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"Many times they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me" (Ps 129:2).
I couldn't imagine my friend losing control. Loving God and her family was her highest priority. I was accustomed to seeing her every few weeks then she quietly vanished from my life. I thought of her often, left messages, but still no contact for almost a year.
Then one day she called. And in the midst of inquiring what the other had been up to, she revealed the reason for her disappearance. Which turned out to be a long season of what I refer to as high-maintenance-parenting: sleepless nights followed by stressful days filled with conversations that leave you too drained to remember your own name much less keep up good appearances. When a smile is too difficult to maintain, we Christians often withdrawal for fear that we might be seen hurting.
My friend struggled to reconcile a situation that had taken place in her family. She and her husband attended church, loved God and provided a good home for their children. But they were not immune to teenage rebellion . . . even as Christians. She told me of the night her son was arrested and of his return home. In spite of everything, rock bottom had not yet arrived, his verbal attacks on her resumed, and a gentle woman finally snapped. She hit him.
"How did this happen?" she asked. "We aren't violent people. Things like this don't happen in our home."
Tears of confusion, shame, and regret accompanied her confession. I empathized with her and felt compelled to confess a time when I lost control.
My oldest son, Christopher, was hard to parent throughout high school. I did everything I could to keep him from smoking pot; to no avail. And he never denied smoking when I inquired.
"Yep, I'm high." He'd say.
He didn't care if I grounded him or took privileges away because the severity of cystic acne robbed him of a social life. He spent most of his time alone playing an acoustic guitar, and I often wondered how something so beautiful could pour out of someone so angry.
Eighteen was the toughest age of all. By then he'd mastered the pushing of every button I had. He wanted the freedom that accompanies adulthood but with none of the responsibilities. A combination that would soon lead to my emotional demise (at least for a moment). I don't remember what he said, but whatever it was, it invoked one of those, "this is my house" meltdowns. I charged into his room, stepped onto his bed, and began pulling posters off the wall.
In a flash, he stood nose to nose with me and after a few verbal exchanges I dare not repeat, I grabbed the collar of his shirt. I won't sugar coat it. I fully intended to separate my firstborns head from his shoulders and ask God to heal him later!
The next thing I knew, my husband, Michael, was pulling me off of him. Hours later when we had all calmed down, I said to Michael, "Christopher would never hurt me. There was no need for you to intervene."
"I wasn't afraid HE was going to hurt YOU. I was afraid YOU were going to hurt HIM."
By the end of the story, my sweet friend's tears had turned into the type of inappropriate laughter that comes from pain coupled with pure exhaustion. Grace had gently placed her feet back on the road to human frailty by prompting me to confess something I preferred to keep to myself.
No casualties to date in either family. God is still in control.
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus..." (Romans 3:23-24 NKJV).
Q4U: Have you "lost it" with a loved one recently? Apologize. Ask God to forgive you. Amend your behavior. Move on.
Published on Thursday, October 6, 2011 @ 12:55 PM CDT
I've seen him twice in three weeks...
I saw him twice in three weeks. Once he came over and played games with his younger brother. He was polite; his old self...said he was going to get more hours at his work place and train to become a manager. When he left I felt proud, hopeful, and more secure in the decision for him to move out.
Then I didn't hear from him for a week. I called to see if he would come by. He did, but when he stepped through the doorway I knew by the look of his eyes that we would have to visit another time. When he left I felt sad, angry, and more secure in the decision for him to move out.
And that's how it goes...for now anyway. I continue to pray. I love and miss him so much and at the same time I'm relieved that everyday of my life is no longer conflict-resolution due to teenage rebellion. My hope is in Christ.
I was a prodigal daughter for over twenty-years. And now look what I'm doing. I can't write another person's story. I don't have control. The same God who never took His hand off of me is covering my son. He allowed me to get in over my head so that I would become willing to yield to Him. Sometimes I find myself wanting my son to cry out, but not experience the captivity that accompanies rebellious behavior. But then his story wouldn't be complete. I will continue to pray for him, but this is his fight. And it will be his victory. One that I will one day proudly tell you about.
I believe that. Even as my eyes spill the kind of tears that would surely form a puddle if they hit the ground.
"You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you" (Psalm 86:5 NIV).
"Father in heaven, prompt my son to call to you."
Published on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 @ 9:53 AM CDT