Going Your Own Way

We often wonder as kids that,  if I’m obedient to my parents, if I actually do what they tell me to do – if I take their advice, am I really leading my own life? Am I making my own decisions? And it’s a hard question. And ultimately we rebel because we want to be able to show that we can do our own thing. We believe that doing our own thing means just doing everything the hard way.

Tragically though, when we get through it we find that our parents were right. We didn’t realize that our parents had already gone through those same things. They tried to tell us, but we didn’t want to hear it because we needed to carve our own way. And we rejected those things that we knew to be true. Because we just needed to test them ourselves, we needed to find out. And we went through those hardships; we made the wrong decisions; we did the things that seemed right or were at least in opposition to what we’d been told in order to find out if what we were taught was true.

We ultimately come to find that “yep”, those things were true, and I made the wrong choices.

And then we become parents, we look at our kids. And now, knowing what we went through, we love them so much we desperately desire for them not to go through the same pains and hardships that we endured unnecessarily.  Because we love them we try so hard to convince them not to make the same mistakes!

But they must. It is set in their hearts to test and to live and to experience life on their own terms. And the most painful part of that is: that they listen to everyone else except you. They listen to their feelings; they listen to the random thoughts in their heads that tell them what’s right and what’s wrong, without really hearing the truth.

They close their eyes to what they know to be true, so that they can live their lives according to their feelings. But their feelings aren’t true to them – those feelings betray them. The emotions are real, but the emotions come from the thoughts that we project on ourselves. And those thoughts are very frequently not even our own.

Whether they are corrupted through other forces, or through influence of other corrupted minds, we tend to believe those thoughts. And as we hear them over and over in our heads, we tend to believe them as true regardless of any merit they have, indeed we will repeat the mantra of lies until it starts sounding like the truth. Eventually we will start feeling and living our lives according to those thoughts. Those thoughts can take us very far away from where we belong, and are the very things that lead us down a dark and sometimes painful road.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. — Proverbs 16:25

It is our greatest prayer, as parents, that our children return to us. That they return to the truth so that they can be restored and have a fruitful life. For those that believe in God — who hold Jesus as their savior —understand these truths, and desire even more for these things. Yet even those who don’t know Jesus in that way, they still want the best for their kids and still think the same way in knowing what they themselves went through and hoping their kids don’t go through that as well. We all want better for our children than we had. We want our children to be fruitful in their lives, especially if we, as parents, don’t believe that we were.

We made mistakes, we had failures, we had shortcomings. And we look back and we had this tremendous sin in our lives that maybe carried through into our families. And the pain of those mistakes becomes regret that shapes the way we try to under- or over-correct our kids.  And that under- or over-training can ultimately lead to rebellion or insecurity in the very ones we are trying to lead and protect. The very things that we’re trying to accomplish as parents are undermined by motives that are not pure.

The intentions are good but the motives are not. We’re trying to compensate for our failures as human beings, as sinful men and women living in a fallen world, broken by a curse that is millenia old. But our actions can’t undo that, and our intentions can’t change it. Only the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can.  And it’s only through him, accepting that through him we have eternal life, and have hope in something beyond the now: that no matter what we’ve done, we can come home. Through faith and repentance, we can always come home. And we will most assuredly be accepted when we choose to do so.

However (and this is the scariest part), the fear as parents is that our kids will not come home. That they will walk away (or run away), never to return. Because of their choices, because of their twisted thoughts and the terrible influence the world has over them, they may find it impossible to return to the truth. They may find it impossible to turn around. One day they may get so low, so broken, that they think “I can’t go back.” Their pride will prevent them from saying I’m sorry. Their pride will prevent them from making a u-turn and admitting they were wrong. Not that the parents were right, but that as kids we are wrong.

As children, we don’t see the big picture. We only know our own little universe that is so, so small. That little universe is so tiny and so blinding that we can’t see beyond ourselves. Everything within it appears to be truth, and so we work to keep everything else out.

I know that this isn’t entirely true for everyone. It may not even be partially true for anyone. But on average, most can relate with either their own rebellion or that of their kids. Some have returned, and some are estranged. Some of us have come home, some of us remain alone.

But through it all I am continually reminded that I was and am that child. I walked away and set out to do my own thing in my own way. It took a long time, but I eventually turned around and went home. And before I even got near the old neighborhood, Dad came running down the road to greet me, before I even had a chance to say I was sorry.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. — Luke 15:20