Monday, December 14, 2015

When You Have to Teach Your Children the Hard Lessons

We have lived here for two years and while it's been a good two years it has been tough in many ways.  One of those ways is, unlike our last area which was more transient, most people have lived here all of their lives.  And they view us as outsiders. Not every one is like this, and I would say the majority of people at church have been wonderful, but there are enough people who feel that way to make it awkward at times. 

No one feels it more than my son, Nathan.  One of his joys has been being a firefighter. Yet, he has been on this department for two years and still feels like an outsider.  Other than a few men, he gets ignored most of the time.  Because he doesn't feel good about himself anyway, this is another reminder that he is different.  Then he starts to go down a bad path, feeling like we made a mistake moving here.

But the reality is we are here and will be until the Lord moves us on.  So I can help him to continue to wallow in self-pity or encourage him to look outside himself.  I can push him to find ways to rise above the ignorance of others.  I can encourage him to see what God is teaching him in the midst of difficulties. 

It's difficult to try and teach our children the hard lessons.  Yet, as parents, it is critical that we do that.  We can empathize with our children, but we have to point them to the One who has the answers.  If we try and make our children's lives perfect then they may never learn those lessons that God wants them to learn.  When I look back on my own life, I grew in my faith through those hardships.  I learned to lean on God.  I learned to look to Him for answers.  

So while I often want to protect my children from hurt and hardships, I do know that often these things are necessary in their lives.  So when Nathan is struggling with an unkindness from someone, I encourage him to look at what God wants him to learn.  I remind him of the good things that are happening and I remind him of the positives in his life.  I also remind him that circumstances will always change as long as we live on this earth, but if we rely on our circumstances to make us happy then we will never have peace.

Yesterday, he played the drums in church.  I received a Facebook message from a friend at church, telling me that she cried through the whole first song because she understands Nathan's struggles and could see the joy, peace and calm on his face as he played.  And that made me cry because there is someone who understands my struggle as a parent, and also understands how wonderful it is to hear that they appreciate my child.

We have grown to love it here, even in the tricky parts of fitting in.  I am learning to thank the Lord for the difficulties that my son is going through, because I understand that they are part of a larger plan He has for Nathan.  Those hard lessons are difficult but so necessary for growth.