The struggle with my son Vader has not lessened or ended. It changes as he searches for something he’ll never find: the quick fix. He’s looking for that one thing that will erase the past, make it right, remove the pain, return his dad to him. I’ve watched him jump from one thing to the next for almost 5 years. It’s a difficult and painful thing to watch your child experience, especially when the next quick fix is a failure.
Most of us know by now that there is no such thing — that healing takes time, work, and forgiveness, which can be an arduous task. In the meantime, he takes the pain, anger, and hatred out on his family. He is feared by so many of us because we’ve experienced his plunge into rage so deep and dark that it became disturbingly violent. So we choose to placate, tiptoe, and generally avoid his pissy moods as much as we can.
I set some new boundaries lately and called a family meeting to discuss them. I laid out some new rules for Vader about sleep patterns, reasonable bedtimes for a teen who has to be up at 5 am for school, and helping out around the house. My son, of course, had some choice words about all of it, and those included his hatred for God and his ‘decision’ to quit attending church with us. God was one of those things Vader thought would be a quick fix, but when that didn’t pan out he gave up and moved along.
One of the expectations I place on my children is that we all attend church together on Sunday. They aren’t required to speak to anyone, or participate in any other extra activities with the kids at the church unless they so choose. It’s family time, and I hope they will also discover by attending that they are loved and valued in God’s house — it’s a place they can always seek and find help.
So I shot down Vader’s decision about quitting church, which displeased him greatly.
My other kids were hurt and distressed over Vader’s disdain for God. They wanted to know why, but Vader has no answers he’s willing to share — mostly, I think, because he doesn’t really know why himself.
Later on, in our bedroom, Atticus and I were talking about what happened with Vader and the things he said. My husband gently suggested that I need to figure out the right time to quit. I’m not a quitter, and said as much. Then he explained that I need to find the place where I stop thinking I can do whatever Vader needs, or find whatever Vader is looking for, and quit so that God can take over.
It’s a monumental undertaking to attempt to stop
helping enabling my child in order to let God take over and be there for him.
Some people believe that when we’re heading in a bad direction in life that it’s God who will take us as low down as we can possibly go in order to bring us around to what is right. I don’t. I believe He allows us to continue choosing what we want, digging ourselves a deeper and deeper hole, until we realize we have nothing and see Him standing right there with us, ready and willing to help us climb out of whatever pit we’ve sunk into so completely. It’s that place where we really meet God — and it’s a situation of our own making, not God’s.
No parent wants to see negative things affecting their children, but I suppose Atticus was saying that I have to let Vader wallow in whatever muck he’s choosing until he sees that God is the One who is always there — the only One who will never fail him. Right now I don’t know that I can step back and let Vader fall on his own — not because I don’t trust God to be there, but because I’m afraid that stepping away would fail my son.
I have so much to think about.