When our son Ian was 12 years old, he woke up one day with an incredible realization that he knew so much more about life than his parents! Almost overnight, Ian was transformed from a child who adored his parents to an adolescent who believed he had life all figured out. The years that followed were extremely difficult. We often wondered: is this simply a phase of teenage rebellion? Is this ADHD? Is this the sinful nature rearing its ugly head? All of the above?
Those of you who raised teenaged children (while midlifing at the same time) can identify with all the insanity that transpires at this stage of family life. I asked for advice from older parents in our church, and all of them just smiled at me and said the same thing: “Lilipas din ‘yan.” (That [stage] would soon pass.) Hardly comforted, I responded, “Yes, I know this would pass. But what do I do now?”
Well, Ian turns 23 today (July 31st) and I declare that, by the grace of God, he is an altogether different person. I would say that he is one of the best friends we have in the world. He is respectful and responsible. He loves the Lord and is helping other youth in our church to love the Lord as well. He works hard and is striving to excel in his workplace. He is willing to be accountable to others for his decisions. We admire the wisdom that God continues to give him. And, of course, we love the fact that now, he is convinced that his parents were not so dumb after all!
Parenting is a God-sized assignment. To fulfill this assignment, we need to learn how our heavenly Father parents us and follow his example. He teaches us, he disciplines us, he guides us; but in all things, he loves us unconditionally. And it is this unconditional love that transforms us, sanctifies us and motivates us to do his will.
Dahl and I did our part in praying for Ian, teaching God’s Word to him, counseling him, and pointing him to Christian friends and mentors. However, it was learning to dispense God’s unconditional love that helped us to survive those turbulent adolescent years. And when Ian became secure of our unconditional love for him in spite of the many unlovable things he did and said, the insanity slowly dissipated.
We do not claim any glory for the godly person that Ian is becoming. We ourselves had too many parenting miscues. We give all the glory to God. We were only able to love Ian with God’s transforming love because “God loved us first” (1 John 4:19),
Happy birthday, Ian. We love you. God’s grace has been amazing, right?