But these cuts I have they need love to help them heal
Don’t let the sun go down on me
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” Elton John
I can’t do this.
Yes, you can.
I can’t do this.
Yes, you can.
I coach myself as I ascend the stairs for the five-thousandth time. Some emotion, overlapping despair on one side and futility on the other like the wrong kind of Venn diagram, squeezes my cramping stomach muscles. Each step has me see-sawing between continuing and giving up.
So what has stretched me to the breaking point, you may wonder. Well, it’s not life or death. It’s not any infirmity on my part. I’m not plucking the leaves off a trampled daisy as I go, and It’s not faulty engineering or rickety stairs. If only!
But it is beyond trying to get my teen out of bed in the morning.
There are mornings when I have to climb three times to guarantee they are sitting up or getting dressed, that they’re not on their phone or reclosing their eyes (if they even opened them in the first place).
Like so much of life with teens, it requires patience and perseverance—not just in the big things but the little. And it’s amazing how the little issues can break me in unexpected ways.
As I’ve grown and matured in my faith and knowing who I am in Christ, however, I’ve learned to catch myself. To stop and think about the burdens, frustrations, and all kinds of baggage I carry as I approach them.
It’s heavy. Some of the things you must carry as a parent for years. You may always carry them. Even some things that predate their existence.
But when I approach them and react with anger, impatience, or futility, I’ve already given up. I’ve momentarily lost my hope—Jesus—and the perspective of the Spirit.
God values them. He values and valued all of us enough to humble himself and live on the earth as a vulnerable man. Not considering his equality with God something to be grasped or wielded like a weapon but obedient to the Father in all things. He died for us, proved he had conquered death three days later; then to top it all off, he returned to teach, fellowship with, and bless those who had abandoned Him at his time of most need.
Jesus is our ultimate example of showing love through perseverance.
And because I’ve placed my faith in His good work of redemption, I’m reconciled forever with God and given God’s Spirit to live within me. Now I’m a new being…
…capable of stopping, remembering who I am, remembering who they are, dropping my baggage, and ready to weigh my options. Saying a prayer at this point might be a good idea, too.
What are my options? I can continue in anger and shout at them, scaring them with the sudden wave of my fury. It gets them out of bed, but it also causes tears on their part and regrets on mine. It doesn’t feel right because it isn’t.
I can turn around and let them face the consequences of not getting up—failure to get to work, school, or a beloved activity on time and realizing what that may mean. Well, I’m not going to choose that option this time because school and work, in particular, are just too important in my opinion. There may come a time for this, but not today…for us.
Lastly, I can continue up the stairs and, once again and matter-of-factly, remind them of the importance of keeping a job or getting to school on time. Then I can make sure they’re sitting up when I exit and tell them of my limitations, like my need to soon leave for my job. I can communicate in a reasonable voice and treat them with the dignity every being deserves…even when we don’t deserve it.
First weighing things like a learning disability or other chronic issue that may contribute to their sleeping schedule being off. Then maybe, just maybe, I will need to be intentional and sit down with them at a later time to let them know how hard this behavior (or whatever the behavior) has been for me. That at times, I’m at my breaking point, and I need them to try harder. That I don’t expect perfection but improvement, and I may soon need to try Option 2 because Options 1 and 3 are not working.
But in everything, treating them with the respect I would wish in their place. Remember how I wrote about thinking back to your teen years in the last blog? This is why. Because without hope, we don’t have the patience, the perseverance to keep going up those metaphorical stairs—in the inconveniences or the crises.
Dear Parent of Teens, don’t give up. “Don’t let the sun go down” on your teen.
Tell them you love them by climbing on…because “they need love to help them heal,” and it may not always feel like it, but perseverance is love.
If you want to read further thoughts on the importance I place on perseverance in our lives, here’s another post I’ve written on the subject.