This is part two of a six-part series on raising older children.
You knew the kid. You felt her eyes on you, on your paper. She always copied your answers and never did her own work. Oh, sure, you could go through all sorts of measures to keep that copy cat from looking at your paper, but her eyes would still try to roam onto yours. I vowed to never be that kid!
But, I grew up, and, guess what? I became that kid!
Yep, that's me, the one who can't keep my eyes off your paper. Except your 'paper' is actually your family, your relationship with your older child, your current situation, you name it.
In part one of this series on raising older children, I stressed that we must be careful not to follow any one formula with the expectation of a particular result every time. In formula-parenting, we are assuming control and destiny of their eternity. But, this is wrong--God is sovereign and it is He who is at work in our children's hearts (and ours!). He directs our paths. In submitting to God's plans for our families, we understand that we will go through different things for the purpose of seeing our great need for Jesus Christ, our Savior.
When things may not be going well, we must remember this truth about God being in control and doing His good work in drawing us to Jesus. Otherwise, we are going to be tempted to let our eyes roam.
Don't Look To The Right
Even among those of us with the best of intentions to keep our eyes on our own papers, it can be so tempting to look over to our neighbor on the right. She is enjoying her adult children in so many ways. God seems to be blessing her beyond belief! When you look down at your own 'paper', you realize how much you're missing. Why wouldn't God bless you in the same ways? What did I do wrong? Oh yes...that question. And for the next day, or two or three, you spend your time and energy counting and recounting all your mom-failures. Surely, eventually, you will figure out how you are the reason for all of these problems.
Except, this assumes, again, that YOU are the one in control of your children. When we look to the right and are tempted to follow that path of comparison, we forget the sovereignty of our God. Just like with Job in the Bible, God gives and He takes away. Perhaps this is a season where we are experiencing some take-aways. Can we still bless the name of the Lord then?
I'm not sure why we have to go through these removals of blessings, but because God is good and He works all things for the good of those who love Him, I can be sure that He is doing something good. This may be a refining of our flesh, or our children's flesh, from sin. This may be a deepening of our dependency upon Christ. This could be a lesson we need to learn in counting all trials a joy. If these three reasons were the only reasons for a season of take-aways, they are so eternally glorious that we should jump with joy! Honestly.
Don't Look To The Left
Comparison is one path we can become distracted by, but let's not forget other paths-of-distraction. One such path tempts us when we begin fearing our current relationships with our adult children when they choose to embrace sin. So, because we want comfort and intimacy with them now, we excuse or justify their sins. We enable them to continue in sin all for the sake of temporary happiness now. While love does cover a multitude of sins and mercy does triumph over judgment, we must consistently be living in a way that points our erring child to Jesus' righteousness. May His Holy Spirit be convicting this child of sin. May we not sacrifice our adult child's eternity all for the sake of being comfy and happy here on earth with us.
Fix Your Eyes
We need to stop letting our eyes roam onto other moms' papers. God has chosen the very joys and trials for each of us so that He might be glorified and we might be conformed more and more into His image (Romans 8:29). Keeping this proper perspective will prevent us from spiraling into discouragement, jealousy, and discontentment. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. Struggling as a parent of older children may be a cross you must bear, but can you fix your eyes upon Jesus and see the joy that is set before us?