OH MY WORD, my son is hauling himself around the suburbs as a newly licensed driver this summer, and I’m having an out-of-body experience.
It’s like I’m reliving all at once the angst of Kindergarten drop-off, the first day of sleep-away camp, and the time I sent him on a plane by himself. I know that in two weeks when he’s taking himself to band camp, I’ll be singing the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Right now, though, it’s like I’m willing myself to be in his passenger seat even though I’m actually doing laundry or sitting at my desk.
I’ve never checked my phone so often nor devised so many ways to say, “Be careful,” without re-using those words:
Check your mirrors.
Keep your mind on your driving.
It’s not you; it’s the other drivers that worry me.
Take it easy on that one particular road.
Don’t go some bizarre route.
Check your gas gauge.
Don’t get distracted.
Do NOT have your phone out.
Wear your seatbelt.
TEXT ME WHEN YOU GET THERE (but only after you’re parked).
I want to strike a balance between hovering and hands-off as my kids move through the teenage years. What I’ve realized, though, is that when the world seems scary, my need to control and protect goes into high gear. Often, I’m really not even parenting in those moments. I’m letting fear hijack me into reacting like a sit-com “sMother.”
So that’s one reason this month’s #trustchallenge is extra special. Each day as I choose to write out a simple statement of trust in God, I’m also entrusting my nearest and dearest to Him. I may not be in that car with my teen driver, but Jesus is—and if you just started singing “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” you know exactly where I’m coming from.
One scripture I cling to in anxious times like these is Psalm 56:3:
When I am afraid,
I trust in You.
Simple words, but they indicate that we have a choice: Will we trust our fear or will we trust God?
I’m a realist. I know there are threats, pain, and hard things in the world, but I also know that I can’t keep my kids in a safety bubble. I can, however, do my best to arm them with wisdom and then release them to God’s purposes for their lives. Right now that purpose looks a whole lot like my son driving himself to youth group followed by a trip to Whataburger. However, what looks like a rather unimportant blip on life’s radar is actually vitally important to the growth process. During that time he will be presented with choices to use wisdom and obey the house rules we’ve established, such as to go where he said he would and to check in when it’s appropriate. I choose to trust God that He loves my child even more than I do and that He wants him to become a trusting and trustworthy adult. That’s something my son can only learn as he gets out there and experiences life.
God’s desire is for our kids to increase in “wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and people” (Luke 2:52)—i.e. to become mature adults in all facets. Incidentally, those words were said about another boy whose parents struggled to release Him to God’s purposes. As Jesus entered His teens, He was ready to jump into God’s plan for His life, fully aware that His Father had sent Him on a mission to save humanity. His earthly parents had to hunt Him down in Jerusalem after a major festival, finding Him at last in the temple speaking with the religion teachers.
Mom and Dad were shocked, overwhelmed, and scared: “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” (Luke 2:48) Sounds an awful lot like some of the things I say when my kids prompt me to worry, though they aren’t usually hanging out in a church doing God’s work when that happens.
Twelve-year-old Jesus wonders why they don’t understand that He “must be in [His] Father’s house,” (2:49) but He willingly submits in obedience and honor to His earthly parents and returns home with them. In adulthood, He will begin His ministry full steam ahead, but I take comfort that God understood and sanctioned the time of parenting and also had compassion on Mary and Joseph as they gradually released Jesus to His true Father’s care. That also means I get to point to that passage in Luke on questions of honor and obedience to parents—if Jesus, who was perfect, still had to honor and obey, guess what, kiddo? You will still need to text me when you get to Whataburger.
So what about you, fellow mom-in-the-trenches? Who are you entrusting—or struggling to entrust—to the Good Shepherd right now? Where is fear hijacking you? Let’s take comfort that God knows we have fears but reminds us that when we are afraid, we can trust Him.
Are you local to Houston? Join me this fall for my class “Outfit Your Soul” at Faithbridge Church. Embrace who you are in Christ. Then, step out in courage to live with purpose, lead with grace, and love with your whole heart. Registration details here!