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TeensPracticing Deity Without a License
By Cheri Hardaway © 2005

Iím a mover and a shaker. I can get the job done! You know the type Ė competent, educated, independent. (Not to be confused with pushy, headstrong and proud.)

I donít need anyoneís help; Iíve got it. Just give me the assignment. Iíve got a plan. Youíll see. Just sit back and watch.

At least thatís what I told God when all this parenting stuff started. I mean, I read "The Strong-Willed Child," "Children are Wet Cement," and "The Five Love Languages of Children." I attended our churchís Sunday School class on parenting, taught by a Christian pediatrician. For heavenís sake, what more could there be to learn? I knew all the important stuff, according to Dr. Spock, like there should be no more bottles after twelve months, and potty training should be completed by the time the child is two years old Ė stuff like that.

With four kids, I knew it was inevitable; there would be some testing of the parenting process. But I also knew it would be okay Ė after all, I was on the job!

The first tests were not too terrible. One child refused to potty train until three years and four months of age. In spite of all Dr. Spockís helpful suggestions, this same little tyrant would eat nothing green Ė no, sir! No vegetables! (I probably should have reread "The Strong-Willed Child" Ė but thatís another story.)

It was not surprising that the tests got more difficult as the children grew older Ė more like final exams, actually Ė but I was still confident that I could get the job done. I had a plan!

We were almost sixteen years into this parenting thing when the plan began to unravel, and we were eighteen years in when everything hit the fan. You see, our oldest son was interested in a young woman Ė too young, mind you. I patiently explained to him that he needed to go to college first; he could pursue this relationship after he got his degree. After all, that was the plan.

Though hard to believe, the boy had a different plan. The tension became so bad that he left home right before his high school graduation, marrying his young sweetheart some months after that. He was pursuing his own plan and he didnít need any help. He had it, and he was going to prove it. Iíd set an example, and he had learned well. Now it was time for me to do some learning.

I had six long years of opportunity to do that while our son was living far away, basically estranged from the family. Though we had some contact, for all practical purposes there was no real relationship between us. My prayer times became a classroom as the Spirit of God gently molded my know-it-all attitude into a teachable spirit.

The first thing God did was ask me to trust Him.

"God," I whined, "why did this happen? We did everything we knew to do to raise this young man right. Why didnít it work?"

"Who said it didnít work? Youíve done your part. Now let Me do Mine."

Then He added, "My child? Iím a mover and a shaker. Iíll get the job done. I donít need your help. Just watch and pray. Trust Me.

The next thing God honed in on was self-sufficiency.

"God, if heíd just listenó"

"Beloved, are you fretting? I told you I was on the job. Do you not think I can reach your son? My arm is not short. You do not have to do everything yourself. You are still not trusting Me as you should."

"God, I was taught that You help those that help themselves."

"You were misled, Beloved. That is not in My Word."

"Itís not?"

"Nope, not in there. Self-sufficiency is a form of pride; therefore, it is sin.

"Wow! I have some thinking to do."

"Yes, My child."

Between "classes," my emotions kept me company Ė and bad company does indeed corrupt good morals. Feeling unappreciated and rejected, I readily shared my hurt and pain with others. In his leaving, our son had exercised his God-given free will, breaking hearts in his wake; but my own free-will sharing was no less hurtful, as it caused others to see him through my offended eyes. This behavior nurtured a bitter and unforgiving spirit and became the subject of another prayer time.

"Are you ready to forgive your son?"

"Godó "

"Let Me rephrase: You must forgive your son if you want to grow spiritually."

"But he hurt us all terribly."

"Yes, but he is hurting too. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Forgiveness is not about feelings; it is a choice, a decision. Feelings follow actions."

"I donít know if I can..."

"You can do all things through My Son, Beloved. I have taught you to pray Ė you are to ask for My forgiveness as you forgive others. If you cannot forgive, how can I?"

Over the years, He taught me many things. I learned that He gives us the forgiveness and the love we need. Anything He asks us to give to others, He Himself first gives to us.

I had tried to impress Him with my Christian life Ė how well my kids looked, how much I did at church, how I performed. He taught me instead about unconditional love, a love which is freely given and cannot be earned.

Through these years of struggle, I also prayed Ė and I learned that He always answers prayer, even if I donít always recognize the answers. I cannot trust my own understanding, but must look through eyes of faith, as He is all the while effectually at work in all of His children both to will and do His good pleasure.

The outcome wasnít exactly as I had it pictured, and I suspect that it wasnít exactly as our son had pictured it either. It was better.

Last Sunday we attended church with my son and his wife. They are back Ė in our hearts and in our hometown. Relationships are being restored. They called this morning to let us know that our first grandchild, due in seven months, is in fact twins! A double blessing.

"God, You charged me with identity theft and practicing deity without a license. I stand before You guilty as charged. And I stand before You forgiven. Today I am a recovering mover and shaker. I no longer believe I have all the answers, and I have discarded my plan. There is a job to do, but it is Yours. Your will, not mine, be done. You are God. I am not."
Cheri Hardaway has always loved to read and began pursuing an interest in writing just this year. It is her desire to share Godís heart and His hope with others through her writing. She is married to Wayne, and together they have four wonderful children. The oldest is married, and the couple is expecting twins next spring! You may contact Cheri through the Letters page of this magazine.
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