What if you had someone in your life who said to you, “You are the only thing that matters to me. I love you fiercely. I will never, never, never, NEVER give up on you. Ever.”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”–1 Peter 4:8
“That heart-swelling, earth-shattering, all-consuming love for your kids is what creates the challenges of parenting, yet make them all worthwhile. It’s the cause of your woes, yet also the cure. It’s the force that drives you to near-madness, yet the balm that soothes your battered heart. Love makes parenting tougher, but it also makes it easier.”—Annie Reneau from her blog “9 Reasons Why Parenting is the World’s Hardest Job” (For some encouragement and perspective, check out Annie at: www.facebook.com/motherhoodandmore and www.motherhoodandmore.com)
“I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They’re just children from the outside
I’m working hard, I tell myself they’ll be fine
They’re in independent But on the inside, I can hear them saying…”
–Sanctus Real lyrics to “Lead Me”
In a world where the names of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight bring to life every parent’s nightmare, where “Sandy Hook and Columbine” conjure up images of terror instead of learning and when “Century 21” is no longer a night at the movies; I cannot imagine how much more difficult, terrifying and crucial the job of a parent is these days.
It is 2 a.m. on a snowy, cold Colorado night…um…morning–
ME: Breathing heavy through my sniffles, “Mom, come pick me up.”
MOM: “Where are you? Are you okay?”
ME: “Come get me.” Sniffles turn to sobs, “It’s too–I can’t–I can’t do this anymore.”
Mom: “Calm down, honey. Deep breaths. Are you okay?”
ME: through sobs, “Yes..yes..I’m okay.”
MOM: “I’ll come get you, but why don’t you get a good night’s rest? If you feel the same in the morning, I will come get you.”
ME: Breathing a little calmer, “Promise?”
–I was twenty and living away from home for the first time at the university located 30 long minutes away from home.;) The terrible visions I had branded in my mind as I walked in on “the situation” that night did not seem as devastating by the morning light.
Sometimes you must shake the dust off your shoes and move on. I learned this that night.
All the unsolicited advice, the tumbles I took as I learned to walk, the countless band-aids and “mom spit” rubbed on wounds and that heartbroken night I made the phone call, I needed to know I had someone who wouldn’t give up on me.
Even at age 20, I still needed my mom to “pick me up.”–And she still does.
I told her I hated her and never wanted to talk with her EVER again when she grounded me for my junior year of high school (which, in hindsight, I totally earned!) ;)—And yet, she loves me anyway.
Just last week, I received a care package from her.
These days parents are working in a culture counter to effective families, working in homes that are divided in divorce and preparing kids for schools that have a common procedures for “lock downs.”
Kids these days are making decisions in a world cluttered with collisions of faith and strewn with newer and more addictive drugs. Our youth are facing temptations in a society laced with violence, bullying and media outlets where it is all thrust before them 24/7.
I watch as friends and family who joyously embarked on the path of parenthood, begin to struggle, wrestle and battle with things as their children discover this big, awful, terrible, beautiful, tragic, magnificent world we live in.
I don’t believe I have the resilient heart required for that of a successful parent these days. – I stand at the sidelines of this nail-biting adventure and cheer you all on…
Because of these life threatening hazards in raising kids these days, there ought to be a warning label affixed to those darling newborn babies. I think it would read like this–
Surgeon General’s Warning to Parents:
May cause: sleepless nights, headaches, heartaches, nervousness, extreme worry, depression, discouragement, disappointment, anger, sudden bursts of uncontrollable rage; May interfere with: your work life, your social life, your home life, your relationships to all, your ability to get up in the morning, your immunity to all illnesses…
“They step on your toes when they are young…”
-Good thing babies are so cute and innocent, because…
“… they step on your heart when they get older.”
-And then one can so easily forget their innocence.
But love them anyway.
I can name several parents who’re wishing they had the warning label.
—I wonder, would they make a different choice??
If you are one of those brave souls on the path of a parent, warning label or not, your heart must be strong, your skin must be thick and you MUST lead them through the hazards of this life.
No matter the age, in spite who your child decides to hang out with, regardless of those hormones changing their personality, and no matter how much they say they hate you, your child will ALWAYS need you by their side and to be willing to “pick them up.”
They need you to be their advocate in a world that is overcrowded with newer, more dangerous, more lethal avenues of life. As they journey, their paths can lead into more harrowing repercussions; they know NOT where they may tread.
They need you to set boundaries. Let them know that there are choices that take them too far.
They need you to forgive them when they say they hate you; they know NOT what they say.
They need you to lead them; to go before them and show them the way.
“I will go before you… and level the mountains and smash down the city gates of brass and iron bars.”—Isaiah 45:2
And they will always need you to pick them up; for when they fall these days, they fall hard.
And parents, I pray you would be encouraged. For all who have chosen the pitfall-laden path of parenthood, may you always remember that there is One who has gone before you. The Sidewalk Prophets sing “Love Me Anyway” which is a song that paints a picture of God’s love for you:
“I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway”
—May God strengthen you for this journey—for He goes before you and He is with you.
He loves us anyway.
He is the One who shows us how to forgive when it is counter culture.
He is the one who shines light into the dark places.
And He is the one who helps us to love when it seems much easier to give up.
And He will never, never, never, NEVER give up on you. Ever.
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20