I woke up at 5am. I don’t do that very often. I have friends who have already been up an hour and burned more calories than I ate the day before by the time my feet even hit the floor. I’m so proud of them. But that’s not me.
If I’m up at 5am, something strange is going on.
I’m sure today it was because today our oldest son was turning 16.
I’m not sad that he’s 16.
I’m just shocked.
And I feel really unprepared for the next 2 years.
I feel like WE are really unprepared. We’ve got about 2 years left until he moves out, most likely. And really I feel like the bulk of our training is done...right now we just help him stay the course. I was also a little concerned that HE is unprepared.
When I woke up at 5am I was remembering all the ways we’ve messed up this parent gig. Ok maybe not ALL the ways. I’m sure we’ll learn about more of them later. Hopefully not from Dr. Phil. But a few of the big fails were scrolling through my mind.
It didn’t take long for the Lord to remind me of something I learned about on Sunday.
Our pastor was talking about miracles.
He had us focused on the one where Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding. Remember that one? I did, too, but I had never heard it taught like this. He said that one of the reasons historians believe Jesus’s mom asked Him to turn that water into wine was because it was a “more significant blunder than most of us realize” for a family to run out of wine at a wedding. Culturally, that communicated that the family was either lacking in enthusiasm about the marriage, or just plain unprepared.
Unprepared. I think looking “unprepared” is like the worst thing ever in our culture.
Was I worried at 5am this morning that Jacob would rebel and shame our family because of our lack of preparedness in being parents? Not really. I think I was more concerned that our lack of preparedness communicated to him that he wasn’t worth it. I want him to know he is worth it. I want him to know how much we love him. And to me, that means being prepared.
Our parenting philosophy has never been to keep our kids from failing. Nor has it been to keep us from being ashamed. We didn’t want to raise robots who glorify Mom and Dad. We want to raise strong, confident, independent boys who love others and love the Lord and love LIFE.
There are a lot of ways, though, that I feel like I haven’t really prepared them for life. Because life is not easy. At all. And one of my LEAST favorite things is showing up unprepared. So you can see the fear and shame stirring as I thought about how Jacob might navigate life after being raised by terribly imperfect parents. Unprepared parents.
I love what Mary, Jesus’s mother, did when she realized they were out of wine. She saw the shame cloud looming on the horizon and she went and got Jesus. As our pastor said, she “knows that Jesus can do something about the problem, and the potential shame that could be introduced to this family, so she pushes Jesus to the center stage and says to the servants ‘Just do whatever Jesus tells you to do.’”
So to the unprepared mom heart that was remembering all the failures at 5am, Jesus said to me “I show up in your unprepared places.”
That’s the other thing about Jesus turning that water into wine. It was the best wine of the night. Remember the headmaster of the wedding said “Most people bring out the best wine at the beginning, but YOU saved the best for last!” - only God could do that.
As that truth from Scripture scrolled through my uncaffeinated consciousness I was instantly calmed. I felt this complete assurance that in all the places where Sylas and I are unprepared for this parenting gig, Jesus is showing up with new wine. We acknowledge we need Him, and He shows up with the best wine.
I wanted to get Jacob a Bible for his birthday. I wanted to put a post it on it that says “This is all you need.” He would be opening it tonight at the end of his 16th birthday and I wanted it to be simple but memorable. So at lunch I went to the closest Christian book store and stood, completely overwhelmed, in the Bible section looking at 31,000 translations. My mind wandered again… “Have we protected him from too much? Does he even know how much he really needs Jesus? How could he know? He has everything he needs, and more. He’s a good kid. Have we told him too much what a good kid he is? Have we pointed him to Jesus enough?"
I grabbed a Bible and sat down. I asked the Lord to show me, sooner rather than later, how to guide Jacob to Jesus in a way that lifts him up, not just a “hey you’re a sinner and you need Him so read this Bible” type of way.
And it was even as I was writing this blog about what happened this morning that the Spirit showed me it’s IN MY unpreparedness that Jacob will see Jesus. It’s in the places I’ve failed as a parent to train him and groom him that Jesus shows up and fills the gaps. Of course, Jacob will need to recognize those gaps but he will. In God’s perfect time.
After I found a Bible I thought would work, I sat in that chair and debated having his name imprinted on it. I was faced with another decision - “should it say Jacob? Or Jacob Ryan? Or Jacob Ryan Politte? Or JRP? Or is it too cheesy to have your name on the Bible? Am I still stuck in 1992? I mean I’m trying with my hair and stuff but I think the name on the Bible thing is pretty much 1992. Plus I could save $5 if I don’t do it.”
That’s when I heard that still, small voice say “Just love him.”
Yeah sure God, that just sounds way too easy. These are the TEEN years. 16, 17, 18….I’m supposed to be stressed OUT.
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light….and I show up when you surrender and cover all the places where you are unprepared.”
Funny, I was just talking to another mom who is about 10 years ahead of me in the momming journey. We were laughing about what a sucker I am because I always take the boys their homework that they forget. And their lunch.
She said she thinks that’s ok. Today I realized that when I do that, I cover their shame. I have their back. I don’t need to expose their lack of preparation.
I’m not saying that’s always the right thing to do. Or that if you want to be like Jesus you will cover your kid’s butt all the time. I know there are times when kids need to face their own consequences, and I’m a huge proponent of that. I also love getting to be the mom who shows up and comes in clutch here and there just to show them I love them.
Like Jesus did at that wedding.
So basically, what He reminded me of today is that we’re all in this together. It wasn’t ever about us being prepared, anyway. Sure, the Bible talks about parenting practices and parenting principles and even parenting promises! But at the end of the day, it’s not about how prepared we were. It’s about how we pointed them to Jesus and said “Do whatever it is he says to do.”
The last 2 years of Jacob’s life at home, I’m claiming, will be like the best wine. Better than we could ask for or imagine. The best days aren’t behind us. Although those were fun, and I enjoyed his chubby face and the days when I rocked him to sleep, I truly believe the best is yet to come.
I used to hear people say “Does she have NO shame?”
No, she doesn’t. Even when she’s unprepared.
By a guy who makes really great wine.
You should meet Him.
He’s really, really faithful.