Mothering, Trusting God, Worry

Worry: Living Out Today

Father-son kayaking

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Can I be honest and say that I was naive about the teen years? I had this idea that, sure, the boys would grow bigger, hormones would pulse, change their voices, add odors, and transform them from children into men.

I had the idea that, though there would be disagreements, we’d be able to work through them the way we always have: talking about them.

What I didn’t anticipate was the changes in personality. The sneakiness as their thought processes develop. I didn’t expect the volatile emotions. I know, I know. I should have.

T Cousins

The teen years are called tumultuous for a reason.

One boy turned thirteen this year, and the other is on the cusp of the teen years. I’ve watched friends walk through heartbreak with their teens, and I commiserated with them . . . to the extent that I could understand their mama-hurts.

Now, though . . .

Teens connecting over chess

Now, I’m beginning to understand more of the depth of heart hurts that come as our children grow in independence. Make choices that aren’t always wise. As they learn skills that aren’t all good.

I’ve prayed since they were little that their sin would find them out. I’m so thankful God answers this prayer. He’s revealing the boys’ sin choices to us. Knowing how to train them at that heart level? That’s something I have yet to figure out.

Edmund dwarf

Sometimes, this motherhood journey leaves me weary. As I peek into the long days, weeks, years, with teens in the house, I’m tasting the heartbreak that every mother must partake in.

Because we’re moms.

Our boys are experimenting with new freedoms, new choices, new influences. Yes, this is how they grow. Even though they are teenagers, they’re still in training. Honestly? Based on what we’ve walked through recently, part of me dreads the coming years.

But, God.

Mt 6-33 copy

God is with me in this moment. In each moment. When I’m tempted to fear the coming challenges—the inevitable heartaches that come as kids grow into adulthood—I need to remember this:

God is with me.

He doesn’t want me worrying about the future. He’s using this day to 1) equip me for the coming challenges, and 2) to give me practice in trusting His word, His faithfulness. He’s giving me opportunities to lean into Him.

He has reminded me that He is with me in this day. He will be with me in each day.

This is true for all of us.

Girls playing frisbee

Whatever we’re dealing with, God is with us in this moment, in these circumstances.

He is preparing us for future things as we walk out today. Each step we take, each choice we make today? These lay the foundation for the future. For the difficulties and for the joys.

The boys and me

He doesn’t want us to look toward and borrow tomorrow’s trouble. He wants us to live in this day, trusting Him for today.

Though we’re limited to living one moment at a time, we are loved by a God who isn’t confined between the walls of minutes. He’s walking out today with us, building the foundation that will prepare us for our futures.

Black and White Aspens

We can trust Him today. And in each coming day.

What about you? When you feel overwhelmed by today’s challenges, what truths do you cling to? What wise advice do you offer to moms of teens?

Click to tweet: We are loved by a God who isn’t confined between the walls of minutes.

I’m linking up with Holly Barrett at Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie at A Purposeful Faith blog.

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23 thoughts on “Worry: Living Out Today”

  1. Jeanne, you might be interested in knowing that the original English definition of ‘teen’ is misery or grief, from the Old English teona (long ‘e’), meaning ‘injury’.

    It’s not a bad connexion; part of the anguish and anger of the teenage years comes from a consciousness of the loss of childhood’s innocence. This is well-expressed by Salinger in the image of Holden Caulfield wanting to be the “catcher in the rye”, being there to save children from falling from the high plateau of innocence onto the dismal plains of adulthood. He wanted to catch the children, hold them back.

    Advice? Know that You Are Not The Target. A teen’s anger can feel personal, and sometimes it’s pointedly so, but as a Mom, you are a symbol…a symbol of a world and Creation that forced changes that are at the same time attractive and repellent. You’re on the other side of that divide; something of a co-conspirator with a God who took away the fun of baseball and replaced it with the frustration of…girls.

    And upon what do I fall back, when things seem bleak? I must tread carefully here, because I am a man of two worlds; though a Christian, I am also a Buddhist. And today, I will let the Buddhist chap roam free.

    The Buddhist’s Three Jewels are –

    Buddha – the example of a mortal man who found enlightenment in this life, and escape from the slavery of desire.

    Dharma – the accumulated teachings of the Buddha, and the commentary of those who came after him. Dharma is not holy writ; it is experientially tested by every Buddhist, every day.

    Sangha – the community of Buddhists. Today, these are the folks with whom you meet in the Zen temple, or whom you see on line at places like http://www.dailyzen.com. The people who try to live in a way that puts them further from desire, second by second, to that calm inner peace where God’s voice can be heard.

    This is not antithetical to Christian belief, primarily because in no way is one to worship Buddha (specifically the most recent Buddha, Gautama, formerly the prince Siddhartha) as a god. Buddhism is a way to live within one’s religious framework. For most Asian Buddhists, it’s Living within Hinduism (Gautama Buddha was a Hindu), Taoism, or Shinto.

    For an American…well, the Dalai Lama was once asked by a Christian how one might be a good Buddhist, and his reply was, “Be the most devout Christian you can be.”

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    1. Andrew, you offered so many thoughts here. Thank you for sharing your insights. Yes, in the heat of a temper tantrum teenage-style (glaring eyes, hard words, etc), it’s easy to forget that I’m not the target. I’m holding onto that. And remembering that childhood innocence being lost is a part of maturing. It’s a part of coming into adulthood and all that comes with it.

      And I found the Dalai Lama’s answer most interesting! Thank you for sharing that.

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  2. Jeanne, I too was caught by surprise with the teen years, and have found equilibrium now that two are in their twenties and two are teens, but still … wow. God has graced us with good boys, so I have nothing to complain about when I realize what it could have been like, but still . . . wow. Here’s a thought that I’m still processing as well: we really only had all four of our kids at home together for ten years. That doesn’t seem long enough somehow, and yet when I was in the midst of it, I thought that it was going to last forever. God is eternal, but I am definitely messed up when it comes to my perception of time. 🙂

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    1. Michelle, I have to remember that God has blessed us with good boys too. A part of me dreads what will come as testosterone takes over their bodies. But, I’m trying to remember that engaging with them, asking questions, choosing to connect with them and be available is an essential aspect of maintaining our relationship during this season.

      I always tell newer moms that the days are long but the years fly by. That is just as true during these years as it was when my boys were toddlers. 🙂 And I’m with you—totally messed up when it comes to my perception of time. 🙂

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      1. So true — and about the “good boy” thing: I used to say that if there’s a boy and a girl or a boy and a truck, I don’t care if it’s Billy Graham’s grandson, there needs to be plenty of supervision. That’s what makes these years so exhausting. If you hang onto the reins at all, there’s a good chance of getting dragged.

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  3. Jeanne, you brought back memories of when our children were teens and each one goes through those years so differently. Our son challenged me in ways our daughter did not and vice versa. I know you know this but pray, pray, pray. And when you have prayed, pray some more. And know that our God is faithful. I am so grateful for God’s mercy which covered my mistakes and for His strength, which never permitted me to give up. As I look at my two now, I am continually amazed at the wonderful adults they are and that they pursue God. It is all by His grace. Blessings!

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    1. Joanne, our boys are so opposite in almost every way. I have no doubts they will walk through their teen years very differently. And I’m taking your words to heart. I find myself praying more now than I did when they were younger. The choices open to them now have longer lasting consequences now. Our years training and guiding them are almost over. Thanks for the encouragement that your two pursue God. That’s my biggest prayer right now. 🙂

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  4. I would like to say “this too will pass” but it is so trite and not very helpful for what you are experiencing in this time. The teen years are ones that sneak in and leave you weary because as your sons are working hard to figure out who they are, many times they do it in ways that leave you scratching your head. The blessing is that just as quickly as the teen years sneak in, they also one day are gone.

    I love how you and your husband are bringing God into the equation of figuring all of this out. God is right there in the middle. We need to pause and recognize this and let Him do His work. I will be praying for you and your sons. I know God will not only teach you throughout this time but will work in and through your sons as you hand it over to Him. Sending you hugs across the miles.

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    1. Mary, thank you for your prayers! I’ll take them! I keep reminding myself that I can’t fulfill God’s roles in our boys’ lives. I need to do what He calls me to do, and leave His work to Him to do. And to trust His timing as He works in their lives.

      Thanks for your encouragements, my friend!

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  5. You are just beginning the teen process, but do not be discouraged. Know that God in all His wisdom created this transition stage for the parents as well as the kids. Trust Him, and like Joanne said, pray, pray, pray. Holy Spirit will be walking through each day with you, so you and hubby can begin your days with specific prayers for your boys and yourselves, asking for mercy and grace for yourself and the kids. You know how to pray; focus on this new season and then enjoy them knowing they are God’s and He loves them and wants the best for them too. So He’s right there with you in their upbringing. Love you; love them!

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    1. Mom, I don’t know how you dealt with three girls. 🙂 I take great comfort in knowing the Lord is with hubby and me in this season of parenting. I can’t imagine trying to do it all with my own limited wisdom!! And your suggestion to enjoy them? Timeless. Thank you.

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  6. Oh Jeanne! I hear ya! I wasn’t ready for the personality change either! For me the saving grace of the teen years is focusing on relationship: asking questions, listening (when I manage to keep my mouth shut), and trying to laugh together and play together as much as possible. (I’ve even had to “expand” my musical tastes and ideas about what is good music to eat breakfast by. Ha!) Heartaches do abound. May the Lord give you grace. May He bless your relationships.

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    1. Yes, Betsy. Focusing on relationship is key. I’ve been trying to foster relationship with our boys since they were small, asking questions, stopping my tasks to listen when they have something to share. I’m praying that has built a good foundation for the coming years. And yes, I need to remember to laugh together with them. Thankfully, they both love board games, so we play when we can. My oldest is experimenting with his musical tastes now. I’m going to have to broaden what I listen to, as well. 🙂

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  7. A friend with toddlers recently told me that the teenage years seem so scary to her. I shrugged and joked that the key was simply to be scarier then them. 😉 Yes! It’s a whole new combination of free will, emotion, and independence. We are completing a technology fast with our son because he was pushing a few boundaries with his attitude and we decided he needed a reduction of the noise to really consider that actions have consequences. It’s hard, and we constantly lean into God, point him to God, and trust God to clear the path. You’re a great mama, and I have no doubt that your boys are learning to fear Him … and revere you in just the right measure. 🙂

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    1. I’ve tried not to be fearful about the teen years. I remember hearing the horror stories of teens out of control. I keep reminding myself that God gave these children to my hubs and me. And that means He’ll equip us to navigate these teen years, as we walk through them. Of course, we’ll need to lean heavily on Him, for wisdom, patience and discernment. We’re doing what we can to point ours to God too. Because really, He’s the only one who can meet every need of their hearts. And ours.

      Loved your words, friend!

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  8. I can so relate, Jeanne. When I feel overwhelmed, especially by my oldest starting college, I just remember that God has had me and taken care of me through each stage. Even when my failures seem huge, God always seems to cover me, when my heart is sincere. One day at a time. We’ll get through this, because we always do. Nothing is too big for God. And let’s try to be happy and have fun in the midst of the chaos. ❤

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    1. I know that transition of helping a child launch from the nest must be fraught with uncertainty. I’m certain God has helped you help her to be ready for this next season of her life. I’m so, so glad God fills in our gaps in mothering! Thanks for the reminder that nothing is too big for God. 🙂

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  9. Jeanne, once again I’m nodding and agreeing and relating to your words here. I have no wise advice, but I will share something that helps me when things get a little dicey or I start fretting about what might happen in the future. I remind myself that God is my daughters’ heavenly Father, just as He is mine, and He will lovingly pursue them wherever they go and whatever they do. It also me helps to remember that He didn’t choose them to be part of our family just to plunk them down with us and forget about them. His care for them will go on long after mine! Other than that, I’m right where you are, my friend …

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    1. Lois, there’s comfort knowing we’re walking a similar road, in so many ways. 🙂 I need that reminder that God is my boys’ heavenly Father. He sees their hearts and their hurts. I needed the reminder that He will always pursue them. Thank you for that. I think it’s amazing that He placed our specific children with us. I remember that, too, on the dark days. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Lois!

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