Thursday, June 11, 2009

Father Power or Father Weakness

As I think about the above title of my blog, “Father Power,” this name mocks me. ”Keeping it real,” I am not really feeling the “father power” at this point in time. One of my adult children is making some choices that I do not understand or agree with. At this moment I feel “father weakness” and helplessness much more than I do “father power.” When I was a younger dad it all was much more simple and clear cut to me. Do “A” plus “B” and then the result will be “C.” For those who did not get the desired results in their parenting they were either a. not fully believing in the formula, b. believed in the formula but were not properly applying the formula, c. using some other “wrong formula,” or d. throwing the whole formula thing out all together and were just “winging it.”

Now that Cindy and I have most of our kids into adulthood we have come to see that the parenting formula thing just doesn’t “work” as we thought it was supposed to. I know that this view of parenting will be looked upon as “defeatist” or compromised somehow, but I’m sorry, kids do not come with guarantees. They aren’t appliances. When we are going through a rough “time” with one of our kids the problem for us is just that, the “time” factor. We don’t know how long this is going to continue or how the story being currently played out is going to end. We are out of control and that just feels so…out of control!

One of my good friends whom I confided in emailed me, “Be strong for your wife and weak for God.” That was helpful. As this is something that parents go through together, I AM called upon to support my wife through the inevitable parenting challenges we must face together with strength. But it has to be a strength that comes from God or it will be a false bravado. In my weakness, which I feel at this time as a dad, He has promised to give me His strength when things get tough. “And He has said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

I heard a Christian speaker recently say that we need to learn to sit with God and “only have questions.” Sometimes on this family journey, that’s all we have. Questions. When Job was going through his stuff he never learned the ”why” or the “how long” regarding his suffering. Doesn’t it just seem inconsiderate that God wouldn’t fill him in with what was going on behind the scenes and how He planned to make everything to come out as it did? Apparently our God finds answering the “whys” and “how longs” counterproductive when He is teaching his children important lessons of trust.

Recently I have been reminded of what I put my mother through as a rebellious teen. I was pretty immune to my mother’s pleading and cajoling but I could NOT resist her prayers. I can remember feeling some kind of invisible rope pulling me to Christ, even as I tried all I could to move away from Him. Little did I know at the time that my mother and a few of her friends formed a commando-like band of Christian sisters who prayed down the strongholds that held me captive by the enemy’s hands.

My mom used her “mother power” through her “mother weakness” by simple pleading prayer with a small group of other women to produce what her parenting efforts alone could not—a genuine change of heart in me, her one and only wayward son. That valuable lesson from my departed mother I can cling to today. No, our impact as fathers does not need to be limited to what we can do, what we can control or what we can see. When things get tough, we need not fret and ask ourselves “father power OR father weakness?” Rather we can confidently affirm what past generations of parents have learned in community with other parents: “father power THROUGH father weakness.”

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Anonymous said...

Wow. This hits home. Thanks for your transparency. With so much "how to" stuff out there we can easily feel defeated and deficient when our kids struggle. A great reminder that when we reach the end of our resources He is still at work!

William said...

Jamie,thanks for your post and your honesty about the stuff with your son.I believe that God is doing a work in him that that is between him and God, like he has done in all of our lives if we look back in hindsight, God really did not start his work in me till my family and friends got out of his way and stopped blocking my consequences for my actions .God Cant Get his work done in others untill we Get out of the way,I know for me it is very hard to do that when I have all the cookie cutter answers for any situation based on the (how to,s) that I have picked up over the years. just as I posted last week about telling my significant other how to parent her 11 year old and the best I could come up with was; get out an old fashion belt and beat his a**....all kinds of God in that one huh.I even referenced the old (spare the rod spoil the child)scripture. but the reality is Christ was not running around beating people up, he was constantly taking people to the foot of the cross.and I have to model Christ not William or the host of people who taught me to be un-Christ-like. so keep in mind our time together last night,we had a bible study with men from 19yrs-58yrs old with one brother on conference call. so know that you have fathered many (like Marvin & I) and will get a chance to father many more. but there comes a time we have to get out of Gods way and let him do his thing.... love u Jamie, and if I can walk with you in any way please let me know k....

Jim said...

Jamie, I always appreciate your insights, and even more, your candid openness and bold honesty. Today I made a wiser than usual decision regarding a difficult teen and took steps in the matter that actually blessed those involved. Instead of offering unwanted and unneeded flippant advice I chose to just walk thru the hard time in community with them. It was your recent thoughts I was weighing that helped alter my perspective in a way that breathed life and encouragement into a painful situation. Thank-you! Blessings, JM