Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trusting God to Direct Their Paths


I had been following them for several minutes before I even realized what I was doing.

On a recent vacation, I would get up early each morning and go for a run on the beach.  One morning, while lost in my thoughts, I inadvertently began following a set of tire tracks in the sand. As I jogged,  I placed one foot in front of the other directly on the path I was following.

Not only was I unaware of the fact that I was deliberately following the impressions in the sand, but I had no idea where they were taking me, or their final destination. But I had been following them nonetheless.

Upon realizing my subconscious actions, I chuckled at myself, and moved off the tracks onto the clean sand.

In the moments that followed, I thought about how often I have followed paths in my life, either knowingly or unknowingly, which led me to places I did not want to be. Into situations I would never have chosen to be in. Ending up at destinations filled with hardship, heartache and regret.

I also considered some wonderful paths I had taken. Paths where I allowed God to lead me, and was blessed with peace and happiness.

It was a sweet moment as I reflected on how God has not only rescued me from paths laced with hardship, but also blessed me as I walked down paths that honored Him.

As my heart processed these memories, my mind wandered to the fact that although I have learned to look to God for direction and guidance, my children are still learning how important He is in their every day decisions.  I thought about some issues that had occurred over the past couple years where wrong paths were taken, and disappointment and discipline followed.

I am convinced that nothing is harder on a parent than watching a child make bad choices, or venture down paths that are not good for them, all the while wishing they still had control. 

Although my son and two daughters are pre-teen and teens now, I still remember the feeling of control I had when they were younger. Control that brought comfort. Control that allowed me to guide their every step,based on love and protection, not authority or power.

For example, I could control what they ate, how much they ate, and when they ate. I could control where they went and who they went with; when they went to bed; who drove the car they rode in; what they could see on television; what types of music they listened to; who their friends were; and their wardrobes.

Although I am still their mom, and always will be, the reality is that as they grow, I can no longer have the same level of control as when they were little. I think for every mom who loves their children more than life itself, losing that control can be a hard pill to swallow.

As I pondered all these thoughts that raced through my mind on this sunny morning at the surf, I felt God reassuring me that although I do not have complete control, He does. Although I can't pick their paths for them, I can continue to guide them toward the right ones, while knowing that He will be with them whichever one they choose.

God knows it's hard to let go of control and allow our children to begin choosing their own paths, good or bad.  After all, He is a parent too. He hates to watch us suffer the consequences of bad choices, yet delights when we are blessed by good choices. And He offers unconditional love either way.

God impressed upon my spirit that morning that I needed to stop stressing over trying to be a perfect parent and feeling like a failure when they make mistakes. Instead I just need to have faith in knowing that He will always guide the steps of my children if their hearts are set on Him.

As I prayed, I felt myself breathing a sigh of relief. It was as if God gave me permission to relinquish control, and admit that as long as I am doing the best job I can do as a mom,  it's okay to accept that my job description is slowly changing. 

My job now is not merely to try to lovingly control my children's steps, but to continue teaching them to give God control over their hearts. They will make mistakes, take wrong paths, need rescuing from time to time, and be blessed by good choices - but God is always in control and as much as they are mine, they are also His. 

Although my heart longs to protect them and keep them on the right paths, telling them which tracks to follow and which ones to avoid, He is the only One with the real power to do so. In order for Him to have full control, I must recognize His sovereignty, and trust Him explicitly, while teaching them to do the same.

We  must train our children up in the ways of the Lord just as we are instructed in Proverbs 22:6, but the time comes when we have to loosen our grip on the reins. If we know full well that we have steered them in the right direction to the best of our ability, and we believe God's promise of love and protection, letting go seems just a little bit easier.

Psalm 25:4-6  Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. (NIV)


Have you struggled with letting go of control in the area of parenting? 

How has God shown you that His love, protective instincts, power and authority are sufficient to reign over the lives of your children?


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14 comments:

Pam said...

Oh my, Tracie, this post hit home with me this morning. Hello, my name is Pam and I have a control problem! Confessing it is half the battle, right? I just wrote a post this morning on our family blog about my son leaving for college in just two short months and how letting go of him is soooo hard. But the assurance that HE will never let go of him gives peace to this mama's heart. I'm still a work in progress in this department and am so thankful for HIS love, grace, and mercy as I continue to move forward : )

Happy Thursday to you!
Pam

Lynn said...

Wow, Tracie! It's as if God gave you a peek inside my heart today. I have been feeling this way for a while now, ever since my oldest daughter began her first year of college. That's now behind us but a new college year is about to begin and this year she will be in her own apartment-type room. Yikes! Plus, she's begun her first semi-serious relationship. Double yikes! I believe that I've given her the tools she needs to make good choices but.......this Mama is having a really hard time letting go. Thank you for your words to remind me that God loves my girl even more than I do. Pray for me as I take this journey.

Tracie Miles said...

Thank you Pam and Lynn for your comments! My oldest is starting college in August as well and I have been having great anxiety over the fact that she will be off on her own! But God really spoke to my heart about trusting Him in this, and I felt such relief. So I pray He blesses your hearts with the same comfort and strength to put our little/turned big ones, into His hands. :)

Sandee Story said...

Thank you for these words that I so desperately need right now. My 2 sons are home from college. One just finished his freshman year and one just graduated and is in the process of applying to the Navy Nuclear Program. I am struggling terribly to let God be in control and am amazed by how hard it is to let go. I keep agonizing over their choices (which don't seem very good to me) and trying to decide when to say something (which creates resentment that I'm not respecting their independence and adulthood). My stomach is in a tangle of knots and all I know to do is keep praying. Please pray that I will have the strength to persevere and lean on the wisdom and power of God.

Tracie Miles said...

Sandee- I have said a prayer for you. You worded it perfectly when you said "agonizing over their choices". I think we moms always feel that way, and although my daughter is only starting college, I already feel the lack of control over choices that lie ahead and it's hard! It sounds like you have 2 wonderful young men! I pray God fills you with peace today!

Anonymous said...

Yes! This is terribly hard for me. My oldest daughter (now 21) has always been "high maintenance" and although she gave her heart to Jesus when she was eight years old, she admits that she has trouble at times doing what God wants her to do. She thinks that she can control her own life and that she knows more than others (which may be a common thought process at this age). She was a prodigal at age 18, and due to that we thought that her rough times were behind her - but no. She is now 19 weeks pregnant and had to move back home several months ago for support (financial, emotional, etc.). The baby's father has relinquished responsibility, adding to the burden. I spent the first two weeks after finding out about this crying an ocean of tears and finding it hard to even show my face outside of my home. But at that two week point, my 11 year old daughter spoke words of wisdom to me. She said, "I know you think this is bad now, but God is in control. He allowed this to happen for a reason. Somehow He is going to work this out for good. We just have to be patient and wait and see what God will do." She is right, of course. God did not abandon her or our family before and He will not abandon us now. He is faithful to redeem these circumstances. I just pray that my daughter will humble herself before God and dedicate herself to putting Him first in her life.

Tracie Miles said...

Anonymous - your young daughters words have blessed my heart! What a precious way for God to remind you that He is still in control. I can only imagine how you are feeling but I have prayed that God will fill your heart with peace and use this unexpected pregnancy in a way that will reach hearts and change lives for Him.

Beth said...

Thank you for your message today and the comments shared by everyone. I needed this reminder. I'm not always good with the words, but I'm a mom to two boys. My oldest left over a year ago with the Navy and became a husband last month. It has been so hard learning to let go. I have truly found though that learning to trust in HIS love for my children brings peace. As Pam said..."gives peace to this mama's heart." I'm learning by trusting Him to direct my sons choices, it frees me to simply love my son no matter what. To hopefully show him through how I respond to his choices that I don't have the answers, but I know how to pray for him. I believe that is the best thing we can do for them as they go through their own journey's. Hope somehow that made sense. Truly loved your words. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Tracie;

Thank you for the post. My only child is leaving for college this fall. She will be several hours from home. I am very anxious about all of this. I can't sleep most nights from worry. Please pray for me and for her. It makes me feel better to know that I am not the only mom stressing about her kid leaving home.

Dot

Tracie Miles said...

Dot - I will definitely pray for you, and I know exactly how you are feeling!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post Tracie! My son is only a junior in high school but I too am feeling the anxiety over losing control over him. He is driving now and it is so driving me nuts. I trust him.....I just have a problem with all the other folks out there on the road. I still want to say who, what, when and where. I pray several times a day if not all day long to keep my baby safe and to have him do the things that are pleasing to God. Keep me in your prayers for I struggle with this everyday. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

TRACIE, THANK YOU FOR YOUR BLOG. I JUST DON'T FEEL LIKE I'M DOING MY PART IN TEACHING MY 13 YR OLD DAUGHTER ABOUT JESUS. I REALLY DON'T KNOW HOW TO APPROACH THIS WITH HER. MY HUSBAND IS JEWISH AND AT THE TIME OF HER BIRTH I AGREED TO RAISE HER JEWISH, B/C ALL OF HER AUNTS,UNCLES AND COUSINS ARE JEWISH, AS I HAVE NO SIBLINGS OR OTHER FAMILY WHERE WE LIVE. I FEEL LIKE I AM BETRAYING JESUS FOR DOING THIS. I DON'T FEEL THAT HE WILL WATCH OVER HER,B/C I'M NOT DOING MY PART IN TEACHING HER. GUILT LAYS HEAVY ON MY HEART.

Susan Dodson said...

Tracie, Thank you much for your message! I so could have used it a few short years ago when my son and daughter were going through those stressful teen years! I actually came to the realization that you point out in your blog...that God is in control...that I don't have to...or need to control everything...that I just need to guide them and leave the rest up to Him. However, I might have come to the realization a while lot sooner (with a lot less stress, self doubt, and feeling like a failure) that my job description was indeed changing. But thank God I did cobalt finally make it there.

Susan Dodson said...

Sorry for all the typos...thanks to swype on my phone.