Years ago, a friend asked what God had been teaching me lately. Not one to mince words, I told her the truth, “If I could put what God is telling me into just a few words, it would be to ‘shut up and back off.’” Elizabeth and Tony were nearly adults. They had benefited, hopefully, from some pretty careful upbringing. (They would probably call it “strict.”) They’d proved time and time again that they were getting it, that they knew right from wrong and generally chose right. They no longer needed my constant reminders.
Later, when I related the conversation to Elizabeth, her immediate response was. “If God is telling you to “shut up and back off,” then can I tell you the same thing?” (I’m sure she just wanted to give me spiritual backup.) Although I declined her offer, she knew what I knew. My job, at least in the area of guiding and directing my son and daughter, was winding down. The problem was making sure my mouth knew it.
After almost two decades of full-time parental instruction, how does one learn to be quiet? The answer, like the answer to so many questions, is to trust and obey. We have to trust the Lord who loves our kids even more than we do, and we have to obey two of his Don’ts:
· Don’t exasperate your children.(Colossians 6 and Ephesians 3)
· Don’t fret. (Philippians 4:6, for starters.)
In later parenting years, when something concerns us, we need to spend a lot more time talking about it to the Lord than to our children. A hard lesson to remember! I like acronyms and buzz words and anything else that helps me keep important items at the forefront of my brain. A good friend and fellow mom coined the code word “SUBO” (Shut Up and Back Off.) She and her husband use it to remind each other to let their almost-grown children act their age.
We’ve all heard the saying, “There comes a time when you just have to let go.” No, there doesn’t “come a time.” The time is always there. It begins the day a baby is born. All of parenting is, in part, about letting go and about getting our kids ready to live without constant input from Mom and Dad. If we don’t learn to let that rope out gradually, it will be burning through our hands at the end of the job.
Every day is a day to trust and obey, to love and instruct, and to let go just a little bit more. Aren’t you glad we don’t have to do that on our own? If you are a parent, may God bless you in that endeavor today.