In the realm of learning to let go of things, letting go of controlling other people is a biggie.
Even if we are not particularly controlling people, there are certain people and certain times where we just want to put a pause button on what folks are doing, re-wind a little, and replay scenarios making changes in actions and behaviors.
Most of the time this is for the folks in question own good. Lots of time it is for our own good. People hurt us. People’s actions hurt us. Watching our loved ones suffer hurts us.
But guess what? We are not in charge of them.
This is a big issue in my house right now as I have a soon to be teenaged daughter and a son right on her heels entering puberty even as I write. Oh My Lord. They are doing a lot of things that don’t make sense to me. Frankly, they are doing a lot of things that get on my last nerve.
And technically, I am still within my rights to punish them for their actions and “make them” do things. But my goal is not to be in charge of their life, even if that means they make better choices. My goal is to raise them to become self-sufficient, well functioning adults. And for that to happen they are going to have to suffer the consequences of their own actions for a while.
Not that this is easy. It drives me crazy to watch my daughter go out in winter weather in nothing but short sleeves, a pair of jeans, and some flip flops. So crazy I can even hear my Grandmother complaining in her grave. It makes me angry to watch my son continue to have a zero for a homework grade in math because he did the wrong page of problems and he is too stubborn to admit he made a mistake. KIDS DO CRAZY THINGS AND THEY CAN MAKE PARENTS CRAZY TOO!
To help my sanity and yours too, I am going to repeat the best piece of advice I’ve heard in some time,
“They gonna do what they gonna do.”
Okay, I saw this advice on a dubious marriage “therapist” flyer on facebook, but let me tell you when I read it I clapped and cheered for I knew it to be true.
Right now my kids are gonna do what they are gonna do. And I can punish and nag them to death. Or I can let them suffer the cold, suffer the bad grade, suffer their own consequences. For in truth it is better for them to suffer these small mistakes now than big mistakes they might make if I cut the cord after controlling them for ten more years.
Not that I totally leave them to their own devices.
No, we are still called to lead by example. (You’d better believe I wear my coat when it is cold). I still give advice one time and let them choose to follow it or not. And of course if they make a big bad choice they will be punished and counseled.
But I think in the meantime it might be best if I keep loving them at a small distance while they figure things out.
Because that’s how God seems to operate in my life. I am not controlled or micro-managed by God (frankly, sometimes I wish I were). But no, God gives us room to make our choices. Knowing that if we suffer enough from a mistake we might have the sense to turn around and follow God’s lead.
And thankfully if we don’t figure it out God in infinite mercy still sends in rescue teams to drag us out of our pit.
But when we just piddle around making less than smart choices that make our life harder than it has to be, I think God just shakes the Almighty head sadly and mutters,
“They gone do what they gone do.”
And God keeps on loving us still.