*Today’s post is from Tom, a wise dad with much wisdom to share.
Many strong believers marry and plan for a family. They have great anticipation of bundles of joy, and a marvelous journey from infants to young, thriving adults. They bathe the entire process in prayer, even before birth, asking God for wisdom to parent and a good life for their much-loved child.
But then, in their child’s pre-teen or early teen years, warning signs begin to emerge. It’s not that bad, they think, as they dismiss concerns for growing pains and adjusting to having more freedom. There may be a few minor bumps in the road, but many families experience these things and turn out fine.
Later, full blown rebellion, serious destructive behaviors and habits are in our face. Tensions, arguments, tempers and alienation increase. Who is this person? What happened to the wonderful child we delighted in and they in us?
Soon, guilt and shame set in, compounded by confusion and questions:
- What did we do wrong? What more should we have done in raising our child?
- How did these behaviors develop from all the love and care we invested in their upbringing?
These were the experiences and questions we had with our middle daughter. My wife and I never expected the types of behavior and drama we got from our efforts.
Was our parenting flawless and exceptionally executed? NO! But it was well intended. We incorporated the best practices we knew at the time. We consistently invested in learning from some of the best qualified Christian doctors and professionals of the day. Yet, the results were a mystery and the why left unanswered.
Then God showed me a scripture passage that fit much of our experience.
The Song of the Vineyard, Isaiah 5:1-5 NIV
“I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a wine press as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard…”
The song of the vineyard tells the story between God and Israel. God did everything right for his people in order to get good results. He did the work and had expectations of what would be produced. In spite of all his best efforts, the yield was totally unexpected and disappointing, to say the least.
Isaiah records the struggle: “Go ahead, judge my planting efforts. What more could I have done than what I have done for these people? Tell me why I got only bad fruit from my best efforts?”
Please hear me, mom or dad. We are not perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination. Neither are you. However, even the ONLY PERFECT PARENT, GOD, didn’t get what He expected!
You are not alone. God knows and understands your struggle, confusion and disappointment. He’s been there and still is. He knows what it’s like to pour out your best into the ones you love, but get heartache in return.
These are my 4 take-aways, “lessons fresh off the vine”:
- You’re not perfect. Confess whatever sins you need to confess and receive the forgiveness of Christ.
- Perfect parenting is no guarantee your kids will turn out right. Abandon guilt about parenting.
- There is far more at play here than your role in your child’s life. Drop the why Isaiah didn’t answer it and you probably can’t, either. Asking why is a time and energy sapper of precious resources you need to apply toward constructive action.
- God knows and understands parenting rebellious children. Stop withdrawing from Him because of your hurt and confusion. Instead, draw close to Him who knows you best and loves you most.
Father God, help me grasp these things and apply them where they’re needed in my life. I tried to do my best raising my child, but things didn’t turn out like I expected. I’ve felt just like this vineyard owner. Thank you that you understand. Help me draw near and hide myself in your love.
Two great books that help with why questions are:
When God Doesn’t Make Sense, Dr. James Dobson (you’ll find this one on our book list)
God Will Use This for Good, Max Lucado