No matter how many babies we watch mature into adulthood, people will always remark on how your kids are growing. I don't know why it still amazes us - children grow up, get taller, change into young adults - but we still feel the need to comment on it. There they are under your roof, day by day, eating your food and marking up your walls, loving you with their morning breath and wearing you down with their nightly breakdowns. You look back at a picture from last year, or six years ago, and realize what has passed - his straight little baby teeth, her unkempt, playing-wild hair, her make-up-less face and his baby-faced smile.
Did you forget that life was moving forward in all the swirl and whoosh of dishes and books and games and questions?
Of course not.
The real problem I see with this growing-up thing is that the problems grow larger, not just the children. The things they need protecting from outnumber my abilities to shelter these life-loving and living children.
Even the youngest one asks for things I'm not prepared to say yes to, things his siblings never thought of asking for at his age, because those first three-in-three-years have hit milestones so closely together. They are three teenagers doing what's natural and one littlest brother looking on, asking why can't I?
So these large problems, they're not my children, and they don't belong to my children. They belong to me I think. I'm the one worried and playing out the scenarios and trying to know the unknown.
They want cell phones and driving privileges and extended borders and for crying out loud my son wants to hunt bear, and all I can think of is how can we give them freedom and still keep them safe? How do I manage all the circumstances of their lives so that no heartache comes, no sin besets, and no failure prevails?
There's not a good answer for that.
This world is full of so many portals-of-sin, so many gateways to a distraction from Jesus and the narrow way. They are in my own life and I hold them in my own hands. I fight them in my mind, and I only wrestle down strongholds of word and deed by His word and I need, I need, a protecting of my own. I need a Jesus-covering like a mother's love and father's affection.
I worry that they might make mistakes too big for me to fix, and therein lies so many problems of my own.
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. [Gen 4:7 NKJV]
Sin crouches by the door of all who have the choice to do good or not, all of us tempted daily. The ugly part of the beautiful gospel is we all sin. No perfect mother ever raised a perfect child, and who am I, if not far less than perfect?
My children are growing. I'm learning to loosen the grip (really, I am) and focus on equipping them, more than on keeping them safe. It's tough, like all things parenting and living and following my servant-king, Jesus. But it's a good-tough, just like He is a good and fearful God.
Jesus came for us sick people. He pounced the sin that crouched and gave us dominion over it, to rule over it as we should. So all those sins I fear on behalf of my children? For the love of God, I must give them swords for the battle - not hiding places to retreat in fear.
Swords for the battle because not even a sinless life is safe, as Jesus proved.