“Sometimes I feel like superman.  Sometimes I’m just recuperating.”  — Bob Schneider

That song lyric rolls around in my head often, but during this season of life it has become the theme.  In our life with kids some days it’s all we can do to survive.  Some days we are knocking it out of the park.  Then, of course, there are the days we think we are at the top of our game, but as soon as we relax, satisfied with ourselves, well…you know the rest of the story (something breaks, someone gets sick, kids fight, all hell breaks loose).

The main question I seem to be asking myself everyday is, “Can I make it until the kids go to bed without coming unglued or am I going to lose it today?”  

Sometimes I feel like Superman.  Sometimes I’m just recuperating.

Now, many are quick to say this season with young kids in the house is the most demanding. They also say it’s the toughest time for marriages and individuals, so we should give ourselves (and our spouse) a ton of grace.  It’s just a season and it will pass.  This is absolutely true and I know this is part of what I’m about to say.  However, for me personally, I think I’ve discovered something else going on.  Something a bit deeper.  Something hiding out behind the scenes.  Something that I need to confess.

I’m discontent.  I’m tired of the rhythms of my days.  I’m frustrated with my state of my life.

This has been bubbling up in my mind for awhile, but I was reading an article recently that helped me process my discontent.  Paul David Tripp was being interviewed and his response to this question got me:

In what ways can the trials of the teenage years reveal what is really going on in the parents’ hearts?

“I wish I could say that the only time I got angry was when one of them broke God’s law!  However, the truth is that often I wasn’t angry because they had sinned, but because their sin got in my way.  And what often gets in the way of parenting teenagers are the idolatries of the parents.”

And there it was.  I want comfort, success, respect, control and these have become idols in my life.  I’m not discontent with my kids.  In fact, I’m having the most fun I’ve had as a parent in this current stage.  The problems is not them, it’s me!   Why else would I take the fact that my 4 year old doesn’t respect me in a particular moment so personally?

Here’s my complaint:  The morning routine isn’t giving much space for the personal quiet I need.  School dropoffs and pickups are getting in the way of my work and productivity.  Bedtime routines are stealing any head space or emotional capacity I have left at the end of the day to share with my spouse.

Bottom line:  I’m trying to work hard and get ahead in life and they’re trying to be kids and enjoy life.  Go figure.

“God-given Ministry Opportunities”

For those of you who are parents of teens, I think this is HUGE!  It’s hard and it requires an honest look at yourself, but to me it feels like if I can get this, I will save myself, and my family, a lot of heartache. 

Paul Tripp goes on to say if these things (idols) rule our heart, then in a moment of normal teen trouble, we will overreact.  It will be more about the fact that your teen “has stopped you from doing or having what you really want” than what they actually did.  In the those misguided moments, we just want to get the situation over with, we get frustrated, and we seek the quick fix.   In doing so, “we turn a God-given ministry opportunity into a moment of anger”.

Did you catch that?  What a transformational idea!  Moments of trouble are God-given opportunities and a unique chance for us to connect to the heart of our child.

Hitting a Rock

This reminds me of a story in my life.  There was a troubled teenager I was working with and I was taking him home one evening.  He was the last kid being dropped off and I could sense there was a lot on his mind.  It was a school night and his parents wanted him home quickly or I would have suggested going to grab a bite to eat and talk.  I tried to draw it out of him, but nothing was coming.  As I dropped him off, I was backing out of his long, narrow driveway just praying and wishing I had a chance to encourage him at some point.  As I began to turn into the circle to head home, I hit a bump and the car stopped moving.  I was pretty sure I just flattened his mailbox.  Either way, I was stuck.

I had run my bumper over a decorative rock at the end of the drive and it was stuck between the wheel and the bumper.  I wasn’t going anywhere.  I went back to the house.  The student and I rigged a way to get my car off the rock and laughed about the situation.  The laughter led to deeper conversation and I was able to encourage him in his current struggles.  Without the rock, I’m not sure we would have had the conversation we had that night.

Is it possible that some of the the bumps we encounter are holy moments waiting to be discovered?

Finding Contentment

As I reflect, my moments of anger are clearly revealing the idols of my heart.  The main problem in these moments of anger haven’t been my kids wrongdoing, it’s been my idolatry.  I’m discontent because they are getting in the way of what I want most – namely, the idol of comfort.

To find contentment, I’ve got to deal with my own heart.  I’m not there yet, but I can tell you that I can’t wait to go home tonight and look my kids in the eyes and tell them how incredible they are.  It’s a start!

Does this resonate with you as well?  As you reflect on recent “moments of anger” with your kids, what do they reveal about your heart?  How can you remind yourself in times of disruption and trouble that this might be the God-given opportunity you needed to connect with the heart of your child?

You can read the full article quoted above here.