Home and family have always been a big messy part of my life – my youth family and my adult one too. I’ve felt cheated and robbed. I’ve cried a million tears. I’ve been so angry at God that I refused to even speak to Him. This one bit of my life is something I have absolutely no control over and there’s not one thing I can even do about any of it. Except love. That was a hard lesson to come by.
Our oldest son schooled me pretty good, as I’m sure most oldest children do. He was very close to completing a program at church that he had worked toward for six years. As the time for completing it drew nearer, I started to hyperventilate because it began to dawn on me that he had zero motivation for seeing it through. I tried everything to fix this problem- bribe, threaten, ignore, yell, super kindness, and yes, even patience. Nothing worked and all of my efforts just caused a lot of contention between us. Truthfully, it was destroying our relationship. It didn’t take long to see what was happening and I realized that I had to make a real decision – did I love my son unconditionally or was he going to have to earn my love? Yikes! Well, put like that… My decision was made, but not without some struggle, honestly it was hard to let it sink into my heart.
Not three months later, we were in the exact same position with an Eagle project that just needed to get finished. I tried to keep my mouth shut, I really did, but I am so performance-driven it was nearly impossible. Then, I realized that I had already made the decision – I love my son and want to have a relationship with him way, way more than I cared about an Eagle award. Shortly after this it was about a two year church mission and then about attending church all together. Yikes! Life can be full of lessons.
One good thing about all of this is that he paved the way for his siblings. No missions, no church, and a lot of love and respect. I know, those probably shouldn’t be in the same sentence, but there they are. Three of our children are still living at home – two sons with their live-in girlfriends (our sons are 24 and 21) and our youngest daughter – her girlfriend lives with us too. I could just pass on by these with a quick “it’s a long story” as if to explain away the choice, but it’s not the true story. We have invited each and every one of them into our home on purpose. Our oldest daughter, who is eighteen lives with her partners out of town. I love and adore each one of these eleven people and I am unbelievably grateful that I even get to know them.
Life is messy. My life is messy, but when all of this drama was happening with our oldest, I was getting a ton of advice and a lot of criticism from friends and strangers alike. It was shocking what many of them suggested, but I knew what God was telling me to do – preserve the relationships. What an uncomfortable lesson and one that has put me on the spot thousands of times. At first I was hesitant to defend myself with God’s message for me because who in their right mind would believe God would even suggest this or approve of our family life and then, it began to feel dishonest. God had plainly told me three times how to proceed and every time I tried to just pass by the reasoning, I felt like I was abandoning God when He had helped me most. I couldn’t do it any more.
I am proud of my children. They live in a difficult world – one fueled by “shoulds” and they have each chosen love as their path. I’ll leave the details to God. We have taught and prayed and cried and loved as hard as possible, but I feel peace and have faith that what God has said is what He means and I want to follow His counsel more than my friends’ or strangers 100%.