Recently my kids had a snow day and school was closed, again. Just enough freezing drizzle was coming down to coat the roads with ice. Between school closings and the numerous two-hour delays we have had, the kids have not had a full week of school since the new year. Are my kids ever going to go to school? I wonder each morning as I check my phone.
As I thought about a whole day with my girls at home, I started to get stressed. Not because I have to play with them and entertain them all day like when they were little, but because they are teenagers and want to spend every second on YouTube, Netflix, SnapChat, Instagram, or texting. Our kids’ world is saturated with things that encourage laziness and wasting time.
We have an extra bedroom that I like to call the Kurtz “dump.” It’s everyone’s favorite place in the house to unload all their trash and unwanted items. Why throw it away when you can just toss it across the hall and close the door? Piles of clothes and shoes, boxes of picture frames, old toys and stuffed animals, miscellaneous furniture, and books and games filled every inch.
Personally, I had better things to do than clean the “dump” today. However, since Bible study was canceled, and the girls were unexpectedly home, this was my chance. I had to make the most of it.
Today’s the day! I thought, as I jumped out of bed. After letting my kids sleep in a little (I am not a monster!), I informed them of my plan. Needless to say, my teenagers didn’t share my enthusiasm.
My oldest daughter proceeded to yell and whine because she wanted to sleep more and already had plans.
“Every other kid gets to do what they want when school is closed. Their parents don’t make them do stuff on snow days, they are all at work!” She wailed.
It brought me back to the days of her terrible twos that lasted until about age ten. My daughter was having a temper tantrum, once again, at seventeen, and I snapped. Oh, did I snap! Yelling ensued. Lord, forgive me.
Both of us eventually calmed down and we all worked on the room.
As I was telling this story to my cousin the next night, she asked, “How did you get her to calm down?” I tried to remember, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that softened our hearts and diffused the argument.
After thinking about it later that evening, I remembered I had been praying intensely for her. One could say I had been groaning in prayer for her. At almost eighteen, the season of raising this child was coming to a close. Panic had definitely set in.
Had I done enough?
Had I taught her everything she needed to know?
Will she make wise choices?
Will she choose to love and serve the Lord?
It’s definitely crunch time with my oldest. And I have felt it everyday for the last year. I have lived with the guilt of being an imperfect parent. I have seen the holes in our parenting arise as she has become a young adult. We can’t hide them anymore.
However, God gently reminds me that my kids have “free will” just as I do. Many things are out of my hands. They get to choose who they will become, who they will love, and who they will live for. And they might have a bumpy and windy road to the cross, just as I did.
So, how did the explosive fight end that icy morning?
It was prayer and the Holy Spirit that allowed love to enter in. Words of love and compassion started coming out of my mouth. It wasn’t me, though. It was God the Father loving on her through me. Yes, I love her deeply, but in that moment I couldn’t have been loving.
God is so good and honors our prayers in ways we can’t even imagine. He makes us better than we are. And prayer might be the only chance we have of raising teenagers who love the Lord in this crazy world.
We need to be persistent in prayer. We need to trust it’s power. God will honor His promises found in Scripture if we are faithful.
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
You may not feel the Holy Spirit when you pray. You may not feel you are getting answers. Through prayer, however, the Spirit of God changes us from the inside. He refines our inner places in ways that we can never imagine or know to pray for.
If you have a teenager, what have you got to lose? Pray for your teenagers. God will bless you as you seek Him and seek to love your teenager/s well. He will give you what you don’t have. He will give you everything you need.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
Pre-order Kim’s new book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids coming out February/March 2018.
Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids
I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.