I was absolutely elated! The phone call had finally come! “We’ve been able to move your son’s appointment up to July. Will that work?”
“Absolutely! You really did get him in for July? This is great! I was beginning to doubt this would even be a possibility! Thank you.”
As I started listening to the details of the scheduled appointments for my son’s medical condition, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement at what God was doing. I had shared the prayer request with everyone that I knew. His original appointment had been scheduled for September, almost 20 days after his junior year of college was to begin. If the appointment hadn’t been changed, he would have had a decision to make: college and continued pain or the possibility of resolution at a pain clinic. I knew what he was thinking. There was no way he wanted to skip a year of college waiting for what “might happen.”
After hanging up the phone, I couldn’t wait to start telling everyone the news. My son would be able to start classes in August as we had hoped! God had answered our prayer!
Just as I began the Facebook post giving God the glory, my fingers paused. “How will Michael take the news? It means that he will only have a week left of his summer vacation. It means a 23 hour car ride. It means he will live out of a hotel for 3 ½ weeks. It means a full-day program going to doctor after doctor. It means going straight from the pain program into college classes.
And I began to feel a real sadness…for him and for me.
It means that summer is almost over.
It means the mad rush of getting things in order to leave in a week.
As we sat at the dinner table that night, I wasn’t sure how to broach the subject. He did it for me. “What did you do today, Mom?”
“I was on the phone a lot.”
“Well, I need to tell you, I’ve got some good news and possibly some bad news.”
“Like what, Mom?”
“They were able to move your clinic appointment up.”
His jaw dropped.
“But it means we’ll have to leave next week. You’ll be back right in time for classes to start.”
That’s when his frustration began to rise.
“What do you mean? My summer is over! This is crazy. I don’t want to go. I’m not ready to give up the rest of my summer! I’m 21 and I don’t have to go. Tell me you won’t make me. You’re not going to hold this over my head are you? Are you going to start taking things away because I won’t do what you think I should do?” All the angst and frustration at the situation came tumbling out.
I held my tongue and let him spew.
It wasn’t easy.
I tried to resist telling him all the reasons why my logic made more sense than his did at the moment. And I told him how sorry I was for the circumstances he was in. I told him I would probably feel the same way if I was in his shoes.
He started sorting through all the reasons why this was a bad idea while I tried to gently counter his thinking. Then the words came out. “Mom, is this MY decision?”
The moment of truth had arrived. Could I live with it being HIS decision?
And that’s when I realized that in actuality I couldn’t make this man’s decision for him. He may be my son, but he is a man…responsible to God for whatever decisions he makes. He is the one who would have to be willing to work through their program. I could spend all my time and energy getting him there, I could spend money on a hotel for the 3 ½ week program, but in reality, it had to be him to do the work. This was for him and not for me.
Painfully, I assured him that it was his decision.
He then told me that he would need to hear back from a couple of loose ends from doctors he had recently seen before he would be willing to commit to the program.
I told him I would be praying for his decision.
The next day, God showed up! The doctor called closing up the loose ends.
Meanwhile, I prayed that God would show my son which path to take. I continued to make arrangements in hopes of my son making the decision to go through with the program.
Finally, I ventured into potential conflict. “Michael, I’d really like you to help me make some of the decisions around this trip. I want to make it as much of an enjoyable time as is possible given the circumstances. Would you help me pick a hotel?”
“We’re going to have to go, aren’t we, Mom?” he whispered in a voice not wanting to believe that it was necessary.
“I think it is best.”
As the silence ensued, I looked at him. “God has purpose in all this, son. Maybe you are supposed to be here at this time so you can minister to someone else. There will be lots of kids there in pain. Maybe you can make their time easier. You know, the younger ones will look up to you. You’ve been working with high school kids all summer at church. Maybe you can help the time pass more quickly for everyone.”
“Mom, let’s stay at the hotel across from the clinic. Maybe I can get some card games going in the lobby at the end of the day! I’d like to be in an easy access location so that kids can come hang out.”
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Really knowing our 20-somethings and letting them recognize that we respect them as adults can make a huge difference in the decisions they make.
Dare you to try out some of these skills.
- Allow your 20-something to vent when they are frustrated.
- Validate their feelings. Let them know you would probably feel the same way if you were in their shoes.
- Recognize that they ARE adults. They will have to deal with the consequences of their decisions.
- Appeal to their bent. Help them see the positives of a good decision and how God might be using them.
- Celebrate their good choices and let them know you love to watch how God is maturing them.
Ephesians 3:20 NKJV
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.
“Let go…and let God,”