What is it about praying for your kids that you swing from wildly ambitious hopes to woefully mundane fears, never sticking to one or the other? At least that’s what happens to me.
My two boys are great. Both in their 20s, they are following fabulously different paths, one in a creative business environment the other on a rich spiritual journey, and in my head I can see the two paths cross in an explosion of talent and wisdom.
Here’s a prayer for the parent of a grown-up child: Please let me listen, Lord, and know when I should step in to help, and when I should let go and let you do the helping.
Alas, I want to micro-manage at all times. And in lieu of that, I do what I remember my father did when I was in my mid-20s. I send links to articles, clippings, little things I think maybe, possibly, they might want to read. The subtext: If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to this expert.
I waffle between trusting God and wishing to be God and making it all happen for them, with a wave of my wrist, a magic wand and a prayer, transform their lives.
Not long ago, I was thumbing my way through the Scriptures, looking for some model parents. I noticed in the book of Luke how Mary, at the prospect of this extraordinary child she would bear, burst forth in magnificent poetry: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices at his presence…”
Well, that’s Mary, I thought. She was, after all the mother of God. She could afford to have outrageous dreams and hopes.
But if you keep reading the gospel of Luke you quickly come to a moment when she sounds like any other anxious parent. Remember that story, how Jesus at age 12, lingers behind in Jerusalem and doesn’t join his earthly parents on the caravan back?
Missing him, worried sick, they hurry back to Jerusalem, searching high and low, only to find him in the temple, “His Father’s house.”
It is a parent’s fate. You dream big dreams, pray big prayers, plummet back into worry–where are they?–then you let it go and trust God. They are, after all, in God’s hands.