May the God of peace… equip you with all that is good, that you may do His will. Hebrews 13:20-21
Zack had some friends over to play Dungeons and Dragons over the weekend. None of the kids he invited had ever played before, but Zack was soooo excited to teach them. With his expectations so high, I knew he would be crushed if the game didn’t go over well.
So the day before, and that morning, we talked endlessly about identifying the cues that told him whether his friends were appreciating the game or not, and being flexible enough to switch gears if they weren’t. I thought Zack was good to go.
Being thirteen, they wanted to take the game into the basement. I left the door open so I could listen with one ear. Unfortunately, unless I stood right at the top of the stairs, all I could hear were muffled voices. So I went about doing random tasks in the my kitchen. Unfortunately, when I heard those muffled voices escalating, I knew trouble was brewing.
I went over to the top of the stairs to see if I could hear more. With my heart in my throat, I kept praying over and over again for God to make the kids like Zack’s game. But it didn’t seem the prayer was working. The voices kept getting louder; and my mother’s heart kept pounding. That’s when I realized I was praying the wrong prayer.
I was asking God to control the situation, make it all work out perfectly for Zack. Life doesn’t work that way. And honestly, if it did, we’d be the worse for it. We’d have no coping skills whatsoever.
Instead, I prayed that God would equip me with whatever I needed to help Zack handle all that was transpiring in my basement, no matter how bad the fallout. As soon as I stumbled upon that prayer, my heart rate slowed, and a blanket of calm washed over me.
Suddenly, I heard Zack’s footsteps pounding up the stairs. I couldn’t move away fast enough. He blew right past me, and went straight up to his room. Immediately on his heels were his friends. The three of them came into the kitchen. One of them was ranting and raving that Zack had every right to be pissed. According to him, the other two kids had been “real jerks about the whole thing.”
I wasn’t in the basement; I don’t know all the details of what transpired. But kids will be kids: They can be good people and friends, and still do bad things. In this case, things didn’t seem so dire that I felt I needed to call out Zack’s friends. But things were dire enough that Zack needed help working through the resulting emotions.
Usually, I flounder my way through these situations. But that prayer I prayed at the top of the stairs had me confident and efficient. Without even having to think things through, I managed to say all the things Zack needed to hear. Despite him starting out by saying he wanted his friends to go home, he was back and hanging out with them in under five minutes. Best of all, the gathering ended on an extremely high note.
Adolescence is one big mess of hormones and conflict. I’m the first one to want my kids to coast through it smoothly. But if they don’t learn how to navigate all the potholes of life now, they’re going to be terrible and dangerous drivers later.
I need to remember this lesson always: It’s much better to pray to be equipped to handle the problems, than to perpetuate the pipe dream that life will be free and clear of them.
Questions For Reflection:
* Am I one to pray for a problem-free life for my child?
* Have I found that prayer to be successful?
* Instead, can I pray for God to equip me so I can help my child through whatever issues he/she faces?