“Mom, I have a very important question for you.”
I climbed in the bed, sitting as close as possible. Bedtime. The time they open up and want to talk about all the things.
“You know how I like freedom and independence right?”
I nodded. He continued, “Well, I wondered. Can I make all my own choices for my life from now on? Can I make my own decisions without you guys choosing for me?”
Because he was completely serious, I knew not to laugh or even chuckle. Anyway, I never want to belittle his ponderings.
“Well, Andrew, making choices and decisions for your life comes with great responsibility. It takes much practice and failure to learn.”
His question actually sparked an important conversation I hope he tucks away.
Andrew began to question why his 15 year old brother stays up so much later than him. Why he can’t choose his own bedtime. I explained that Jacob has established trust with us over the course of 15 years. He’s not perfect. He’s made mistakes. But he’s begun the habit of making wise choices. With wise choices comes greater freedom. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility.
“Andrew, you aren’t prepared to carry the load of responsibility that will come with so much freedom. Not yet. I believe one day you will. But we need some practice in smaller areas first.”
He nodded with a heavy sigh.
The following day, I shared the conversation with the older boys. I explained that Jacob has proven we don’t need to dictate a bedtime. He doesn’t misuse the freedom. I explained that when trust is built, it’s a beautiful thing. Freedom in the hands of someone who guards and protects how they walk that freedom out is lovely.
I believe it’s Dr. Kevin Lehman who never gave his kids curfews. He let them choose what they thought was acceptable and found they always came home earlier than he would have even required.
We all long for some breathing room.
Andrew was quiet for a moment. A moment is about as long as he can remain silent.
“Well, are there some choices I can make on my own at least?”
“Yes, I think we can come up with a few. Let’s spend some time thinking about it and discuss in a few days.”
Now I need to shift gears on you a bit. I can’t leave this post here and allow you to walk away thinking it’s merely parenting advice and a sweet story. God has been doing a very deep work in my heart lately. I can’t say I’ve handled it so well either.
But God in His kindness has allowed enough circumstances to press in on me to force me into a place of dealing with what’s easier to stuff in the the dark closets of my soul.
Shame lives in the dark. And it’s time I allowed His light to bring out areas I’ve never surrendered to Him.
Do you remember at the beginning of the year I shared how I didn’t want a word for the year but God gave me one anyway? It was surrender.
You see, Andrew asked a question that if I’m honest, I hold in my heart as well. And maybe you do too? I can resist God when I fight to maintain control. When I have to have my way. When I want to essentially be in control of my own life.
It’s pride. And the thing about pride is that is has so many faces.
I did something that was harder than I realized it would be. I made an appointment with a christian counselor. It is something I’ve felt God nudging me to do for a very long time. But I’ve become a master at telling myself everything’s good and I’m fine. To make that call, I had to admit that I’m actually not fine. I’m not ok.
But maybe it’s ok to not be ok? I’ve spent my life being dictated by an inner perfectionist, even as a child of God. I’ve felt a need to have everything right. And when it’s not right the controller inside me kicks in to make it all right. And then I leave no room for the Holy Spirit because I’m elbowing Him out of the way.
Man. What a gracious God we serve! So good beyond what we fathom. So patient. So kind.
The very day Andrew posed this question, I found out Steve and I would be teaching a lesson on pride vs humility to the kindergarten thru 5th graders at church. I laughed. This is so like God. The very thing He has been trying to refine from my heart is the very thing I’m going to have to teach on?
God didn’t place me in the role of teaching because I’ve figured out how to walk in humility. Nope. It’s so I can lower myself to student and learn. Surrender. Let Him teach me.
Lastly, He told me to get down. Literally, physically lower my physical body. On my knees, on my belly. Get low.
Humble myself before Him. Surrender fully to Him.
Lord, thank you that you love us too much to leave us in our selfish pride and arrogance. Thank you that you will go to extreme measures to shape and mold us into the vessel You desire. We open our hands to You in surrender. We love you, Lord.