“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the Spring of Living Water, and have dug their own cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13
Jocelyn is my most independent child, for sure. At just ten years of age, she tries to take on more than her fourteen and sixteen-year-old brothers combined. I want to foster that initiative and drive, but it’s a fine line. I can’t let her jump out of the nest altogether. Her wings aren’t strong enough to sustain her for the long haul.
Now, more than ever, I understand why God wants us to lean on Him.
As her parent, I know what Jocelyn is and isn’t capable of doing on her own. But if I point out what falls into the “not capable yet” category, she gets offended, and loses her motivations. I get it: None of us wants to be told we can’t do something.
I wonder how much of the need for independence is hard-wired into us, and how much is foisted upon us from society? We live in a world where succeeding on our own is the goal. Dependency of any kind is painted as a weakness, telling us we’re not strong enough, smart enough, tough enough. I succumb to that message myself, and most times end up regretting it, especially when I do something without God.
We were never meant to go it alone. God wants to partner with us in everything. Yet, almost immediately after He led the Israelites out of Egypt, they forsake Him, thinking they could do things better than the Creator Himself. We look back at them and shake our heads, clearly seeing their actions for the folly that they are.
Nevertheless, aren’t most of us guilty of the same thing? Despite God knowing what we need, and when, and wanting to provide it if we just ask, don’t we tend to go our own way, neglecting to include Him?
I see it so clearly in my daughter, as she strikes out on her own with things she has no clue about. And there I am, standing right beside her, longing to be asked for my help, my advice, my encouragement, and/or my involvement.
I know for a fact that one reason Jocelyn doesn’t ask me for help is because I’m a control freak. When asked to help, I am prone to take over. Fortunately for all of us, God isn’t. Otherwise, He never would have given us free will.
All He wants is to be included. We need to quit trying to dig our own cisterns when the Spring of Living Water is right beside us, all the time (Jeremiah 2:13).
Questions for Reflection:
* Do I include God in all I do?
* Have I reflected on, and compared, how things go when I include God and when I don’t?
Toward the end of your reflection on Jocelyn’s independence, and your concern as her mother that she tends to override that independence by trying something she’s possibly not yet ready for as a ten year old, you identified the key truth about our God’s gift to each of us that we all know so well, free will, a gift that He knew we could use or abuse. Yet in His infinite Love He still gave it to us and never took it back, even when our first parents abused that gift, creating hopeless consequences for all humanity. But in His endless Love, as you know so well, He sent His Son to use His free will in total sync with His Father’s and teach us how to do that … ever ready to take us back into His love, even when we mess up over and over to do our own thing, our will over His! I have every reassurance that being the beautiful, prayerful, loving mother that you are, Claire, you will gently and patiently teach your darling Jocelyn how to be gradually wise and discerning in the choices she makes, that she will come to recognize that although free will is a gift, using it with thought and prayer will bring her the happy and successful results she so desires.
“She will come to recognize that although free will is a gift, using it with thought and prayer will bring her the happy and successful results she so desires,” is such a beautiful sentiment, Jackie! If we all reached this place of wisdom, there would be so much more peace and joy in the world. Thank you!