The Nile famously flows north but loves flows south. Love goes top down and that includes the kids.
It’s easier when they’re little. Sure, they fight us on that 1 p.m. naptime and test our patience with long, made-up stories—but at the end of the day we know it’s them and us, us and them.
Then the aliens come. They take our sweet, toothy 12-year-olds and turn them into teenagers. And that thing can go either way.
Maybe they fight us on that 1 a.m. curfew or they test our patience with long, made-up stories—and at the end of the day, we feel like it’s them vs. us, us vs. them.
Watching them leave the nest can be a lot like labor. It hurts. Sometimes there’s screaming. You just want to keep them inside because it’s safe in there.
Launching them always was the job. Some of us just never imagined it could be so combustible or that parenting adult children would be so hard. And then we’ve got another problem on our hands: Stormy stories don’t line up with our social media feeds, so we go to Bible study with smiling faces and clenched jaws. We contain our pain to a surging silence that’s trapped inside.
Until it comes out.
And, oh boy, it comes out.
That thing in Proverbs 4:23 about “Guard the heart for it is the wellspring of life” comes true every time.
When we let our guard down to the enemy or pop psychology or our own anger and self-preservation, that wellspring thing comes true through anxiety and sleeplessness and strain on the marriage. It comes out when the enemy twists words, fuels the blame-game and smashes joy.
God’s word can guard our heart.
His hope can reach it.
His touch can fix it.
He can repair painful places from fiery relationships or prodigal kids or dreams that died. He really can. He’s been making something out of nothing ever since Eve took that bite.
After her firstborn son murdered her second, don’t you think Eve despised the sweet taste of forbidden fruit? Don’t you think she knew mom guilt at a level we’ll never comprehend? The fall hit her family hard, yet all we discover about her in the immediate aftermath is that she had another son named Seth. Or maybe we do discover something. In Hebrew, Seth has an interesting meaning.
Wow. There’s unbelievable pain in that. Every time Eve called Seth, she remembered he was what modern psychologists call a replacement child. I wonder if her bottom lip trembled when she called her boy. I wonder how old he was when he understood the weight of what it meant to be called Seth.
Seth was a heart-consolation to a mom who’d been weak in the garden and yet maybe strong in grief. Modern research puts into perspective what Adam and Eve faced. A study in the Journal of Family Psychology reveals that parents who bury a child are more likely to divorce, be depressed, use alcohol and have heart problems. And there it is again: Heart problems.
How do we guard our hearts when they’re breaking over a death, an estrangement, a prodigal, or a fiery exit?
Guarding starts with standing. Standing on God’s word, writing it on our hearts, believing it in our bones and relying upon it as a stake to drive into dry ground.
Some of us stopped believing that God was great because our circumstances aren’t. But God was never going to be reduced to some lowest common denominator of our circumstances. He’s been mind-blowing all this time, and His word reveals that over and over and over again. Here are some Bible verses we can stand on.
“I will go before you and will level the mountains …” Isaiah 45:2
“… you have put all my sins behind your back.” Isaiah 38:17
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy,” Psalm 126:5
“All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace,” Isaiah 54:13
That last one? He will teach our kids better than we ever could, and great will be their peace. That’s future tense. It’s not always now and it’s not always tomorrow. But great peace is a great promise. Parenting adult children is His job. We can let go of our regrets and our white-knuckle grip on the baton and pass it. We can trust the Lord to be a good teacher.
When we’re sorting through family fireworks or parenting adult children, it helps to stop and think about how much God loves us. How He views us. He puts our sins behind His back. God opened heaven and sent His Son so we could have peace with Him. All of scripture points to a reunion between a Father and His rebellious kids.
It’s a story that might sound familiar. It goes like this: The Nile famously flows north but loves flows south. Love goes top down— and that includes the kids.