Sweaty but eager, we gather around our tennis coach after a drill. In wrapping up, he reminds us of something he says often about “winning”. “Instead of worrying about whether you’re winning, you need to just stay in the present point. You need to detach from the outcome.”
Immediately one of the other moms on the team says, “That’s what I do with my kids!”
Does that mean she doesn’t care if her kids are convicts or racists or just neglect to say “thank you”? Not at all! It just means that she knows she can only be responsible for her part.
When they’re little that includes coaching and consequences, time-outs and training.
And prayer. Lots of prayer.
I have a mentor friend who used to tell her kids, “I have you basically for 18 years and I’m going to steward that time as wisely and prayerfully as I can.” Does that mean when they turned 18 she tore up her “mom card” and said “Phew, I’m done!”? Absolutely not. She continues to pray, trusting God to get her kids where they need to go.
Another friend has a grown daughter with issues. She kept rescuing her daughter from the consequences of her bad choices as an adult until she had a “Detach from the outcome” moment. She realized her actions were driven by what others might think of her as a parent if they saw her daughter’s destructive behavior. She opened her hands and acknowledged that her daughter was differentiated from her – an adult, responsible for her own choices. Again, that didn’t mean she stopped loving and praying fervently for her daughter. It meant she clarified what was her job, and what was her daughter’s job.
But the other day I was talking to one of my closest friends about a family member we’ve prayed for for 15 years without seeing the fruit we have begged God for. WHY Lord?
I wonder…What might it have been like for the father in the parable of the prodigal son?
How long was the son gone? How long did the dad pray?
Did he go over in his mind all the mistakes he had made as a parent? The times when he lost his temper? The times they skipped family devotions? That time he was too busy to play catch? Did he struggle to trust God to forgive and redeem his parental shortcomings?
Did he pray, somedays feeling like it was hopeless – like his son would never come to his senses?
He let his son go. He let him experience the consequences of his actions. Did he fight the urge every day to run to the “far country” and rescue him?
Did he struggle to know what his part was and what God’s part was? What the parable says is that he kept waiting and watching.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
How can you be a perfect parent? You admit you’re not, and you embrace your job to pray and wait and watch, trusting the only One who is.
God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul… Psalm 62:5-6