And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:5
It never ceases to amaze me how the very promises I make to God, to my family, and to myself are so often challenged. Each time I glean some lesson from life’s experiences, and make a commitment to change my sinful, unloving, and not always Christ-like ways, I am forced to put that lesson learned into practice.
This time is no exception. Last week, I wrote about the good enough trap. I promised God and my children that only words of encouragement would come from my lips. Now, my question-how do I do this once again? How do I convince one of my children that I am proud of his “best” when deep down I worry that this “best” effort could ultimately harm?
I have for the most part been blessed as a mother of a teenager. My son is a good kid. He doesn’t get in trouble in school, aside from a little chattering in class (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), he is firm in his drug-free views, and he is a God-loving child-involved in church, and excited about being there. However, for the last couple of years, my teen has struggled with his grades. And, I don’t mean the “Oh no, I got a B struggle” that I consider to be a problem in my own school life. More like the “I’m going to fail math my junior year” type problem.
The year when decisions about the next stage of life must be confronted. The year when he must consider college. The decision I attempted to help him with a few months ago, asking for his “Top 5” list, and researching the steps he needed to take to get into those “Top 5’s.” The goals needed to reach that next stage.
I still have all that research. I still have those sheets of paper on which I meticulously wrote out every pro and con, every GPA and SAT requirement, and every possible financial scenario for each school. The list that looks like it could be out of reach-at least for now.
So, how do I tell my son that I know he tried his best? I know he worked as hard as he could, but this time, his goal may have been out of reach? While his best may be good for me, will it be good enough for the Dean of Admissions at his dream school?
My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9
I consider my parenting style to be pretty “soft.” While I admit I often expect more out of my own children when it comes to their behavior, and forget in essence they really are just kids, I also don’t hover and harp on some things either. Yes, of course I expect my children to perform well in school, but I also believe in teaching my children what happens when they do things like procrastinate-when they wait until Thursday night to do homework they have had since Monday. When they must make the decision to do ALL this homework instead of playing outside. I believe all children, even the smaller children, should understand the consequences of their choices.
And, while I try to teach these tough lessons to my children who are demanding a little independence of their own, while I try my best not to hover, nag, criticize, and dwell on the “not good enoughs,” I am now struggling with the need to hover for the next few months over an SAT prep book, and college applications to schools that are not on the “Top 5” list, all while still letting my son know that while his best may not be good enough for them, it is good enough for me.
While it may not be good enough for his list of dream schools, it is good enough for me.
While it may look like he failed on his high school transcript, he has not failed me.
He could never disappoint me.
He could never be less than good enough for me.
He could never do anything, say anything, or feel anything that would make me love him less.
Just as God has told me.
And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38
Even after a teenage pregnancy, I didn’t disappoint Him.
Even after a divorce, He didn’t stop loving me.
The times I didn’t put my kids first. The times I took every wrong turn. Each time I ran further and further away from Him, he still said to me: You are good enough. You could never disappoint me. You are loved. I am here, and we will get through this…together.
If my teenage son learns nothing else. Even if he doesn’t learn the valuable lesson in this circumstance. Even if next semester he struggles with his grades again. Even if his Top 5’s look more like Bottom 10’s, I want him to remember this:
You are good enough. You could never disappoint me. You are loved. I am here, and we will get through this together.