attention. Her first response was always “What’s the sitch, Wade?” and her friend would fill her in on the details that required her to respond with her superhero abilities. There was a never-ending array of “situations” for Kim Possible to battle. And like Kim Possible, most Christians I know face a seemingly endless amount of situations in their lives with the difference being we need God to prevail on our behalf, not a super hero. But what if you’ve never been through some major “sitch” in your life? What if you chose to follow Jesus from a very young age and have never encountered a major storm of life? Does that mean you do not have a testimony?

The truth is that no matter what you have been through or whether you’ve been through nothing at all, we are all sinners in desperate need of a Savior. The bible says we are born with a sin nature (Psalm 51:5). Because we are born human we are capable of sin and have a propensity toward it. And when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, “sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12). Sin levels the playing field for us all. No matter how “good” you think you’ve lived your life or how “bad” you think you are because of your past, we are all sinners who need the forgiveness of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in order to become redeemed and return to right standing with God. And we all have a story that needs to be shared.

If you are someone who has followed Christ for as long as you can remember and have been spared from having made choices that lead to grievous moral failures, then be grateful to God for having His hand upon you as protection throughout your life and know that it is only by the grace of God that you did not follow a different path. But know also that you should never feel “less than” anyone else because your testimony isn’t filled with regretful choices that led to major problems. You have a powerful testimony that you were born into sin and in need of a Savior. But by the grace of God you were spared from difficulties that many others have faced but you are nonetheless redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. You are proof that you don’t have to go through horrible circumstances to have a testimony and that you can follow Christ for life without succumbing to damaging temptations. You are proof it can be done, don’t ever underestimate the power of that message.

Dance Moms, Hoarders and Kate, Oh My!


Last night my 17 year-old son saw Dance Moms for the first time. I asked him his thoughts and he said “I feel like I need to report them to someone. But how do you report people who are on TV?” Between Dance Moms, Animal Hoarders and the finale of Kate Plus 8, we witnessed destructive parenting at its worst. And the disturbing reactions by the children, who witnessed the horrific and verbally abusive outbursts, is evidence that there will be long-lasting consequences. And the part that is most heartbreaking is that it’s all for the sake of selfish ambition, greed and pride, all of which are at a level that is hard to comprehend. We may never know the long-term impact that the adult’s behavior will have on their children. But what I do know is that many adult women have scars left behind by wounds, hurts and unspeakable acts that they experienced in childhood. Many times these unhealed scars are easily “reopened” and bleed into all areas of their lives. And in most instances the women seek healing in relationships, activities, food, positions that make them feel important or needed and in the worst cases, addictions. Unfortunately, these are only small bandaids for the gaping wounds that have been left. There is only one place to find true and lasting healing – in the arms of Jesus. If you are hurting and have scars that need healing once and for all, I encourage you to talk to someone about what that means. And if you have no one to ask, you can always ask me.