Oftentimes, we as parents, insist on our children (teens and pre-teens, especially) doing things “our way or the highway.” But why? They are the living, breathing examples of God’s relationship with us.
Obviously, as their parents, we have a responsibility to guide them and teach them the important things about life. Right from wrong. Respect. Love. Obedience. And, most importantly, the Love of God. But, beyond these things, don’t we want our children to think for themselves? To know who they are in Christ and with God without us having to tell them?
As I was reading today, I came across the story of Jesus as a 12 year old boy. And, I guess I find it interesting that of the very little we know of His childhood, that this account, in particular, is shared with us.
Reading from Luke 2: 41-52, we see that every year Jesus’ parents Mary and Joseph would go to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival in order to celebrate. After the celebration was over, his parents traveled a full day’s journey before realizing their son was not with them (traveling with a large group of family and friends made it easy to assume He was walking with his friends or whatever).
They went back to Jerusalem searching for their son for an additional 3 days before finding him in the temple. When they found him, He was listening to the teachers of the law and asking intelligent questions of them. Clearly they were upset when they found him, his mother said:
“Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.” – Luke 2: 48
To which Jesus responded:
“Why were you searching for Me? ” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house? ” – Luke 2: 49
Jesus stayed behind and caused his parents not only a 3-4 day delay on getting back home, but also the panic that comes with losing a child. And yet, we are told Jesus was perfect. He was obedient in every way. But, clearly He still had the capacity to cause his parents grief and distress.
You see, He was here for a purpose (as we all are), but that purpose was not aligning with his parents’ plans at that time. It is interesting, because as parents, we often think we know what’s best for our children . . . absolutely or without question. But, we don’t . . . always. Each person was given a purpose when we were sent to Earth, that’s including our children.
So, why are we given this account from Jesus’ childhood which paints a picture of Jesus willfully staying behind in the temple (to be in His father’s house, granted)? If not disobedience, this surely shows a child who doesn’t seem to be quite “perfect” by the modern parental standard.
And to quote an infamous source, Sir Tophamm Hatt from the children’s TV series, Thomas the Train (Kill me now, please, for referencing it), Jesus caused “confusion and delay” for his parents, (which is an unforgivable sin on the show).- NOT to mention: HEARTACHE, GRIEF, and worst of all: FEAR.
Their little boy – the promised one- the Messiah- was missing for 3 DAYS!!
Upon finally finding Him- they ask their son WHY he has done this to them, they tell him how worried they were, and then they get His response.
It was not, “I’m sorry I scared you,” (typical for that age, lol), it was not, “I lost track of time, I got lost,” etc. But essentially, “What? Didn’t you expect me to be here?” Needless to say, they didn’t quite understand their son’s logic. It says He left with them, and he continued to grow in wisdom and stature, he listened to His parents in everything, and that He was well-liked by all.
What does all of this mean? What does it show us? I’m not really sure, to be honest- but, maybe, just maybe . . . it is showing us that EVEN when our children inspire fear, doubt, and anxiety within us- EVERYTHING can STILL be OKAY.
We can worry, worry, worry our lives away, especially when it comes to our kids, but what will it profit us?
God left them in our hands to protect and care for them . . . and probably also to teach us. We have to remember that they are still in God’s hands too. They were in God’s hands FIRST, and it is into God’s hands they will finally be entrusted.
You see, they are really only in our hands for a very short time (in relation to their whole lives), and we are constantly drilled about what we “need” to teach them, how we need to guide them, what will and will not scar them for life. Then we are told, that if we don’t do it right, we might just ruin them and then subsequently the world we are releasing them into.
BUT- What IF?
What if the reason we are given such a limited time with them in our care is so that WE may be the ones taught a thing or two about life. I know I have. In this life, I have learned the absolute MOST from being a wife, and especially from being a Mother.
No, we mustn’t just throw our children aimlessly into the world. But, neither should we pretend we are All-Knowing – last I checked- there was only ONE who fit that description.
And for Crying out LOUD . . . as a society can we please just stop doing a few things:
1. STOP re-arranging, pre-arranging, and otherwise arranging our children’s destinies. By forcing them into activities and/or educational opportunities meant to “set them up” for life. (Whose life?)
2. Can we please STOP belittling/ shaming/ undermining our children’s beliefs, passions, and spiritual “knowers?” (esp in the name of “helping” them)
3. Can we please STOP micromanaging every aspect of their lives? and ours too for that matter?
And, finally . . . Can we please START listening to them? Start putting them ahead of our agendas, and realizing they have purpose and insight too?
Look, to be honest, I struggle with this. I know I don’t have it all figured out, and yet I demand absolute obedience without question at times that I probably don’t need to. But each day, we have to move forward – each day, I have to learn from the day before. This is one of the things I’m learning.
I need to stop expecting perfection from my imperfect children, from my imperfect spouse- from my imperfect self.
Christ WAS perfect and STILL managed to cause his parents grief- all for being who He was meant to be. Did His parents punish him for that extra bit of grief, confusion, and delay? We are not told – probably not, if I had to guess – but, what we are told, is that He was LOVED.
I guess that’s the ONE thing we ALL need most – LOVE. Let’s work together to spread it around. Be Blessed My Friends!