This is how Gary Thomas describes the hurt that parents experience while watching their children hurt. My Mom's Life Group is reading his book "Sacred Parenting". Two chapters in, and I am already feeling challenged.
"To what do you most aspire for your children - comfort or character? Almost on a daily basis, we have to choose between the two, as they inevitably come into conflict. Sacred parenting matures the parent by inviting us to choose service and character for our children over pain-free living."
"Aching hearts and disappointed souls are essential experiences on the path toward maturity. If we protect our children from all possible risk, challenge, and possible rejection, they likely will become developmentally stunted and will therefore remain immature. Out of love for our children, we must become strong enough spiritually to watch them hurt, to see them become disappointed, to hear their cries. Otherwise, we risk raising safe and compliant kids with an empty core. In this area, our own immaturity and spiritual weakness can handicap our children."
"If they never appreciate this emptiness [their need for God], they will never appreciate God's remedy."
"Yes it hurts us when our kids hurt, but it devastates our kids' eternal perspective far more when we hide their need for a Savior. Our hardest hurt may actually be their most important hurt. What a tragic loss if the hurt we spare ourselves is bought at the price of our children's salvation...This means accepting a very difficult but very important truth: Ultimately God's Kingdom far outweighs in significance the personal comfort of my children. As much as I adore my children, as crazy as I feel about them, I betray them if I put their happiness and comfort over God's overall purpose in their lives and in our world."
Thomas also address how seriously parents in the U.S. continue to pursue the grand quest of giving their child every advantage, yet we consume about 90 percent of the world's Ritalin. He asks "Is what we call 'better' (kids having their own rooms, affluent lifestyles, and busy schedules) really better?"
All this is really challenging, and frankly, a bit frightening as I think about what it will be like to watch Malia and Josie go through friendships where they are rejected, treated unfairly by people around them, and when they fail to thrive in some certain area. I know I will just want to take away their pain. But I pray that God will help me to not just blame it on something or someone, but help them deal with it in a way that acknowledges their need for God. It's also a bit freeing to hear in a society where there are pressures on parents to do just the right thing, in order to not "wound" our children. Yes, I will hurt my children at times, but they need to know that I am not the one who will love the perfectly. As much as I do love them, there is only One who will fully meet their needs.
So that's what I've been challenged by lately.