An open letter to my adult children

For the second year in a row, one of our children is graduating from high school. The eldest just graduated from college and there are two still to go.

It is almost unfathomable the children I birthed are considered “adults.”

This is scary. 

I know so little and think I have showed them even less. 

Just yesterday, Noah was learning to ride a bike while Emma was learning to walk and Seth could barely hold his head up. 

Though they were and are all delightful human beings, that period almost now seems a blur of dirty clothes, diapers, tears, pink eye, stomach bugs, ear aches, spills, and the like. They were funny and adorable and a joy. My mom told me to treasure the time because it would be over in an instant and because this was the easy part. 

I could not fathom how either of those were true, but like almost all insight given by those who have gone ahead, it’s nearly impossible to grasp until you get there.

Seventeen years gone by proves my mother right once again. 

The issues of yesteryear are not the issues of today and while we have many restful nights and far less to clean up, the issues now are, well, life altering.

Then it was easy to know what to do, what to say.

Absolutely do not stick your fork in the outlet. You are not allowed to put your hands in toilet water. Stop pulling your sister’s hair. This is how you tie your shoe. You say thank you when someone gives you something. 

Many, if not all of our directions at that time, were straightforward, common sense that young children have not yet developed. The subtle and scary depths of parenting “adults” is a far different task. 

Just three week’s from Seth’s graduation, my mind will not let go of what I want them to know, what I pray for them every day…

 

To my adult (and soon to be adult) children wanting to make their way in the world:

There are only a handful of things I know that I know after 46 years of living and attempting to grow up myself. Despite foolish mistake after foolish mistake, God has graciously, mercifully pursued me and continued to reveal himself.

I have turned away, He has turned me back.

As you live your own life, I can guarantee yours will include some mistakes of your own. That’s part of it. I pray now though, you will grow through them and learn He wants so much more for you than you can even imagine. 

Remember this!

1. First and foremost, God loves you. 

This isn’t a passing fancy, an “I-like-the-way-you-make-me-feel-about-myself” kind of feeling. This is an unshakable, unchanging, unfathomable love like you have not know known from anyone at any time. As much as your dad and I adore you all and want the best in your life, our love looks like garbage next to this towering miracle of grace. 

I may have thought I was going to die giving birth, but this God died so that you could have new birth. He died to give you life. Whether or not you cling to that now, my prayer is that you will one day recognize and cling to it for eternity.

God loves you. 

God loves you Noah. God loves you Emma. God loves you Seth. God loves you Macy. God loves you David. 

2. We are all broken people. 

Even the best of the best—the top of the class, the star of the team, the CEO, the guy next door, we have things that have utterly broken us. There is no escaping this. Some of it is our own fault and some of it is inflicted upon us, but regardless of the circumstances, none of us get out of this place unscarred. 

Because of this, relationships are hard. We are the broken trying to find ways to piece ourselves back together. There is this somewhat humorous irony: I don’t know that we are supposed to be put together. It is in the brokenness we find the same God who was broken for us. He was broken to know us in our own hurting places and to eventually heal us there. 

It is in brokenness that we can begin to understand and connect with all the other broken people around us.

If we let Him, He is faithful to use the pieces in ways we never thought possible.

3. Life doesn’t get any easier. 

In fact, it is probably only harder from here on out. The living part is just hard.

There is a reason people want to re-live the glory days of high school, cling to the college days. There is also a reason they are always looking to the next best thing. Life will be so great once I just graduate high school, graduate college, find a job, find a spouse, have a kid, pay off bills…

From the moment the lie that God does not love us entered the world, things have only trended toward difficulty. 

It is hard to earn a living. It is hard to find someone to love you (and no one will do this perfectly). It is hard to get along with people. It is hard to see the suffering in the world. It is hard to do the right thing.

Despite a scary world and difficult circumstances, do not be discouraged.

4. There is a plan for you. 

Though there are so many times we feel alone and abandoned. We know and can trust there is a plan in place, in motion more like it. It was established before the foundations of this world and your part, you participation is essential. It doesn’t happen without you moving forward, making choices, finding your way. 

It requires some trust on your part to know you are not forsaken. He will not leave you. He will call you by name and beckon you to Himself. To understand your role, you will need to hear His voice. 

Often we just want to know what to do. We say we would do it if we could see clearly what it is we are supposed to do. I have learned though, this is like cheating on a test. It is being given the answers when we are really here to learn. We learn from the hard stuff, taking one step at a time.

5. To find the plan for our lives and understand it requires communication with God. 

This comes through the written word, spoken word and living Word of God. He is literally the communication and all too pleased to do it with you as much as possible. He delights in it in fact. It is in this communication (communion), you will find Him and find yourself. 

Relish your down time, away from the noise, the social media madness that has swallowed us all. Look for places to find Him. He isn’t hiding from you. He is the one pursuing and there is great comfort in this. 

His written word will encourage every single day. No time in prayer is ever a mistake. Through these, you will know the Living Word Himself.

6. Pursue Him, pursue that plan for your life knowing that He is in it with you and will absolutely never leave or forsake you. 

When you have discovered His call, discerned the sound of His voice, you can wholly, completely, unabashedly follow Him. You will find so much grace you will be overwhelmed by it. If it were possible, you would drown in it. 

Freedom is the gift of this grace. This freedom will give you the joy and peace to pursue His plan, the glorious vision He has for you.

In the pursuit, know you will fail and fall and stumble along the way. It is inevitable. This, however, in no way disrupts the process. It is part of it. Thank God for it and keep on moving toward Him and all that He intends for you.

7. Lastly, when some seasons seem particularly difficult or seem out of control, or even if you doubt any of these reminders, be sure you never forget the first thing.  

God loves you. 

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vigorous resistance

Killing me is hard.

Long, busy days flow over into time reserved for community and grace. I grow tired and angry and resist the opportunities to meet with others to show love, to be loved.

Without exception, doing battle with me is treacherous. It always seems most dangerous and inevitable after periods of peace and calm before the Lord. Seemingly out of nowhere the self wells in rebellion. That this follows such precious moments feels counterintuitive and yet perhaps that is the root, the logical initiation of the cycle: Growing up and in knowledge of this good and gracious King will only bring about change. We cannot help but be changed by time spent in His presence.

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful,” Flannery O’Connor poignantly observed.

I know (head knowledge know) that Psalm 22, He has done it! He has accomplished His ultimate saving purpose and it is my day-to-day dealing with, well, me that undermines that knowledge. It is that painful change.

My daughter and my husband like to catch snakes. I have seen it many times. It most often involves a long stick or pole for pinning the animal’s head to the ground so they can carefully move in to grasp it and avoid a bite.

My sin nature that lies beneath looks a lot like that writhing snake body resisting capture, resisting being held, resisting being beheld. I am liable to bite. As a redeemed creation, how can that be? Perhaps because if I am fully seen, fully known, there is no hiding the ugly, slithering side of self.

Paul says something along those lines in 1 Corinthians 13. We have dim, not fully developed view of ourselves. Seeing Him face to face will reveal full knowledge. And “then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

I am already fully known despite my resistance, my lack of ability to trust His all-knowing love, His grace. I am already beheld and He has not turned away. And there that verse is smack in the middle of yes, love. It is the love chapter that soars with descriptions that most certainly look unattainable. Does any one really love without envy or arrogance or irritability or resentfulness? Does anyone really endure all things?

I do not.

This forces me to that dim mirror and to the killing of self. The hard and painful ache of change.

Reading through that entire chapter, I find joy in verse 9. “For we know in part and prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”

WHEN THE PERFECT COMES.

I could stop there and look fully, contentedly.

The answer is yes. It has to be. Yes, someone really loves without envy or arrogance or irritability or resentfulness. Someone has endured it all. That would be Him—the Perfect.

He has come and in His coming there was a treacherous battle. It was on a cross and the writhing, slithering snake of self was destroyed.

It wasn’t me that was killed. It was Him.

This makes my painful change not so painful anymore.

It makes learning to be beheld possible. It makes my resistance futile.

I am able to move back to peace and calm before God. I am able to behold Him who is perfect love. I am able to trust His gaze and the change it brings.