In January, my 21 year old daughter was the first to fly the coop. Strike up Barbara Streisand singing “Memories” and pass the tissues. While it has been quite an adjustment for all of us, it has not been too bad thanks to (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) the wonders of texting and the Marco Polo app.
On the morning her brother and I drove her to her new home in another state, I wrote a note to her that I planned to leave in her apartment for her to find after we had left. (It’s the writer in me). As I was writing, I was partially successful in holding back tears as my mind ran through 21 years of very precious memories. I kept reminding myself, “She’s not dying or even getting married. Get a grip!”
As I wrote, I couldn’t help but think about all the things I failed to do well or at all. My perfectionistic flesh was really whipping me good. Hindsight is always 20/20.
I imagine that some of you reading this have already had a child leave home through work, education, marriage, or some other reason. As we wrestle with the changing seasons in family life, we can take encouragement from some principles in the Bible that address our performance as parents.
We are ambassadors, not saviors.
If I could do everything right, then I would not need Jesus. It was never God’s intension to share his glory with us by making it so we could do a perfect parenting job. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says we are plain ambassadors with a powerful message. The Holy Spirit is the only One who is able to call and change our children and he does the changing on his perfect timetable.
God’s plan takes into account our failures.
Paul says in Romans 8:28-29, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” All things includes bad things. God is able to use even our worst moments in his work of conforming us and our children into the image of his Son. It’s never too late to confess our failures and ask forgiveness! Sometimes, it takes many years, decades even, before we see how God has worked/is working through our good and bad moments—but he is working!
God restores the years that the locust has eaten.
Our failures do not define us as Christians. God is all about redemption. Joel 2 says that “he restores the years that the locust has eaten.” Recognizing what I could have done better strengthens me not to repeat the same failures with my other children who are still at home. My failures do not have to remain failures! We can learn from them and change how we disciple our other children and grandchildren. I can also share what I have learned with other parents, thus helping them avoid our mistakes.
We serve a God of grace and mercy. He delights in showing mercy. Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” I am most grateful that my God—our God—is like this. It gives us great hope and confidence as we move through the different but challenging seasons of parenthood.