We had an exciting holiday season. Clayton was home from college, and having your son back in the house is great. It’s interesting watching your children get older. Sometimes, we look at the maturity of our children and experience a bit of amnesia about our own personal journey and growth. I want to help give some perspective, because sometimes we forget the most important parts of growth take time.
I received an email from a good friend yesterday. He was talking about the challenges of teaching his children maturity and wisdom. My friend was frustrated, because he wanted his children to learn quicker and retain more of what he was trying to teach. I certainly understand that. I experience that all the time with my own children. Sometimes I teach my kids something and it clicks. Other times I feel like I repeat the same lesson over and over and over. Do you remember what it was like to be 15? Do you remember how you viewed the world when you were 20? We forget about all the steps we had to take to arrive where we are today. I was reflecting this morning during some meditation, and this scripture came to mind that helped me gain some perspective.
Proverbs 22:6 says to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it. When I read it this morning, the phrase “when he is old” really stuck out. The proverb doesn’t say the child won’t turn away from his training when he’s 15. It doesn’t guarantee your child will be fully mature by 20. We are trying to plant seeds of wisdom, and seeds take time to grow. They need to be nourished and fed. The gardener must be patient with the plants.
Do you remember being that age? Do you remember mistakes you made? I know growing up, I thought I knew everything. Sometimes my dad would tell me something, and I simply thought I knew better than him. I needed time to mature. My dad trained me up in the way I should go, but I needed time to grow and mature fully.
If you are frustrated that your children are maturing slower than you hoped, remember that it does not mean your lessons are not being heard. It doesn’t mean your lessons are not being received. Spiritual formation takes time. Even when you are my age, you’re still growing. There’s more to learn and put into practice.
Just the other day, Clayton came home with a concern about a friend, and he asked us to have some family prayer time. I was so impressed by his maturity in that moment. I encourage you to look for those small signs of growth. You planted a seed of wisdom, and there are moments where we can see growth even before our children are fully mature. In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger son runs away, but he later realized his mistake and comes home to ask for forgiveness. So we continue to train our children to follow Christ. We trust that God and the Holy Spirit will help those seeds grow into fully formed, faithful people.
God is patient with each of us, and we learn from God to be patient as we raise our own children. We need to trust that when they’re old, they will not depart from the wisdom of God. Spiritual formation is a process for each of us. As we continue to read the teachings of Jesus, God is transforming us more and more into the likeness of Christ. It takes time.