His struggles mirror my struggles…I couldn’t shake the circular thought as I drove through once familiar city traffic that Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday…Every time I sat behind the wheel my mind went to this single thought.
Two years, I hadn’t stepped foot in California for two years and in an instant, the previous life my home state offered wrapped its tentacles around my heart.
Lost somewhere between lane one and six the speedometer showed my lack of appreciation for speed limits. Comforted by the fact cars passed me on both sides I rationalized to my passengers, “I’m just going with the flow of traffic”. This setting is a far cry from my latest geography; a small rural town tucked near the Canadian border. With new construction underway we’ll officially be a “one” stoplight town with a 35 mile per hour limit through town (as an officer kindly reminded me).
As I wove through traffic my Californian roots reawakened and for the first time in three years I missed the long stretches of cement freeway with obvious patch marks from the numerous additions to accommodate a mass of people. I missed the rudeness of other drivers, pace of life and offerings of a city.
My Garden of Eden
Food is my love language. Despite a cherished anchor restaurant my daily life is food purgatory (I promise you, it’s real). These days, fresh berries, vegetables, peaches, apricots, lemons and oranges are farther than an arm’s reach. The days of finishing a run with my husband by snagging an orange off our tree are long gone with no hope of returning.
Every dining opportunity we passed was cause for salivation. Like a child I watched out my window as groups of friends walked the sidewalks caught in laughter fully enjoying life. Captivated by San Diego’s glowing downtown my heart split. Why did God move my family to the wild and unfamiliar? I longed to plug back in as if it were the Matrix.
Already divided, when the pedestrians stepped in front of our car my natural reflexes kicked in. Apparently my passengers expected me to stop for the daring pedestrians but I didn’t. Don’t worry, nobody was hurt but as pedestrians continued to jockey, touting their two-legged authority over a box of metal (okay, if we’re honest probably a box of plastic) my four wheels didn’t relent.
As I explained the banter of cars and pedestrians in cities to my passengers I encountered him. He struggles with authority, with following directions, with being told what to do and how to do it.
He’s MY son. My son; a product of ME.
More than that, he’s a product of US. An independent nature runs deep in my husband and our family lineages. Why would it be surprising our son displays strength in this trait?
Stubbornness as a Strength
Strength, yes. Yes, this is a powerful double-edged sword. Wielded well, God can use this trait to anchor down hearts in truth. This trait allows a person to stand and rise against opposition, to take bullish steps when others are too timid. However, carelessly using this gift is pure destruction for all.
Untrained and untamed, this trait leans towards a depth of selfishness that will bully others. Its’ resolve towards stubbornness inhibits growth and opportunity, often leading towards a negative outlook on life, self and others.
Parents: The Great Influencers
Lost in contemplation, I felt safe behind the wheel of what resembled a sardine can. While my passengers enjoyed themselves to the fullest my heart steeped in the magnitude of responsibility I held as a mom. No longer blind to my influence on my son’s life I realized I too must grow.
I’d wondered before how to help my son use the gift of independent strength constructively but I couldn’t because I couldn’t see my shortcomings in this area. Starting in our own hearts is the best place to begin and graciously God reminded me of this. Though this trait runs deep I expect God to provide a lifetime of opportunity for each of us to grow.
Peel the Labels Off
It’s easy to label the struggles of those around us as negative, but every trait has an opposite. Many wear the blanket of self-condemnation. If that’s you, please surrender and receive the freedom of the Cross. We have a lifetime for God to reshape our hearts and even that isn’t long enough. Ask God to reveal the opposite side of your struggle and pray that into your life.