“Do not be fooled into thinking the transformational journey is necessarily smooth, predictable, linear or progressive adventure…Most believers are stunned by how long and arduous the journey to wholeness is. And if you were hoping that the route to wholeness would be one of familiarity and serenity, think again. Every believer who
doggedly pursues transformation with God will spend oodles of time outside of
their comfort zone – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, relationally,
and behaviorally.” (p 30 – Maximum Faith – Live Like Jesus – George Barna)
With the essential understanding of the need to live my life motivated by love not fear now securely in mind, I had
gained a much-needed insight into my parenting habits. However, such newly acquired knowledge did not
really resolve the deeper pain of the past. Yes, a better future was truly beginning to take shape in my mind and heart, but in the here and now of life…things were not all that different.
My wife and I slowly worked to help Bethany cope with her moods swings and occasional bouts of depression and in time our belief that our daughter was actually going to survive was revived, and so would we. Our previous personal pride as her parents had rapidly evaporated in the shadow of admitting our role in her collapse. When that pride and confidence left, it took along with it our presumptive belief in any remaining parenting ability we had left. We no longer assumed we had what it takes to successfully prepare and release our kids into adulthood. We were running on empty. Nothing left to give. Maybe someday, we could recover our confidence enough to at least give them a running head start, some resemblance of wise counsel to direct their emotional maturity and spiritual balance… but that was iffy at best. In the weeks and months following Bethany’s drama, we wondered openly between ourselves if God was still going to be able to use us effectively in her life.
Our belief in our ability to resume our normal roles as her parents had simply been wiped away. We were left feeling inadequate, alone and filled with a dull understanding of just how badly we had misunderstood her condition. We had tried to be good parents; we spent lots of
personal time with her. Took her shopping, bought her gifts, made sure she had healthy friendships, attended church regularly and made it to youth summer camp the year before. And we had done our part too, we dutifully attended the parenting courses at Church, Paige had read at least a dozen Christian authors on the subject of parenting girls and we felt like we had been attentive and aware of the needs and circumstances of our kids’ lives. The fear and shock of realizing just how badly our efforts had fallen short was now obvious. Not only were we forced to accept that our parenting strategies were completely inept, we had to acknowledge the books didn’t seem to give us any real help in resolving things at all on our own.
We were left unsure of what our next steps should be; I was trying to realign my own understanding of God in an effort to live out of a different life motivation, but I was still fearful of screwing things up much worse than before. I knew all too well how my personality would often attach itself to new ideas or concepts and ferociously embrace them for a period of time, only to abandon them later when I grew bored with it. What if this Love vs. Fear concept was simply another fad spiritual awakening for my personal distraction and consumption? I was determined to not act or move forward until I knew that God was directing us to do so. That left us in sort of parenting “stalemate”. Our home life seemed to be stabilizing and we both seemed to be more “aware” of and attentive to Bethany’s needs. What else could we do to help our daughter further?
Why dig into all the psychological stuff that might be better off left alone? We didn’t know a single parent or family who had walked down this road before. If we spoke out about our situation, we would be the first of our band of friends and it was a daunting consideration to admit our failure publicly among our peers and then stoop to asking for help from those who had held us in such previous high esteem.
But we did….
(the above text is a un-edited portion of the 2012 RoadTrip Parenting book with Tyndale Publishers, All rights reserved (c) 2010 MC2 LLC)