The years after I graduated from high school were characterized by confusion, insecurity, and lack of direction. I often had a feeling of hopelessness, and the adults in my life really didn’t know what to do with me or my dreams of going to college and being in ministry. I felt very much alone.
After almost four years of wandering, I did finally make it to college. I had to make it on my own, but God provided for me and led me. He brought wonderful supportive people into my life. But I lived with the constant fear of something happening and having to return home to the lack of direction and hopelessness.
Because those years were so extremely hard for me, I purposed to make sure my own children would never feel the way. My husband and I have been very intentional in our parenting, making sure that from a very young age our children heard words of encouragement.
We have regularly pointed out their giftings, and made it possible for them to pursue any interest they might have. We have supported them in any way possible, and let them know that they are precious people who are loved dearly. They grew up in an environment where they knew they were loved, supported and that we would do all we could to help them pursue their dreams. They rarely heard my husband and I fight, and most of what we did, we did as a family.
I was sure that since we worked so hard to do the things that I felt were lacking in my own upbringing, our children would not experience the turmoil that I faced in my late teens and early 20s.
Did it work?
Well, both my children do have much more confidence than I ever had. They have grown to be very loving, sensitive young people. They know that we support them and love them, that they are not alone, and that we will help them reach their goals.
But to my dismay, as they have reached their late teens and early 20s, I started to see some insecurity and confusion creeping in. At times they have lacked direction. What happened?
I was sharing this with a friend who is in the same season of life. We had just spent an evening with a group of young moms, at a local coffee shop, and we were standing in the parking lot talking and reflecting on our own children and how we raised them. I told her that I wondered where we had gone wrong, because I thought that giving my children the gift of a loving, supportive childhood would mean they wouldn’t feel the way they have been feeling.
After we chatted about this for awhile, and she had shared with me that her own children have felt the same way, she looked at me and said, “Gina. My children have told me over and over that they had a wonderful childhood. In fact, if they could stay in the comfort of their childhood, they would! But they can’t. They have grown. Now it is our job to walk them through this season of life that they are in. They are figuring out who they are and what they are supposed to do with their life. They will experience some of those same feelings you experienced. The difference is that you are continuing to support, guide and walk them through this season.”
Ahhhh! The wisdom of God speaking through my dear friend! Eyes opened! Understanding! My whole perspective changed!
Somehow it can be easy to get into the mentality that if I just do something “right,” my children will turn out a certain way or they won’t have to face certain things. God is continuing to show me that isn’t the case.
I have done my job. I haven’t done it perfectly, but I have done it very intentionally and sought God through the last 22 years. I have made many mistakes and have had to ask for their forgiveness! I have cried and prayed over, and with, each child. By the grace of God, they had a happy and secure childhood.
Now I am learning how to walk them through these young adult years, trusting God to continue to do the work He has been doing all along, directing them to the One who will comfort them when they are confused, guide them when they lack direction, love them when I am not there, and give them hope when hopelessness creeps in.
Whether our children are toddlers or adults, we must remember that God is ultimately the One who does a miraculous work in their hearts and lives. What we can do is provide a platform for Him to do His work and live authentic lives that point them to Him.