“It’s Like My Parents Used To Tell Me…”

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I only had one black eye, and I never raised a fist to get it!

“If I’d Only Known…” #3

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.  – Proverbs 1:8-9

I think back to my time as a teenager, and it probably was not that different from any other teen’s experiences today.  I’m learning things, doing more things, being given more responsibility, trying to figure out who I am going to be, working on being my own person, but in the middle of all of that there is a problem.  I still have people telling me what to do, my actions are questioned, and advice I might not want to hear is being thrust upon me.  Any teens reading this?  Am I remembering right?  I thought so.

It is a time of life that inherently involves struggle.  Some people say it is the “time for rebellion”, but I think that is an excuse for not addressing the issues properly.  The point of parenting is to get your kids to think and do for themselves so you don’t have to think and do for them.  Equip them for the world they will face so you will not need to keep doing it.  The thing is, in the midst of the process of creating people who think for themselves, a problem arises – THEY THINK FOR THEMSELVES!

There were struggles in my teen years as I watched my parents seemingly losing touch with the reality of life and how it should be handled by one such as myself.  I did not think they were losing their minds, but they did seem to be refusing to grow as I was, and it was just making it more difficult for us to connect.  I didn’t think they were hearing me, and many times they spoke in dialects that confused my ears as well.

There were times we connected on things and I was able to understand what they were saying, but there were many times that I took what I considered to be the best path because their words just made no sense to me.  I heard them, I remembered them, but I didn’t understand them.  I just filed them away in hopes that one day they might make sense.

Well, one day it happened.  There is an amazing thing that happens in the life of a man. Around the age of 23-25, his parents miraculously become smarter!  Their advice can once more be trusted and sought out as valid for application in life!  I know it sounds odd that two people who have had such a slide in mental faculties throughout their child’s teenage years can once again be trusted as being a resource for wisdom, but it is true!

The reality, of course, is that all of the things they taught me through those “hard years” just finally started to make sense in my head.  All of those platitudes of wisdom now had weight and meaning and were beginning to serve as the building blocks of how I would live my life.  I now understood the dialect and could understand not only the meanings of the words, but also the heart that had been behind them.  The result was that the same phrases that caused such frustration were now comforting to me, and served me as guides in different situations.

I am now the father of two of those “teenage” beings.  I see the look of confusion in their faces sometimes as I speak to them, and I know that they are experiencing the same thing I did when I was their age.  I see their frustration with me, and I know I feel it at times as well.  I recognize it is part of the process.  They are great kids, and I am very thankful of them.  They have made the hard job of parenting easier than I deserve.

I find myself saying some of the same things my parents said to me “back in the day.”  Those bits of wisdom, those phrases, those pieces of instruction are a part of who I am now.  They have shaped my foundation for living.  Relentless Living means I cannot consider myself complete because of them though.  There is more to do, and my relationship with God is necessary for that to happen.  I want to give my kids even more to help them as they grow.

My hope is that one day (by my calculations it will be in around 7-9 years) they will come to the same conclusion that I came to with my parents.  I was loved enough to be watched and instructed.  My prayer is that they will understand that and that they will remember what they learned and go on to do all the bigger and better things they hope to accomplish.  Then one day they can say,

“It’s like my Dad used to say…”

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“What Are Those Rocks For?”

a7e550f037ee595ae8d89a7e0fbe4245Last night I made a call to some friends to ask them for some prayer.  My wife and I have been working on getting ready for our daughter’s graduation, and that has led to a lot of hard work and stress.  We have been leaning on each other a lot, and I know we would be struggling more if we were not such a good team! Yesterday it became painfully obvious to me that I was on the verge of losing it at work.  At the end of the day I actually closed the door and worked in the dark for the last half hour so people would think I was gone!

I identified the source of my problem in fighting off feelings of anger, apathy, and a general “Leave me alone!” attitude as a lack of sleep and time in God’s Word.  Once that hit me, I sent a message out asking my buddies to pray for me, and also telling them that I intended to get in the Word last night.

This morning, one of the guys sent me a text to ask how my time in the Word and a good night’s rest helped me.  I felt like telling him that it was great and I felt better, but I “fessed up” and told him the truth.  I didn’t do it last night even though I knew I needed to. Then I told him I was going to take the time to do this morning what I needed to do last night and get in the Word.

I did it.

I read in Joshua 4 how the Israelites set up stones of remembrance on the bank of the Jordan after crossing into the Promised Land.  The stones were to be a reminder to future generations that God had showed up in the lives of His people.  Those stones had two purposes in my mind:20150522_094200

1.       They drew the eyes of those unfamiliar with a living God, and made them ask a question.  God’s plan was for His people to continue to tell His story to those that didn’t know it.

I have a paper on the door of my office where I have written things I am thankful for, and I have encouraged my staff to use it as well.  It has prompted some good conversations, and in a way it is like those stones.  A visual indication that something has taken place.

2.       They made the person who knew the story actually think about what God had done as they told the story.  They had to recall how God did His miracle there, and it probably brought back the feeling of awe at seeing God at work.

After reading my Bible this morning, I came back to my door and read through some of the things I have written and I remembered how I felt when I wrote them.  It was a great reminder to me that God wants to be at work in my life, and is actually there every day – even the days I choose not to notice it.

There was another thing I noticed when I read the paper on the door.  It had been two weeks since I had written anything on it.  Maybe if I had been thinking about what God has been doing for me, I would have been in a better frame of mind.

So, to the guys that were praying for me, I say, “Thank you!”  God used your prayers to turn my heart this morning.  I am still fighting the weariness and irritation, but I am very aware this morning of God at work in me, and I am relying on Him more today than I have been the last week or so.  I guess those stones on the banks of the Jordan still get the job done!

I could have just wallowed in my misery and enjoyed a big old pity party, but Relentless Growth will not allow that.  I want to thrive in the life that God has given me, and I am glad that He has loved me enough to give me His living Word and good friends I can talk to that care enough to talk back!

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