Another year has flown by and today my young man is old enough to drive. Unfortunately we haven't completed the behind-the-wheel training so he won't be hitting the road on his own but soon enough he will be taking that test and reaching an important milestone in the road to adulthood and independence.
Do I have mixed feelings about it? I know I should tell you I do. I should go on and on about how sad it is that my baby boy is gone and I am loosing Jake to his friends and the many activities of his youthful life. And, yes, some days I am sad that he is growing up and my little boy is gone forever, but mostly I rejoice in his growing up.
I love having a teenager, and not a freshly minted teenager but a half way through the teen years teenager. I love watching the independence develop in him. I love seeing the choices he is making. Some good choices, some not as good choices. Some choices that he has no clue about but has seriously dumb luck with.
The first part of the teen years seemed to be all about knowing the right choices to make. He knew in jr high that he would have to get good grades, he knew he wanted to continue to grow in his faith, he knew he wanted to be an Eagle Scout, he knew he wanted to make sexual pure choices with his girlfriend, etc, etc.
It is pretty easy to make all the right choices when you live in a fairly controlled environment with few choices and little temptation. He made the right choices because he had very few other options. But as the teen years have gone by we seem to be entering the next phase, making those same right choices when faced with conflicts and temptations.
It is an exciting phase. I never tire of talking about sex with Jake and now I get to occasionally bring it up with his girlfriend as well. Fun, fun, fun. We have been talking about priorities for years but now he is actually faced with making decisions based on priorities. Much harder in practice than in concept. The parenting plan remains the same...communication. Knowing what is going on in his life and talking through the choices, making sure he is thinking clearly and giving him direction when necessary. Speaking to his heart and helping him to see how choices today affect his whole life. Leading him to the Truth and sending him to the One who has all the answers when we don't.
In a couple more years he will be on his own, independent. I hope he always wants to talk through decisions with us but before I will be ready, he will be making his own choices, forging his own path and living his own life. Good or bad. Right or wrong.
I was thinking today about some of the scriptures I have shared with Jake over the years to help him make good choices and grow into the godly man he is becoming. A couple spring to mind:
Prov 25:28 was important during elementary school--"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." Learning that when we don't have self-control we make poor choices and are open to attack by the enemy.
Prov 20:11was also a good one. "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right." And followed by verse 12..."Ears that hear and eyes that see--the Lord has made them both." That second one was important since Jake was sometimes a bit impulsive and needed to be listening and looking around before acting.
I prayed this verse many mornings over Jake before school. Matthew 22:37-38, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And...love your neighbor as yourself." I wanted him to take God with him to school each day and ask himself how his actions reflected that love for God and love for others.
I remember when he was dedicated as a baby we chose the verse Prov 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." Over the years I have sometimes thought that verse is too over used and showed a lack of maturity on our parts to make such a common choice but lately I have come to see what a great verse that is. That is why they are popular, because they communicate so much truth. And the truth is that as long as Jake continues to put his trust in the Lord rather than his own foolish thoughts and desires God will continue to work in his life and he will continue to make good choices and grow to be the godly man I have been praying for him to become for 16 years and will continue to pray as he moves toward more independence from us and towards more dependence on God.
We had face painting and he wanted flames on his chin like dragon breath