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Part of aging is saying good-bye. One of the first good-byes we say is to our kids as they grow up and leave home. Most of the time it is a healthy part of their growing up. Sometimes, it happens gradually as they grow up and go off to college, coming home during vacations. Sometimes, they stay home and go to Junior College. They live at home, often work and go to school as well. Sometimes, they go some sort of training and get a job. It happens sooner or later.
Eventually, our children grow up, move out of our homes, and say, “Good-bye.”
Our children get jobs, often get married, and move away from our homes and sometimes even from our towns. They often have children and begin raising their own children and raising their own families. Then we see which of our values they chose to follow and which they tossed for one reason or other. At times, it can become contentious between us as the differences show up.
There can be contention with our grown children, even our Christian children.
For us, it can be heartbreaking as well, if they aren’t following after the Lord. But there can be in-between areas of contention. In the process, they may have different areas of emphasis in politics than we do, different areas of emphasis in theology than we do, different areas of emphasis in child raising than we do–to name the big 3. That doesn’t cover conflicts with in-laws of course. We need to decide if they are so important that we want to sacrifice our relationship on those topics. Generally, I would rather not. We can always pray for them and ourselves. God can work in all of us to change us in the ways we need to change. Novel idea isn’t it?
There is no question that having grown children is a big change at the time. It is often the first of many good-byes.
But it is the end of an era. Those days of having our kids at home end faster than we expect. Having the noise, exuberance, chaos, and fun that children bring into a home is a sad thing to say good-bye to. All those years of training, teaching, laughing, loving, listening to, being responsible for, playing with, encouraging, and finally seeing them begin to mature… Then, it seems like suddenly, they are gone, even when we saw it coming.
There is a part of us that is happy to see that our kids have launched well…if they have. It is heart-breaking if they don’t launch well and stay dependent on us or have rebelled and don’t even want to be near us.
The fortunate ones are those who have their children and grandchildren near enough to see often. They get along well with their children and their children’s spouses. Their children are happy to be with them. But that is not as common as Hallmark movies or commercials might indicate.
Good relationships take time, work and the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
Good relationships take time and work. They don’t just happen. Often, we can be blind to the parts we play in sabotaging the relationships. I speak as the voice of experience there. We have to listen to the quiet voice of the Spirit rather than the accusing voice of the Evil One in these situations. It takes time to distinguish the difference. We can pray for God to bring about change, but often He brings change in us–a humble spirit, the willingness to apologize, the willingness to not always be right…and on it goes. Over time, God brings about change in all of us. He draws us closer together. He helps us understand what is important–people, the people we love.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 4:30-5:2 ESV