Blonde hair and sparkling green-grey eyes. Dark curly hair and brown eyes so deep you cannot see the whole. Academic. Athletic. Hands that turn their work to gold. Champion of the underdog. Socially driven. Lover of justice. Master of conversation. Intuitive and tender.
Two brothers. Raised in the same home by the same parents with the same standards. Fed the same meals. Shared a bedroom. So very different.
As we watched our boys grow, we were often concerned about the areas in their lives where they seemed to not be maturing or they were struggling. It was easy to look at one and wonder why the other was having so much difficulty with something that seemed so easy. Years of heartaches and struggles were tempered by successes and grace. Little bit by little bit, our boys began to emerge as young men.
In the early days, we cried over how they got along – or more correctly, how they didn’t get along. We worried about our shortcomings as parents robbing them of their potential. We stressed about their weaknesses and agonized over their hurts. In the early days, we did a lot of work.
Now, in the older years, we shake our heads over how they get along – or sometimes don’t. We praise God that despite our shortcomings He provides and sustains their potential. We thank God that He works in their weaknesses to make them the men they need to be and we take them to God in prayer when we see them headed for hurts. In these older years, we spend a lot of time with God.
I had always heard that teenager was a lot of work. It was hard, it was frightening and it was stressful. We have five children. That is a long time to have teenagers in our home. Now that we’re here, though, I’ve realized something wonderful. Teenager is great! It is amazing! It is the fulfillment of God’s faithfulness. It is the next step in seeing our children become more like God.
Those early years were difficult for me. I spent so much time trying very hard to be the best mother I could be that I too often lost sight of God being the best God. PERIOD. I was exhausted and insecure and afraid. What I am learning now, with teenagers, is that God had it all along. God loves these boys (and our girls) even more than I could ever imagine. God asked me to do my best. The part that caused me anxiety was trying to do it without Him as my strength. Thinking that I was alone or forgetting that He was in control caused me more sleepless nights than anything my boys ever did.
Now that they are young adults, I am able to see how God has consistently worked in their lives. The hurts and foibles that were struggles when they were little have developed into some of the strongest elements of their character.
My husband and I were chatting the other day and reminiscing over the journey of bringing up boys. He said something that I really appreciated. “We’re not bringing up boys, we’re raising men.” They won’t always do what we want them to and there will be times when we will need to add wisdom to their plans but the goal of our part in their lives is to love them and train them to be men of God.
Now that they are older, we are finally starting to get it right. We are more and more often giving them over to God.
Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.