Thursday, August 13, 2015

Spontaneous Parenting

Those parenting moments - the ones that catch you completely off guard - just keep coming.

The latest one jolted me out of a car catnap.

After our delightful day together,

Being goofy 

my 22 year old David was driving me home from Kansas City when his phone rang. I was, of course, aware of his answering it and chatting, but considered it merely background noise until he said something to the effect of, "That sounds awesome! A tour of Texas? When would we leave? ...[Pause]... Tomorrow?!"

I felt a little fear welling up in me and my first thought was:  Oh, great. Here we go again. Another spontaneous event where my child is not only on the road traveling, inches from speeding 18 wheelers, but also going places to do daring, potentially dangerous things with other young, YOLO  people.

I can't take it any more.

I'm not sure if that default thinking is a me thing or a mom thing. But I do know it is a real thing.

Now, before I go any further, I need to clarify that this post features David and this event, because it's the freshest before me. I could have written it about any one of my adult children and events each of them has been involved in. I also ran the skeleton of this post past David before he left yesterday morning - not so much for his OK to write it, but to share with him how God always meets me - helps me - right where I am. I wept with gratitude because I was so moved by the faithfulness of the God I serve.

But before those faith-full tears yesterday morning, there were the fear-full tears being held back as David chatted excitedly to his friends.

I was talking as quickly to myself as I could while he was on the phone. I was trying to get myself in a decent frame of mind so that I would be able to logically talk to him about this crazy trip being hatched. I wanted to think like a wise parent about it all, but here were some of my embarrassing, raw thoughts, in no particular order.

-How much is this gonna cost him? Can he really afford to do this?
-But it would be so fun. What great memories.
-He'll probably go cliff jumping while he's gone. Kids today will do anything for a memory and a story. (think Instagram and Snapchat)
-Well, I guess I'll have to mow the yard now.
-Why do kids today always have to be doing something "crazy" to entertain themselves? They have too much time and money on their hands. (Let me interject here that David hasn't been lounging this summer. He's been working since May at a camp. His only time off -besides his weekly day off - is August 8-18.)
-Ok, we didn't have any big plans the rest of the week, anyway. But I am liking David being home while Lou is in El Salvador. He's obviously not thinking about how this will affect me. (I hate how selfishly I can think).
-What if he dies on a completely frivolous trip?

Good grief. There were more, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Interspersed throughout these raw, basically fearful, thoughts, I can say I was breathing/repeating the prayer, "Lord, show me how to think (and feel) about this. Give me wisdom."

My kids know that if I get quiet when something comes up, it's because I'm not sure what to do with it. I don't know how to react. I don't want fear to cloud my thinking or my feeling. I don't want to "spit in their soup" by saying, "Well, go ahead and go. Don't mind that you're spending all that hard earned money or that I'm here all by myself."

But I also don't want to say, insincerely (and frankly, dishonestly), "Go! Have a great time!"

I really do want to be lovingly honest and wise and a good, encouraging parent. Sometimes I get so vexed that the things that are issues for me are even issues! I hate fear.

But fear is a factor I fight. The good news is, I don't fight it alone.

I went to bed still simmering on all of this, not knowing the final details of whether he had decided to go or not. I wasn't at peace, but I wasn't  in complete turmoil either. God gave the sweet gift of sleep.

Upon waking, I did what I usually do, and sat at my kitchen table and opened my Bible. I've been writing in my Journible from Luke 5 where Jesus tells the disciples a parable about new and old wine.

36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

I read/wrote this and decided I wanted to understand exactly what putting new wine into old wineskins did to the skins, so I googled "new wine into old wineskins." One of the sites I visited had good scientific comments about what happens when you do the new wine into old wineskins thing, but it was a quote farther down in the article that stopped me.

"Alvin Toffler illustrates this phenomenon quite eruditely in his book Future Shock, warning that where old and new cultures clash, there will be disorientation, confusion, stress, disruption ... and there will also be winners and losers."  Steve Wheeler

That was me last night! I'm old culture and David's new culture. I was definitely disoriented, confused, stressed and disrupted!!

(I did, however, balk at the last sentence of the quote - the "winners and losers" statement. David's wanting to go didn't make him the winner here and my dealing with this issue didn't make me the loser, or vise versa. I hope for both of us it made us learners, growers, maturers.)

The fact that I went looking for some scientific fact and came across something that spoke to my heart about a very current personal issue made me feel loved by my creator. It was like God defined my feelings, and defining them helped me understand them all a bit better.

I'm not really sure how my thoughts progressed from here, but in the midst of mulling this over, I began realizing that I was really harping on and on about me when it was just possible, that this trip might be a little bit about David, too. Maybe God was going to use this trip to do work in and through him. God had done some big things in and through people pretty spontaneously in the Bible. Jesus had asked Matthew to leave his tax collecting booth and follow him. He asked Peter and John to leave their Father and their nets and follow him.

Of course, Jesus wasn't the one on the other end of the line last night. It was friends - good friends - the kind of friends you like your children having. And it wasn't technically a spontaneous "spiritual" adventure, if you can really classify that sort of thing. I believe all of life is an offering to God - it's all spiritual. But God opening my eyes yesterday morning to the spontaneity that surrounded Jesus and those he was around, spoke to my heart about the spontaneous events that I experience with my kids. It's not carte blanche spontaneity, mind you, but it has spoken to me.  I'm not to immediately knock spontaneity, and I'm not to immediately fear it.

Some of you may be thinking that all my described "turmoil" was a little over the top considering the seemingly innocuous opportunity that caused it. Maybe. But you can't choose how something hits you. But you can choose how to respond. And when you don't know how to respond, you run to the one who can teach you how to think and feel and respond. Our Sovereign God. He is faithful. He always helps.

My David is off on his trip. Here's where he and his buddies are as of this posting.

It's a totally fun trip for them. I'm praying they have just that and that this trip - with all they see and do, with all they talk and think about, with all the miles they drive - will draw them closer to our Sovereign God, who loves them, and gave himself for them.

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