Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Welcome to Delaware {And the boy who took me there}

There’s a song that’s been on repeat in my head over the last several months~ “Welcome to Delaware” by the Nockels of Watermark. It’s an old one but I remember the comfort it brought me while waiting on children.  I don’t know but I feel the song was written from a painful spot that worked its way to submission and ultimately, contentment and trust in His creative, redeeming ways.

Just to get the jist,

“But You've let me see so much since I've known You
But I’m headed to where it seemed like nowhere
You told me You'd come
You told me You'd meet me here

You were here to say,
"Welcome to Delaware,
I know you've traveled far,
And it's a lot colder here than what you're used to,
And I know, that in the winter time,
things aren't what they used to be
So all you really have here now, is Me..." “

Delaware.  No man’s land.  Unfamiliar territory.  A big question mark.  A place you never thought you’d be.  A place you know nothing about.  But God is there.

Each of our lives are full of Delawares- some more painful, some unexpected, some just unfamiliar.  Our move to Texas, planting a church, infertility, adoptions- open and closed, a ministry like Tarrant NET, homeschooling.  It’s all normal life stuff, but definitely unfamiliar and that’s where my new Delaware comes in.  A boy.  Raising a normal nine year old boy through a normal boyhood.  But somehow this “normal” feels like a remote, thickly wooded area of Delaware, in that I can only see what’s right in front of me.  The misdirected energy, the constant pushing, the consistent testing..... I get stuck there and it veils the amazing view around me and the vision of what is and what could be.  Here is where I need to focus.  On the whole landscape.  Over many years.  10:30 am on a Monday morning?  Yesterday?  Not so much.  

I knew little boys pulled away from their mommas and I knew it was normal, healthy, and necessary but I had no idea how soon it would begin.  And we’ve been there a couple of years.  They don’t really know they are doing it but they sense changes and different needs within and they begin the slow process of pulling away...... towards dad.  It’s not leaving or even a disconnect from mom but a necessary part of becoming their own little man.  And we have to let them.  We have to.  Along with the heartache the tugging causes, what complicates it further is that Brighton is under my care most of the day, feeling the need to make his own decisions, to have a little control and to bristle, at times, to my instructions and training.   And I understand that because I still bristle.  What I don’t understand is how this works out in minute to minute parenting~ giving him some autonomy in the same moments he needs to finish a school assignment or in his desire for independence and my desire for him to complete a chore.  Yes, these are small choices, not life threatening situations, but here is where I am trying to see the landscape, the whole of the woods.  If he is learning to wind through the trees now while they are smaller, maybe when the situations loom large and are towering over him, he will know his way around and dodge some unnecessary heart ache.  Maybe.

I’ve said this before.  I can’t talk about Brighton without talking about Jeff.  Jeff takes Brighton any time he can-- running errands, the last half hour at this office, skeet shooting.  Whatever Jeff is doing that Brighton can be with him, Jeff invites him and Brighton’s answer is ALWAYS yes!  Nothing can compete with this.  And the best part?  They “get” each other.  Jeff grew up in “Delaware”.  He was a boy once, right?  Brighton needs to be “gotten”, especially by his Dad and Jeff is allowing so much time for this.  I am so grateful.

When I think of Brighton, words like potential, influence, charismatic, sensitive, persistence, people-loving, intuitive float around in my mind.  Then there is one word that I scribble across all of these because it affects every part of who he is.  “Strong-willed”.  And that’s not a bad word.  I used to think it was.  Now, it makes for some interesting parenting moments but just a few weeks ago, I had to ask myself, “Would I really rather him be weak-willed?”  Absolutely not.  Then why do I get tangled up with it so often?

I listen to podcasts when I walk and currently I am being discipled by whoever is talking about marriage or parenting on Focus on the Family.  (My scope is narrow right now.)  A couple of weeks ago, Cynthia Tobias spoke on “Practical Advice on Parenting Strong Willed Children” and it changed the way I saw Brighton- not to the point where I understand him fully or even know what to do with him all the time but it gave me insight into his thoughts and why he does some of the things he does.   The thing I keep thinking about she said is the child doesn’t necessarily want to control you.  He just needs to maintain a little bit of control over himself.  Can you relate to that?  I can and I think we all have a bit of that going on~ some more than others.  When a child tries to exercise that last little bit of control when we are yelling for them to get in the car (like running back in to get a drink or a different pair of shoes), it gets under our skin and in that moment, we can make it easier or we can turn it into an issue over being 2 minutes later leaving the driveway.  To keep it real, I fall into the latter way more than I want to admit.  The other thing she said was giving them ultimatums, like a do or die scenario, never goes well.  Sometimes a strong willed child would rather “die” than “do” for you.  I think you can imagine the scenarios-- {sitting at the table in front of the dinner plate ALL night or taking the zero at school}  Tear that page out of the parenting book.

By His grace, this trip to Delaware with B, will produce good stuff for our whole family.  It keeps me praying, keeps me dependent, and keeps Jeff and me in serious communication.  Doesn’t ALL of parenting?  The most comforting thing is that the Lord is really the tour guide on this journey through boyhood.  He may use Jeff and me but only He can lead Brighton through it in a way that will produce the fruit of a boy who loves Him, desires to obeys and lives to serve Him.  I can’t touch that.  But it has to be what I see, the entire landscape, in the moment of frustration, in the moment of “What do I do now?” , in the moment of his maintaining a little control for himself.  Faithfully, God comes and raises His own in creative and redemptive ways.  In Ephesians 3:20 kinds of ways.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”

I’m counting on that.

My goal is to embrace his strong will and encourage him live it out under the control of the Holy Spirit and for me to have the self control to sit back and watch God at work.
Immeasurably more.  According to His power.  Not by might.

So, watch out world when we finally make it out of Delaware.


Patti said...

The costume is perfection for this boy of yours. I have one of these kids too. It is humbling and powerful business to be in charge of them for now. This was so good for me to read. Thanks for sharing your process.

Emily said...

When it comes to parenting, I have no idea. I just see you both being faithful and persistent and it encourages me. And, in so many of the pictures that are on this post I was shocked to find how grown up B is staring to look! What is happening?!

TJ Wilson said...

He does look grown up - even coloring on that rug-less den floor. ;)
Great analogy with Delaware - love that.

Freckled Pink said...

This was so good, Krista. You have such a way with words. If your schedule ever allowed, I would love to sit down with you and hear your wisdom on the "strong willed" child. My Allie is very strong-willed, and I find myself often in those "do or die" situations, and she is content to "die" most of the time. She would rather sit at the table for hours than eat her dinner (or breakfast or lunch ,for that matter!) Watermark has been a favorite of mine for years, and especially this song. I was just listening to it this morning. :)

Krista Sanders said...

Sweet Tori--- I don't know that I have much to offer since I am in the thick of it but an "I understand" can go a long way I've found out. I'd love to catch up with you and share parenting stories!

Kathie said...

I don't have children and the issues you deal with, but I have my own "Delaware", the unfamiliar territory of my life that I stumble around in trying to figure things out on my own without depending on God's infinite wisdom and presence in my life. It seems like I am forever repeating the same "lessons"....