“But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” Matthew 23:3
I got an email the other day from a dear friend asking my advice. Her son wanted to sleep over a friend’s house. She wasn’t ready for that yet, so she said no. In his extreme disappointment, he blew up. She has invested so much in her son, advocating for him, building a strong relationship with him. His response left her heartbroken and bewildered. She asked me to shift her perspective: to help her see it all differently, objectively, and through the lens of faith.
I was touched to be asked. I immediately responded and shared my experience with my own son’s growths spurts and growing pains trying to childproof his life. I told her that from my objective viewpoint, it seemed that her son wanted more freedom and independence while she was trying to protect and shield him from the pitfalls she had outlined. Because safety wasn’t among them, I advised that she give him more freedom. I thought her son wanted her to trust him, believe in him, have faith in him. Even if he did experience every pitfall she imagined, the impact of her trusting him would far outweigh any failure he might experience.
What I didn’t tell her is that I am in the exact same boat. I, however, was fortunate enough to dodge the bullet. My eleven-year-old Zack was invited to an overnight birthday party up north at his friend’s lake house, complete with tubing, fishing, and smores. I had anxiety from the moment the dad first mentioned the party back in June.
I shelter my kids a lot. We have yet to venture into the realm of sleepovers with friends, never mind an overnight at a cottage an hour from here, on a lake, involving a boat! I was thrilled when I received the email invite with a date that coincided with our family vacation in Maine. With glee, I quickly emailed, “Oh bummer!!! Unfortunately, Zack will not be able to make it.”
Well, imagine my surprise when just two hours after advising my friend that she should give her son more freedom, I got a paper invitation in the mail. The lake house birthday party was rescheduled to a weekend when we weren’t going to be away! Oh how I wanted to make excuses and decline the invitation. My friend would never know of my hypocrisy if I didn’t tell her. But how could I possibly look myself in the mirror if I don’t practice what I preach?
The real truth is, I have to mature in my role as a mother. I have to let go some more, not just to avoid being hypocritical, but because it is time. Zack is ready for this, even if I’m not. Like I told my friend, Zack needs me to trust him, believe in him, have faith in him, just like God trusts me to raise Zack. Therefore, Zack will be going to the party.
That being said, you can be sure that I will be lecturing him for days leading up to the overnight about safety and right choices. Moreover, I will be praying every second of the 23 hours of that party. But you can also be sure that God will be watching over the both of us, blessing this new milestone, as I practice what I preach.
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