The more I called them, the farther they went from me. Hosea 11:2
Every year, the amusement park near us has a Town Day. The rate is drastically reduced for us residents. We always go and stay together as a family until the park closes. It’s one of my favorite days of the summer!
Now having a teenager and a tweener, I knew the landscape was shifting. But I was tightly clutching onto the idea of spending this outing as a family, one last time. I wanted to satiate my craving for making fun, family memories together.
Sadly, I set myself and my family up for failure.
Twenty seconds after we passed through the gates, Mason asked if any of his friends were there. Of course there were half-a-dozen of them there; it was Town Day, after all. But being hyper-sensitive to anything or anyone that would separate us, I immediately pouted and declared we were having “family time!” I told him he could meet up with his friends “later.”
Mason must have asked about his friends three more times within the next hour. I finally blew my top and told him how hurtful he was being. I told him he was making the rest of us feel unwanted.
I knew it was incredibly immature of me, but I couldn’t help it. Rather than drawing clear boundaries and defining when he needed to be with us and when he could be with his friends, I lashed out at him, purposefully trying to guilt him into staying with us. What kids wants that?
In Hosea, Chapter 11, God describes Israel as a child. He talks about all the loving things He did raising them. Yet the more He called Israel to Him, the farther they went from Him. God himself felt just as hurt and rejected. In fact, in my Bible, that section is entitled, “The Disappointment of a Parent.”
The next section, however, is entitled: “But Love Is Stronger and Restores.” In it, God’s love for Israel overpowers His hurt and disappointment. He reestablishes the fact that He will love Israel always, and they will, in time, come back to Him.
At the amusement park, I had to go through the same process. After my anger and hurt flared, I flashed back to my own teenage years when friends were all that mattered. I had so much fun hanging out them! If I truly loved Mason, I’d want him to have that same joy, minus any guilt that his immature mother was pouting.
Like God, my love for Mason overpowered my hurt. We found his friends, and he and Zack went off with them. In retrospect, it wasn’t until then that any of us began to have any fun.
Hours later, at the appointed time, Mason and Zack came back to us happy and satisfied. Although there wasn’t all that much time left before the park closed, we were able to pack in enough quality time to fill my bucket.
Questions for Reflection:
* Are my kids in a phase where their friends matter more than family?
* If so, how am I adjusting to that?
* Can I follow God’s lead and let them go, confident that they’ll return?