One thing I’m learning while I raise a teenager (because isn’t that how we learn? By doing?), is that what you get out of something is definitely directly proportional to what you have already put into it.
In other words if we had not invested, i.e., “filled the tank” in our son when he was younger…
by spending time with him,
by listening to him,
by taking the time to instruct & have the courage to discipline him,
by enjoying the simple things in life,
by going to church with him,
by living out our family values,
by spending time together with trusted and treasured family, elders, and friends,
by driving all those miles and miles to practices, Boy Scouts, and lessons of every kind,
by spending hours investing in time and activities with his friends,
by planning countless family vacations,
by giving up a million “couples’ night” and “marriage dates” and going to Disney or Dollywood or Jump Jam AGAIN,
and by suffering through hours of tortuous homework and daily chores and struggles…
…then we would not have earned the right to have his attention, time, and respect now that he is a teenager.
And it gets harder.
It becomes harder and harder to get to spend time with him as he grows older. He’s looking for and relishing opportunities to grow up and test his wings… to get out there and spend time with his friends, play on sports teams, ride in cars with other teens, workout, explore and do and try new things out from under our shadow and constant watchful eyes.
The opportunities to invest and “fill the tank” become much more few and far between.
And I worry more…
…About the things he’s hearing, seeing, and trying out from under my loving, protective gaze… About the risks he’s taking that I don’t even know about… About the hurt he’s suffering at the mercy of others and/or his own perceived failures. …
And I am realizing more and more every day how much I haven’t taught him… how did I waste all those years we had together that are now behind us? And how did there come to be so few left ahead?
And I worry about nagging him too much, embarrassing him in front of his friends, expecting too much from him, not trusting him enough, trusting him too much, missing something, seeing something, driving him away…
And I’m wondering what I can do to protect and hold onto him, from a distance…
And I’m wondering, how do I let him go?
And I spend lots of tears realizing he is slowly, yet ever faster, releasing himself from my tight grip….
Until I decide to hold onto the belief that “if you love him, set him free….”, and live in the hope that he’ll never stray far, and that he’ll always know he has a place to come home… and that he will…
And then I am reminded, once and for all, to trust… trust the One who will always have him in HIS grip…
…and give thanks for all the precious moments I’ve been gifted with him… because he was never actually “mine” from the beginning.