Wednesday, October 2, 2019

when our kids hurt

I have started and deleted this post so many times.  It's never easy to talk about hard things our kids face, and I haven't wanted to say anything out of a wrong heart and mind set.  I always ask God to lead me in my day, and to help me to submit to His will, and twice lately I've gone to write about this, and then just had it disappear.  I took that as a "not now" from the Lord and didn't try again.  (This is not a new thing that's happened, this has been going on for at least a couple of months now.)  It's not easy to write about, and I would never call someone out on here or tell too much of the why behind all of this, but I really like to keep things real.  Our life is not without struggle and hardships, even though I don't like to write about such things.  I like to keep things on the blog light and more fun, but that's not how life is most of the time.

This morning I was looking through memories on Facebook and I came across a picture that made my heart so sad at how things have changed so much in two years.  I don't know when this change started happening for my sons, but the last couple of years have been really hard on all of them.  I know they say that girls are the ones who experience or cause all the drama, but it's there for boys, as well, just in a slightly different form.  It seems like with each of my sons, during their senior year, all the friendships they had for years began to fall apart.  It was that way with the oldest two, but now, my younger two are walking this.  And they're not seniors, just juniors.  They went from being part of a large group to being totally pushed out.

Some of this started when things started to change in their youth leadership, and then things really escalated a year ago, when they experienced some hurts from several of those adults they had been close to.  I think that it affected them so much that they've all kind of withdrawn from being close to anyone like that again, with the exception of my oldest.  There are two men who taught him on Sundays in bible fellowship class, that he is still extremely close to and has lunch with them anytime he's out their way and they're available.  The others have pulled away from being involved in Sunday morning bible fellowship classes (for more reasons than I'll say on here), and now their friend group has dwindled down to just a few people.  They've been hurt, and right now, the younger two have trust issues. I don't blame them, because I've had a front row seat to all they've been through.

All that they've gone through boils down to just one thing, and that is the heart condition of everyone involved, MY OWN INCLUDED.  I say that because everyone in life is either walking with God, or they're not.  The bible tells us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, and then to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  (Matthew 22:36-40)  We're all either doing that, or we're not.  My greatest prayer is just that for all of us within my own family.  I also pray that the Lord would guard us all from ever turning away from Him.  I say all the time that we know the Lord will never leave us or forsake, but any of us could certainly turn our back on Him.  How many people do you know that have done that?  I know of a few personally, and that is so scary to me. 

Just this Sunday in the message my pastor preached, he gave this frightening statistic: when teenagers leave home to attend a college or university, at least over 70% of them never again return to church.  That is extremely alarming!  And also, everywhere around us are people who think they're believers, but that are not, both out in the world AND within the church.  (Keep in mind these ones who have given my sons a hard time are all friends from church.)  I think of a friend of one of my sons, who questions parts of the bible.  He believes some of it to be true, but he says that other areas of it pertaining to the issue he struggles with are "gray" or unclear.  Know this: the word of God is VERY CLEAR.

I know that in the grand scheme of life, this is not a real big issue to a lot of people, but for a mom, it's hard.  It is hard to see your kids struggle, and any time they hurt, I hurt.  I have prayed and prayed and prayed for them regarding this, and a couple of things have become so clear to me, that the Lord seems to be reminding me. 

One huge thing that I feel like the Lord reminded me of in the past few days is that though their friendships may be few right now, they're very close to each other as brothers.  On Monday night, Drew came downstairs to tell us that they all had plans this week, they were going to a U of M Tigers basketball game together Thursday night at the FedEx Forum.  That THRILLS my heart.  They came up with this on their own, planned it together and bought their own tickets.  (Praise God our boys have jobs to be able to do this!)  This is something they wanted to do, and they took that initiative all on their own.  From the time they were sitting in a booster seat at our kitchen table, I have told them repeatedly that friends would come and go over the years, but they would always have each other.  And in our house, if you're mean to one of them, you have all of them to contend with.  We're a package deal around here, and we never tolerated meanness from anyone.  But to know they listened to this, and that the Lord has answered that prayer of mine is so very encouraging.

 The second thing is something that my friend keeps also reminding me of, and that is how close they all are to my husband.  It's good for sons and dads to be close.  I always say that the moms are important in a son's life for the nurturing part of parenting, but the dad is the most important and influential relationship in a boy's life.  This relationship they all have with Todd is invaluable, and he pours into them in the way of quality time.  Just last weekend, he asked all of them if any of them wanted to go to the Alabama game with him on Saturday.  Three of them had plans, but Noah jumped at the chance.  He asked if they could take his friend Jacob with them, and of course Todd said yes, so they left that morning and didn't return until late that night.  That is priceless and will spill over into all of them as they become adults, husbands, and fathers.

The last thing I'll write about that the Lord keeps reminding me is that He knew what it was like to have problems with his friends.  Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples who walked closely with Him while He walked on this earth a couple of thousand years ago, and then he became the one who handed Jesus over to be crucified.  Who better to turn to, than the One who experienced all that hurt and betrayal?   He knows every detail of our lives, so why not just pour it all out to Him in prayer?  Sometimes just talking to the Lord about things we face is enough and very healing.  He helps us along in life, and He never wastes anything difficult and painful that we go through.  He uses those things to teach us lessons, and we have to be present and ready to learn.  This reminds me of what Romans 8:28 says: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  

  The Lord is faithful, and He will carry them through this.  I'm glad they're learning early on what it is to be a friend to others, and I am also thankful for the lesson they've learned on what NOT TO DO as a friend to others.  All of this has shown them what true friendship looks like.  Friends don't turn on each other, friends don't say mean things to you to you or about you, and they certainly never ostracize you.  Now, my sons have never been perfect in any of their friendships either, and have contributed their fair share of the drama.  I can't write this without saying that.  But they have all learned their lesson, and that continues today.  Prayerfully, this will be a lesson they never forget.  And maybe the Lord will move in the hearts of the ones they've had such problems with.  That is my prayer, and trust me when I say it's not easy to pray for someone who's been ugly.  I have also reminded all of them over the years of these trials that even if people don't ask for forgiveness, that we have to forgive them anyway.  As the Lord has forgiven us, so must we forgive others.  That is in Colossians 3:13.

I'll leave you with the picture that inspired this post today.  It just struck me when I saw it, of how much things have changed for my sons, and how different things look in their lives.  This memory is from one of the praise and worship nights we had two years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday.  I could hardly sing, because of what you see.  There is something about teenagers seeking after God in the midst of other younger and older believers.  We don't have to have separate nights for the age groups for things like this, because we won't be separated in heaven someday.  We'll all be worshiping at the feet of Jesus together.  That is what this night reminds me of.  Isn't this beautiful?

I pray these words encourage someone else watching their kids struggle.  I know it's temporary and that things won't be like this forever.  My prayer is that through this they will grow closer to the Lord in their relationships with Him, and that they'll grow closer to each other, as brothers.  God is good ALL THE TIME, my friends, and all the time, God is good. 

Love to all. 

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