Sometimes in Christian circles we spend time talking about how we just need to do the right thing. But what about situations when it’s not at all clear what is the right thing to do?
In the past those kinds of situations have come up a lot in my work, and I always just pray and “give it my best shot”. But I find it more difficult when it comes to my teen son because the situations are emotionally charged.
In short, this son is giving me much grief; he’s definitely not seeking after God, and is pursing pleasure in many of the wrong places. He went from being a basically A & B student to failing classes. He’s disrespectful, and my husband John caught him and some friends smoking Marijuana. When he went to visit a college that he ended up signing on with for a football scholarship, he called me and spoke about how much fun he was having playing “beer dice” (now why would he tell his mother such a thing?!) When I try to talk with him, he’s not interested in what I have to say. When I set limits or consequences, if at all possible, he ignores them.
This week I received a progress report from his school that showed that he’s in danger of failing one class, and as of now has an F in another class. The class where he’s at an F right now wrote in the comments section that he has too many absences and tardies. Yet I drive him to school early each and every day. So last night I called and tried to get his biological father to cancel or remove his cell phone service. I explained that this would limit his ability to text friends prior to school so that he could leave with them once I’d dropped him off. I also explained that I have told this son that he is no longer able to have friends over to our home until he gets these grades back up and that I am concerned that he will just text friends to come pick him up and leave with him. My hope was that not having his cell could assist with managing this. His father refused. His dad agreed that this son is going a bad way, and had no suggestions as to things we could do to be helpful, but was not willing to cancel the service.
The “right thing” to do is not so obvious. All I know to do is to think on what is true and act accordingly. So I spent some time today pondering truth principles and came up the following:
- God loves this son more than I could ever dream of loving him, and will not stop seeking him out to bring him back to Himself.
- The prodigal son’s father never held his bad behavior against him in terms of loving that son and extending him forgiveness when he tired of his sinful ways. The time will come when this son realizes that the paths he’s pursing are not leading where he wants to go (and may that time be sooner than later). May I be there loving him and accepting him when that time comes.
- I can not control another person’s behavior. Not even my own son. But I can control my actions. This includes things like:
I can say that his friends are not welcome in our home right now. I can even talk to them if they do come over and politely explain.
I can choose to no longer give him money for anything since I am not certain that he’s spending it as he claims.
I can let him know that the curfew is at 10PM on week days and 12 midnight on the weekends and lock up the house at those times.
I can pray, pray, pray and pray some more.
I can choose to trust God and apply those words from Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG):
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when God displaces worry at the center of your life.
What about you, what do you do when it’s not clear what’s the right thing to do?