Saturday, August 21, 2010
“To everything there is a season…” –Eccl. 3:1
I learned an important lesson again this past week: nothing is for sure except for God. That has important implications for parenting. We do our best to provide for our kids and to create the stability and predictability we think they need. But what they also need from us as parents is to share our struggles as we flow with life’s seasons.
I had lunch with a friend this week who shared about his struggles this past year. He is a dad to a couple of kids and has been vulnerable with them about how the Lord has used the trials to bring him closer to His Lord. They have seen his tears and heard his prayers. He is a great dad.
I too was vulnerable with Elizabeth and Eric, my young adult kids, this week. It felt a little awkward, but I called them into the living room and shared with them some pretty huge trials I’d been experiencing. They were awesome and encouraging and hopefully they saw that, with all my work to have it all together, life is hard and only complete in the Lord.
Sure, we need to be solid for our kids. But we also need to be real with our kids. They need to see the ups and the downs. Why? Because they’ll be having ups and downs in their lifetime too. They don't need all the gory details of our journey, but when we become vulnerable and open, our teens are able to relate and learn from us that trials are okay.
Check out the attached picture of Carrolton, Arkansas. It’s now a blink on Hwy. 412, between Alpena and Fayetteville. How many people do you count in the picture? How many buildings? How many streets? I took this picture a few weeks ago. I read on the Internet that in the 1850’s, Carrolton had a population of 10,000 people with 6 hotels and 3 livery stables in the town square. It was an important stopping point through the Ozarks on the Carrolton-Forsyth-Springfield highway.
The picture I took is of that very town square today. There is nothing there. Today, there are barely 30 residents in the whole area. No one is exactly sure why. Maybe it was the civil war battle fought there where both sides burned the town. Maybe it was Harrison taking over as the big town in northern Arkansas.
If you’d have asked anyone in that town in 1860 whether it would be around in 100 years, I’m sure they’d have answered, “Well, I don't see why not?” But the truth is, things change. Towns have seasons. Businesses have seasons. Life is all about seasons. What is thriving one minute is gone the next.
A sweet lady at the nursing home once told me, “Honey, I’m just doing my best to flow with seasons.” I think that’s what Paul meant when he said he was “content in whatever circumstances he was in.” Contentment is taught and learned and the more our kids see us travail through the hills and valleys of life, the more they come to understand that struggle is okay.
The irony is that meekness does not equal weakness. In reality it’s just the opposite. The strongest people I know are the most vulnerable and real. They are strong enough to be humble and contrite.
Be strong in the Lord with your kids but also be broken with your kids. It’s a powerful parenting combination and paints a beautiful picture of life for your teens.
Whether you are passing through Carrolton or not.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©