Raising Teenagers is Heartbreaking at Times

I am utterly heartbroken tonight in the aftermath of a long-lasting argument with my sixteen year old son.  The problem I’m facing isn’t new, exactly.  For months now I’ve struggled to walk the thin line between letting go and holding on tightly – desiring to let my youngest child grow up, yet terrified that I’ll give him just enough slack to get himself into trouble.

Even talking to myself in my own thoughts, I can’t pin-point precisely why I battle with trusting him to make good decisions.  My reasoning could fill up an entire notepad – he’s just not in a good place right now, and I love him too much to let him slip away.

“I hate you!” It’s not the first time he’s said these words to me.  Perhaps it’s normal for 16-year-olds to throw around such hurtful language.  But tonight, the elaborations were deep – cutting me to my core.

How can someone that I love so much, hate me?  How can this child of mine be blind to all of the ways I show my love to him each and every day?  Does he not see my struggles – the wrinkle forming, health destroying, never-ending battles that I take on each and everyday just to keep a roof over his head and food in his belly?  Does he not know that I’m the one person on this earth that will stand by his side – I will forgive him, defend him, protect him and stand hand-in-hand with him even on his worst day – I’ll love him unconditionally and will never turn my back on him.  Does he not understand that I would literally die for him without even batting an eyelash?

“You’re ruining my life.  You give me no freedom.”  As I rolled those words off of my own tongue tonight while soaking in the bathtub in the midst of my pitiful tears, I saw my own life – ruined by no freedom.  I thought about how I’d love to just jump on an airplane and take a family vacation.  But I can’t because my husband’s disabilities make travel impossible now.  I thought about how I’d like to just wake up one day and stay in bed – skipping out on housework, meals, chores.  But that too isn’t an option for me anymore – I have to get up and dress Josh.  I have to feed him, help him to the bathroom, manage his medicines and watch him closely throughout every minute of every day, (and that’s not even considering the background tasks of mothering 2 children and trying to mustard up enough work to keep our bills paid).  I thought about how I’d love to just go out to eat and enjoy a nice dinner without wheelchairs and urination bottles and all the heavy lifting to help Josh in and out of the car.  What is freedom?  And, why don’t I have it right now?

In the stories of the bible, the Lord is referred to as the shepherd over the sheep.  I heard a sermon awhile back, explaining that a shepherd sometimes has to break the legs of a sheep to keep the sheep from harming themselves – like a lesson to teach the sheep not to wander off the path.  He then places the sheep on his shoulders and carries it until it’s leg is healed.

I didn’t break my son’s leg, obviously, but he certainly believes I’m causing him a great amount of damage in not allowing him to roam around town wherever he pleases to go.  I’m just trying to protect him from something that could hurt him badly.  And while he doesn’t see it like that, it’s the truth – love is why we protect our children from things that could cause them harm.

As I soaked in the tub, I repeated my thoughts out-loud, realizing the amazing connection between my relationship with my son and my relationship with God – my Heavenly Father.  Is my lack of freedom an act of saving me from something that could kill me?  This time that he’s given me has drawn me near to him, casting away the worldly desires that I no longer get to participate in.  But do I see it that way?  Or am I angry and bitter, muttering deep inside my thoughts, “you’re ruining my life.”

This pity party with myself ended abruptly when I focused on my son, realizing that the love I have for him isn’t even comparable to the love God has for me….

My child…  Do you not see that I keep a roof over your head and food in your belly tonight? (Mathew 6:26).  Do you not know that I’m the only one that will stand by your side – I will forgive you, defend you, protect you and stand hand-in-hand with you even on your worst day – I’ll love you unconditionally and will never turn my back on you, (Isaiah 53:5), (I John 4:8), (Deuteronomy 53:6), Do you not understand that I DID DIE FOR YOU, without even batting an eyelash? (Romans 5:8)

In thinking about how our children sometimes don’t appreciate what we do for them…  I wonder if this is how God feels when we lose sight of what he’s done for us……

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