The parent/child stories of challenge seem everywhere. I do not know any families in my immediate circle who are having easy times with children, whether at home, grown up, or at home and grown up! As parents we learn how to handle the truth that we have no control over this sometimes source of our hurt and can only choose how we handle it. I have had months now to process the departure of my 38 year old emotionally fragile daughter who left for California without a trace. I’ve experienced and sometimes shared the gamut of emotions and perspectives. Today I’m more deeply settled into the reality that she is living her life as she chooses to live it, a hard viewpoint to accept for a loving mother, but one that is her choice. The choice given to me is what to do with that reality, how to handle it, and how to grow from it.
When we are born, our parents’ actions actually keep us alive. We depend on them for food, shelter, and clothing, not to mention emotional support that shapes us into the adults we become. As we grow, parents are to guide our choices toward safe and moral ones, yet as we grow, they allow us to begin thinking on our own, for mothers and fathers are intended to nurture good decisions and discourage bad ones. As our children, (and we), make mistakes, we all learn, and from the worst mistakes often we all grow the most. The impact, and value, of the missteps often depend on what actions are taken after the mistakes much moreso than the results of the unfortunate choices, themselves. Not only do our children mature through their mistakes, we, as parents dealing with children’s mistakes are provided a multitude of opportunities to grow our ability to forgive.
Ultimately, the goal is to facilitate the development of good citizens of moral character with a deep love of God as they develop an understanding that HaShem, our heavenly parent , has guided the process every step of the way. Our children, and sometimes we, sometimes have just not been able to see it. Choices have been made which bring us eventually to a place of more understanding, whether through the tumultuous road of missteps, or more directly through better choices. Such a beautiful plan, and so ambitious for us mere mortals. HaShem’s part is perfect. Life’s realities are what they are. Thankfully, we have the gift of Yeshua to help us travel the often tortuous path.
Families are a microcosm of our society. Just as families mature and children become independent, so too, societies go through cycles of change. We seem to be at a time of great societal change, led in large part by our young people as has typically been the case throughout history. The question is whether the trajectory of the changes brings us further or closer to a life in Him. Judging by the chaos at times, both personally and societally, it looks like we, as a society, have a lot to learn. Thankfully, we have a patient Father always there to help us. We just don’t always listen.
Our children will continue to make their choices which, as they become adults are truly that, their choices. If they have developed, or rediscover, their relationship with God, the road may be easier, not in the sense of the objective events that occur, but rather, in how they handle the decisions and the consequences. Often those consequences affect those who love them which can become another important motivator shaping the lessons learned. A child’s thoughtless act can hurts those he or she loves. Knowing this can help a child to make the right choices as he or she thinks of love of another. In all the choices made, within a family or in our communities, if guided by love of the other, we learn better ways to walk this path.
I encourage you to love a little harder this week to help those we love be more easily guided to choose actions of love.