When I left the nest, it was probably a different experience than most as I ended up trekking to Army basic training. Nonetheless, the thoughts and emotions were likely very similar. For college-bound, military-bound, or job-seeking teenagers turned adults, getting ready to strike out on their own in this big world of ours, the excitement is undeniable. Their future is wide open, their dreams are at their fingertips, and the fear of the unknown underlies it all.
For parents, it can be a scary time. We watch our kids grow up, protect them from the world and teach them what we believe is right. We answer their difficult questions about life and God to the best of our abilities and pray that somehow, our lessons taught and love imparted will stick with them. We have traveled the road they are about to take and we know it is bumpy.
Whether it be college, the military, or the workforce, as our kids step out into the world, they step away from the familiar and into uncharted territory. Their minds are stretched. They meet people with different world views and different life experiences. They are challenged, pressured, and introduced to new things – some good, some bad. They will be asked to make decisions and the ramifications of their choices will be on them. They will screw it up sometimes, as we all do and we all know, and they will grow from their mistakes – painful as it may be.
The nagging fear in a Christian parent’s mind is always, “Will my children stay close to God?” We know what’s out there and we can get scared about the devil’s schemes and attacks against our children.
When I left home, I was faced with incredibly difficult questions about God.
“How can a good God let His people suffer?”
“Didn’t God create sin in the first place if He created Satan?”
“How can you believe in a God who would let innocent people suffer and die?”
“If God really was God, He could step in and stop all of the evil, so why doesn’t He?”
And a whole bunch of false theologies were thrown around that I even succumbed to at points in my life.
“There is more than one way to heaven.”
“As long as we do our best and love each other, the supreme being of the Universe will…”
“Do this, do that, and you will…”
The ridiculous lies that Satan feeds us through the misinformed and narrow minded opinions of people who aren’t God (including ourselves) is frightening and real. What can we do to help our children answer these questions? What can we do to help ourselves answer these questions?
In a world where there is no black and white defense of our faith, it is important to surround ourselves with the evidence of God that is based on our experiences with Him. We know God is real when we meet Him in our stories. And THAT is one of the reasons we started Shattered Magazine. You can’t prove that God exists. You can’t make people believe that He is good when all they’ve known is pain. You can’t make people believe or have faith.
But you can share your story.
A personal story is non-confrontational and yet oh-so-powerful. And we share personal stories in the hope of providing people with a different perspective on life. One where they see God and His goodness even in the most painful situations. A perspective that can shatter the chains that bind them to the misery in this world and set them free for a great purpose. We share stories of His glory.
We think your kids need these stories and will love the magazine! Nothing warms our hearts more than hearing feedback from parents who have watched their kids pick up and read Shattered. The kids are drawn to the magazine because it is beautiful, but they are engaged by the magazine because of the stories. As a result, families are having some tough and really good conversations about God. These conversations can help deal with underlying doubt before it becomes a weed choking out the faith and hope in our lives. And that is the power that stories for His glory have. Meeting people in their real lives with real hope for a real purpose.
God has said that He will be faithful to complete the good work that He started in us, and so, we cling to that promise and ground our faith in it as we watch them grow from afar. Our kids still need us when they get too old for us, they just need us in different ways. From my experience, I was the headstrong kid who didn’t really need or want my mom around me. I was ready to take off and fly out of the nest. But there were things that my mom did that I can really appreciate now looking back. Here are the top 5 things she did for me.
1. Pray. Don’t go a day without praying for your children.
2. Listen. Don’t offer advice until asked.
3. Give. Give your time. Send care packages and cards. Let them know they are missed. But don’t do it too much or they will feel smothered.
4. A job is a good thing, even part time. Let them be responsible for money aspects of their education or their life. They’ll appreciate what they are working for and what they receive so much more.
5. Love them well. Let them learn consequences for actions. It’s physics. For every action there is an opposite but equal reaction. Life is full of consequences, the younger they learn that, the better off they’ll be in choosing which consequences they want to have.
What are some ways you are hoping to encourage your children as they begin new chapters in their stories? New student, recruit, or employee, how are you preparing yourself for the challenges ahead? Tell us in the comments below!
[Image via Jim Fischer/Flickr]