Control, Care, and Christ: Teenage Edition

When my oldest two children were beginning to eat solid food, I was that momma who ground her own brown rice and millet to make rice cereal. I pureed fruits and vegetables that I honestly would not want to eat myself. I was never going to raise picky eaters.

My facade of food control was quickly shattered. For a good solid three or four years, my kids survived on Dino Nuggets, quesadillas, and various pastas with butter.

I would like to say that this was the watershed moment of me releasing the idol of control in regards to my children. Alas, I cannot. At nearly every new season or stage of parenting, my attempts to grab on even to the illusion of control come back with a vengeance.

Care & Control

The more we care about someone, the more we tend to want to control outcomes for them. And there are few people I love on earth more than the children God entrusted to me.

When our children were younger, it was easier to feel like we were in control. I picked out their clothes, arranged their playdates, and curated their learning experiences. As they have grown older and more mature, there are no more illusions of control. They have their own tastes of clothes (which changes quicker than the weather in South Carolina). They are making their own choices of friends. They make and remake plans with said friends every other minute.

Their feet, their hair, and their worlds are becoming larger. There are great joys that come with this enlarging world, but there are also accompanying risks. I have had multiple mentors tell me, “Small children, small problem. Big children, bigger problems.” At first I did not like this advice, but I am beginning to understand the bits of wisdom it contains.

Care and control have become buzzwords on my daily walks with my husband as we continue to walk through the teenage years alongside our older boys. My deep, motherly care for my boys has only grown while my ability to pretend control over their lives has shrunk. This tension between care and control presses us back to the only One who holds perfect care and total control simultaneously.

The Care-full Controller of All Things

While on the earth, Christ continually taught his disciples about the constant, attentive, intimate care of God. Into a culture that, out of respect for God, would not even write his name, he brought the image of God as “our father” (Matthew 6:9). He pointed out flora and fauna, explaining God’s delighted, detailed care for even them (Matthew 6:26-30). He assured them they were more precious than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). He was aware of and attuned to even the slightest touch of his garment (Mark 5: 24-34). Christ was always full of care.

Yet, he simultaneously revealed God as the One in control of all things. He knew the thoughts and words of his disciples and even strangers like the woman at the well (John 1:43-51; John 4). He went toe to toe with the rulers of the time and was absolutely clear that he was in the one making the choices (John 18:28-38). Most significantly, he showed us that God controlled even death itself in his resurrection (John 20).

I find myself walking multiple times a day in this season (and not to reach my steps). As I walk, I wrestle my worried, helpless heart into the presence of the God of all care and control. Things I have claimed and believed for myself I am learning to claim and believe again over their lives.

I daily set my overwhelming, sometimes paralyzing love for my boys on the scale of his love for them to remind myself that his love far outweighs mine forever. And then, I remind myself that this God who cares for them is ordering all things for their good (Romans 8:28-32). He has an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure (2 Samuel 23:5). He is the blessed and only sovereign who is both immortal and unapproachably full of light (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

In view of the care-full controller of all things, I am freed to care for these boys. When they get cut from the team or don’t get invited to the gathering, when they are laughed out for living for Christ, when their hearts ache with loneliness or disappointment, I can place them in the hands of the One who is faithful in all his word and kind in all his works (Psalm 145:13; 17). By day, he commands his steadfast love on their behalf, and at night, he sings his song of deliverance over them (Psalm 42:8).

These are not new truths, but they are meeting me in new ways in this new season as a mother of teenagers.

2 thoughts on “Control, Care, and Christ: Teenage Edition

  1. Michele Morin

    How well I remember the teen years. I didn’t realize then that they were a training ground for the dance of parenting adults. May you sense God’s guidance as you learn to respect new boundaries and release the closeness we have loved so much.

    Reply

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