Thursday, June 24, 2010

Raising God's Children

As I opened the refrigerator and stowed dinner’s leftovers for the hour in which they might avoid becoming a “late night snack,” I thought about the day’s events. Christine and I had had a rocky 24 hours. Her end of the year evaluation, something we’d always celebrated, had been marred by her self-absorbed behavior; a day I had anticipated from the moment I made the appointment became far less than I’d desired. Her nauseating, flirty, air-kissing nonsense that she reserves, apparently, only for those deserving, was contrasted sharply by the blatant snubs she offered Scott and I. Desiring Christine to be a woman of breeding, class, and character, the last thing we tolerate is shallow or rude behavior; she managed to pull them both off in one shot.

Earlier today, she’d neglected to clean up a couple of things in the sink as she was cleaning her own. “But Murph just told me to clean my things; they’re not even mine,” was her attempt at absolution. We’ve been teaching our children, “If you dirty it; clean it;” now I see just how important it is to amend that to include a sense of community.

Christine will be an adult before we know it, or prepare ourselves for it; it is important to us as parents, she is prepared. I imagine myself, the day she leaves for college, or slams the trunk of her car as she heads to her new digs, or rides off with her new husband, tin cans trailing, or maybe even boards a plane to head off to Iraq, running after her yelling, “Oh wait, there’s one more thing…” As I tried confronting her about some of these issues, I found myself floundering, going in circles. I prayed silently for God to give me the right words. It didn’t seem to me as though He was listening. I continued to blow it.

Standing with the cold air covering my face, I breathed a sigh of relief that, at least for now it was out of my hands. Christine would be camping with her father for the weekend; I couldn’t screw things up anymore than I already had. I closed the refrigerator door and headed upstairs. Within minutes Madison and Olivia joined me for their obligatory showertime shenanigans -- dressing the dog in my rumpled clothes, dancing between the transparent shower liner and the curtain, gazing at themselves in the mirror – until it was time for them to hop in. (Oddly enough, some of the purest, most candid, most enjoyable times the girls and I have take place during our bedtime or morning routines.)

Once I flopped into bed I began to feel sorry for myself again. Thank God for free will, but when it comes to raising our children, it can seem like life’s biggest obstacle. “If only I could make her understand just how much I love her; if only I could make her feel what she will experience when she is raising children of her own,” I thought. Suddenly I was reminded I am no longer bound by earthly worries. I am incapable of changing any one of my children, which is why God does not expect it of me. My obligation as a parent is to be God’s hands, feet and voice in raising His child. Once I pray for the words, or the ability to remain silent, my job is over; God handles it from there, and who am I to say whether events that take place after that are fruitful or not. I am honored to serve in raising another of God’s children, but I am just a child myself. God is our Father, and the One who loves us enough to handle the tough stuff, supply all our needs, and listen to our cries for help – even when we can’t seem to find “the right words.”

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