A few weeks ago I wrote about how middle school is eating my lunch. I wrote about how I want to just jump past the struggle and pain. I want to have all the answers in place and know how to utilize them to make life easier. Update: middle school is continuing to eat my lunch. Middle school is the bully who takes your lunch, eats it in front of you, throws your mom’s homemade bread in the trash then pushes you down on the way out of the cafeteria. I want it all to just disappear.
This make-it-all-go-away attitude is so indicative of the time we live in. We want and expect instant gratification. We want results without the work. We want the easy button. For the love of middle school bullies…where is the easy button?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy button. Ever. And we have to walk through the deep valleys and do the hard work to see success and results. I was reminded of this hard-work concept this week as I was reading Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You by Kelly Johnson. When it comes to struggle and hardship she used the example of a vineyard. The growers don’t make it easy for the vines to grow. The soil is rocky on purpose to force the vines to establish strong and deep roots which will, in time, help the plant produce better fruit.
This example could not fit more seamlessly into where I find myself during this middle school season of life. We find ourselves being forced to put down deep roots, learn hard lessons, make big mistakes, and experience suffering in order to be better people.
Regardless of how much I want to push past these hard middle school years, I just can’t. There is no easy button for middle school. We have hard, rocky years ahead of us. But the pain and struggle can be worth it. I know it can because I can see so much potential in my middle schooler. I can see past the forgetfulness, the homework struggle, the heartache, the missing assignments, the sullen attitude if I just put my own disappointments and expectations aside. The thing is, each day is an uphill battle to remind myself of what is hiding behind the struggle. It is so easy to become overwhelmed in what is going wrong that I can become blind to what is going right. I have to constantly remind myself of what I know to be true – that I have a great kid. One who is creative and funny and super smart. These things are the good and true things. These are the things that will remain long after report cards have been posted.
One thing that has helped me hold on to hope is the reminder that God loves this child even more than I do. Again, thanks to Kelly’s wise words about letting her own daughter follow her own path, I’m reminded that I’m not the end-all and be-all in how to love this child.
At first, I couldn’t even imagine someone loving my child more deeply or passionately than I do. I’m his mom. There is no one on this planet who can love him more than the people who brought him into this world. It is my job to be his cheerleader and his advocate. I am the tiger who pushes him to do and be better and also who will rip you apart if you do too much harm to him. Who could possibly love him more?
His creator. That’s who can possibly love him more. The one who knows him deeper and better than I do. The one who knows his story and how it fits into the tapestry of the infinite.
Through these hard years I have to remain faithful that the one who loves my children more deeply than I can comprehend, will also guide me to do the right things for them. Each day I have to forgive myself for the mistakes I made the day before in this thing called parenting and forge ahead. Each day, each moment, each conversation, each blow-up, I have to move forward with love and intention.
Each day I have to choose hope over despair. I have to trust that the one who loves him more will take care of him when I can’t and in spite of myself. Choosing hope in the midst of these hard years is hard work but it is holy work because there is no easy button for middle school.