I spent an hour in our car this afternoon having a very loud and emotional discussion (fight) with my 15-year-old daughter just sitting in our driveway. Such discussions are all too common between us these days. She was telling me that she’s tired of getting in trouble every single day, and that she’s really a good kid. I was telling her that I’m tired of her talking to me disrespectfully.
When I step back and look at her as a whole, she really is a good kid. She gets great grades, is very involved in our church high school program, and has a good head on her shoulders. She has good moral fiber, is very honest, and hates when her friends get involved with yucky guys.
So what’s my beef, then? Why aren’t I on my knees thanking God for this good kid? I often do. But just as often, I ask for wisdom and strength in dealing with her. She’s very intense and very in-your-face. She’s got attitude with a capital “A”. She often talks at me and not to me–loudly. If she’s passionate about something, or angry about something, and I disagree, I’m suddenly in the firing line. And of course, this usually happens in the car, when there’s no possibility of escape. For her, it’s an advantage–there I am, completely at her disposal. And, no matter how I react, it’s usually wrong in her eyes.
Last night, I was driving her home from her softball practice. She was fit to be tied about some of the things that are happening with her team. She began to vent, and I settled in, mentally preparing myself. The two of us stopped for a quick dinner, because she was going straight to Tuesday night church. She continued to vent. We got back in the car, and she continued to vent. Nearly an hour later, I finally said, “OK, I’ve given you almost an hour to vent. Enough. Let’s talk about something else.” She retorted, “Fine, then, I just won’t talk to you at all from now on.” (Only seconds before, I had been congratulating myself on being patient enough to listen to her for that long.)
I now understand why God commanded us to “honor our father and mother.” He was trying to give parents a leg up. He knew that it was the toughest job on earth. He even threw in an incentive–the only incentive in all of the ten commandments–“that your days may be long on this earth.” He knows that rearing God-fearing kids is thankless, frustrating and exhausting. It’s the only occupation on earth where you can try your best, and somehow, end up at your worst. I do that a lot. I’ll walk away from a discussion (fight) with my daughter and think, “How the heck did she manage to pull that ugly, black, stinky, slimy stuff out of me? Why can’t I just have some SELF CONTROL!!”
As parents, we all need grace upon grace. And forgiveness. Heaps of forgiveness, especially from ourselves, to ourselves. And we need to remember that this, too, shall pass. All too quickly.
I was talking to my best friend a few months ago about this same topic. We’ve been best friends since the 10th grade–the exact same age that my daughter is now. I said, “I know I’ve always had a really strong personality, but I was never this challenging.”
“Yeah, actually, you were,” she said.
“No way,” I countered. “Seriously?”
“Yeah, you were really cocky.”
I was quiet a few moments considering such a thought. “Why did you put up with me, then?”
“Because I loved you,” she answered quietly.
Those four words knocked me into the back seat. Because I loved you.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
In this verse, the word “covers” is “kalupto” in Greek, and it means “to wrap around, as bark, skin, shell or plaster; to cover up.” My friend’s love wrapped around my sins, and covered them up. I love the fact that love doesn’t just cover, it “wraps around.” Like arms…of a mother around her daughter.
Jesus’ love for us does the same, it wraps around us. Surely I can do the same for my daughter, who is…a lot like me.